The 9th Annual ANZAC Cup, contested between the Australian Spirit and France, was played in picturesque conditions on Sunday at Stadium Timmerman, Villers-Bretonneux. The beaming sun resulted in a nice crowd growing for the 12pm women’s game.
Following a minute’s silence and the national anthems the women’s game was under-way. It was played at a frantic pace from the opening bounce with Coline Duquet of France working well in the ruck to give her midfielders first use of the football.
Two goals to one had the French in front at the first change with Camille and Berengere Portal having strong opening quarters.
Wayward kicking in front of goal was hurting the Australians as they started winning the football out of the middle and holding deep in their forward line.
The Australians went into halftime with an 8-point lead after trailing the French at the quarter time break.
The second half went all the Australians’ way but they couldn’t convert in front of goal kicking 5 goals, 13 behinds to the end of the third quarter.
They got their radars straight in the final term with an extra 4 goals sealing victory in a great game of football. Final scorecard reading 9.15. 69 to 3.8. 26 in favour of the Australians.
Best on ground honours went to Steph Filbay of Australia and Camille Portal of France.
The men’s match followed immediately after the women with both sides taking part in the pre-game ceremonies of a minute silence and national anthems. A stirring rendition of the French national anthem had the local crowd excited at the prospect of knocking off the Australian side for the first since 2013.
Harriet O’Malley, Cultural Attache at the Australian Embassy in Paris, tossed the coin with Australian skipper, Tony Fulton choosing to run towards Le Melbourne Pub end of the ground in the first quarter.
Both sides started out strong with French full-forward, Pierre Boscart, looking dangerous coming out the goal square.
It didn’t take long for the Australians’ spiritual leader, Jay Treloar, to make an impact in the game with a strong double fist whilst 15 metres clear of an opponent.
Two goals apiece had both sides even at the quarter time break with the French looking very dangerous in the 9-a-side format.
It was much of the same in the second term with both sides struggling to convert with the immense tackling pressure. Australia edged in front late to take a 9-point lead into the main break.
Coach’s, Jason Cameron and Tom Rischbieth got the boys firing in the third term as the Australians kicked five goals in quick succession to set up a comfortable lead going into the final quarter.
A strong finish by the French kept the Australians honest in the final term but it was too little, too late. Final scorecard reading 13.12. 90 to 6.15. 51 in favour of the Australian Spirit.
Best on Ground honours went to Michael Curcio of Australia and Pierre Leschales of France.
A special mention to Tobias Siegel and Cai Davies for their stellar performances umpiring both games as well as all the volunteers lead by the ABA for putting together another amazing ANZAC Cup.
With the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux next year, the 2018 ANZAC Cup is set to be extra special with a gaming promo code.
For full details about other AFL Europe events, go to AFLeurope.org.