PNG Wins Classic Against NZ in Grand Final
For the past six years I’ve been waiting for this to happen – and it finally did:
Papua New Guinea fought back magnificently to win its first International Cup in the curtain raiser to the Hawthorn-Western Bulldogs final at the MCG, defeating 2005 winners New Zealand by eight points.
The final term began with the scores level, and saw PNG full of running with first Donald Barry and then Amua Pirika snapping great goals. NZ steadied with a goal to Richard Bradley to take him to 17 majors for the tournament, equal top scorer with Canada’s Scott Fleming, but PNG still led by two points with four minutes to go.
And they held on, with young star Pirika having a shot for goal after the siren to put the final nail in the NZ coffin. His banana kick went straight through the middle to wild applause from the thousands of spectators at the MCG.
PNG had been runner up in the past two cups. Barry played an outstanding game for the victors and won the medal for best on ground.
New Zealand led by 15 points at quarter time, but the second quarter was a much tighter struggle with each team kicking two goals and the Kiwis holding on to a 16-point lead. PNG started the third term full of running and after kicking two goals to one to trail by only one goal at the last change.
Inaccurate kicking might have proved costly for PNG, but in the end they ran over the top of NZ for the title.
And there’s more good news: the majority of the PNG Mosquitoes are under 20yrs old. Look for great things to come, including the possible drafting of some of these boys into the AFL Premiership.
Papua New Guinea 0.4 2.5 4.10 7.12 (54)
New Zealand 3.1 5.3 6.4 7.4 (46)
Papua New Guinea: A. Pirika 3, D. Waluka 2, D. Barry, A. Pinda
New Zealand: R. Bradley 2, J. Bowden, A. Congalton, M. Doran, J. Monaghan, N. Cunneen