Kangaroos Dominate Swans (revised)

Posted on: 1/16/2006 at 3:48pm ET

Fans Get Show

This afternoon, under the California sun, the Kangaroos defeated the Sydney Swans 13.8.86 to 6.2.38 to win the inaugural Los Angeles Challenge and the Qantas Cup. The game was played at a temporary venue on the UCLA campus where the student intramural field is usually located. The "Wolf Blass Australian Festival" at UCLA reached it's apex with the exhibition match between the Kangaroos from North Melbourne facing off against the Sydney Swans. After the completion of the Steve Irwin Show and the preliminary match between the Australian All-Comers and the USA Revolution, the main event was set to get underway.

The weather was good with sunshine, clear skies, and a light but unusually cool breeze. As the game approached, the temperatures were about 65 degrees F and the winds were 5 to 10 mph from the north. The crowd is estimated by AFANA at less than 3200 with just 2200 in the seven sections of temporary seating.

Despite earlier promises, it is difficult to see how the facility could have ever accommodated up to 9000. While it may be true that the official explanation of the fire marshal refusing permission for additional seating (there is an underground traffic garage directly under the field area), the reality is that the limited space would not have permitted many more. With the hospitality tents, at least three VIP tents, vendor space, etc. there was minimal space for additional stands to have been erected. Over a third of the boundary line space was given over to the VIP and wine tents alone and visibility from any of those seats had to have been extremely poor. Press were denied access to any of those areas so we were unable to check this out.

Media were restricted to one narrow corner of the boundary fence and not provided any seating, working tables, or access to refreshments or facilities without walking well away from the field area. Almost all press in attendance were Australian with only AFANA, another web site company, and a crew from the Fox Sports Show "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" representing US media. Only AFANA stayed for the entire match. KCAL-TV 9 in Los Angeles did get 10 to 15 seconds of the match and the Steve Irwin Show combined on at the end of their 10:30 PM sports show. AFANA is not aware of any other US or Canadian media coverage.

Following warm-ups by both squads, the National Anthems of the USA and Australia were sung by the Qantas Girls Choir. Then the coin was tossed by the Hon. Peter Costello and the Swans won the toss, selecting the north end of the field to defend.

Finally, the match got underway. Contrary to claims of the organizers, this was not the first sanctioned AFL match in the United States, the most recent previous one having been in 1990. Both teams planned to get plenty of playing time for their young players in front of the smaller than hoped for crowd.

Throughout the game the Swans struggled to convert any opportunities and the game was dominated by the sharper passing and better marking of the Kangaroos. The Roos scored the first goal and were never headed however throughout the first quarter it was fairly even and though the boys from North Melbourne lead at the first break by eight points, the Swans fans had hope.

A big 2nd quarter put the Kangaroos in control as they piled on five goals in rapid succession and soon opened up a 19 point lead. By the main break, the more efficient offense of the Kangaroos had put them up by a commanding margin of 28 points. The Swans were employing their standard tactic of flooding however their young players were unable to keep control of the footy making it possible for the Roos to scrape out goal after goal.

As the 3rd turn began, the game quickly got completely away from the Swans as the blue and white crew added three more goals and kept the footy in their end almost the entire quarter. With a 48 point margin beginning the last turn the result was no longer in doubt and both coaches substituted freely. Late in the 4th quarter the Swans finally got some goal production however by that time it was too little too late. Few of the well known players on either squad took part in the match.

The "Man of the Match" (Ed.: the promoter's term, not ours) was Kangaroo Hamish McIntosh. Then the Kangaroos Captain Adam Simpson received the inaugural Qantas cup. In his comments, he thanked the Kangaroos supporters who had traveled from Australia to support them but no mention was made of their US fans. Sadly, while unintentional, this just reinforced the pervasive feeling among many journalists present and some fans that this event was not for them but instead for the Aussie ex-pat community.

After the match, AFANA caught up with Swans Coach Paul Roos. In his post game comments, he said he was satisfied with his team's efforts. Although he wished that more senior players had been available to make the match more interesting for the fans, he said "the final result wasn't important". "The boys remarked all week what a great place this has been and how much they enjoyed being here", said Roos. Roos felt he got a good look at their recent recruits and they had not sustained any significant injuries, "only a few corked thighs" and other minor nicks and bruises. Roos made special note of young recruit Kristin Thornton who kicked three goals for the Swans. Most of the North Melbourne players and coaching staff did not make themselves available for post match interviews.

Final score:

Sydney Swans 1.1 2.0 0.1 3.0 6.2.38
Kangaroos 2.3 5.2 3.3 3.0 13.8.86

Attendance: unofficially estimated at 3200

Ed note: The AFL did not provide official statistics including names of the umpires or goal kickers for this match however we will try to get the leading goal kickers later.

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