Miller the hero as New Zealand reach third International Cup Grand Final
15 Aug, 2017
New Zealand will play off against Papua New Guinea in the 2017 AFL International Cup Grand Final after a dramatic finish that saw St Kilda International scholarship holder Barclay Miller kick a goal after the siren to snatch victory over a gallant Irish side.
New Zealand and Ireland were the only two remaining unbeaten sides in the competition and the Kiwi team knew that they were in a good position to make the final even if they lost by a small margin.
The game was an even contest for the whole duration as both sides put their bodies on the line. New Zealand midfielder Shane Leat was outstanding and played his best game of the tournament so far. His fast pace and elusiveness confused the Irish at times with this attributing to his selection in New Zealand’s best.
Ireland found themselves with a seven point lead at quarter time and at the first break, the Kiwi’s keeping a calm head and focused on their own game plan.
A pivotal moment came in the second quarter when NZ ruck man Peter Halstead touched a ball on the line to prevent an Irish goal. This lead to the New Zealanders creating a “coast to coast” passage of play through the middle of the ground with Captain Andrew Howison kicking the fourth goal of the game and swinging momentum the Kiwis way.
Andy Christensen was a star performer for New Zealand in the forward line kicking three goals for the game.
The lead changed multiple times and the result could have gone either way but with seconds left on the clock and New Zealand trailing by 2 points, defender Will Gregson launched a big kick into the forward line where Miller was awarded a free kick right in front of goal. As the umpire blew his whistle, the siren sounded and Barclay had the opportunity to win the game and prevent Ireland reaching the Grand Final. Cool, calm and collected his kick was straight through the middle, providing New Zealand with a famous 4 point victory.
New Zealand: Andy Christensen 3, Ben Hick 1, Andy Howison 1, James Kusel 1, Sam McKenzie 1, Barclay Miller 1
New Zealand: Andy Christensen, Shane Leat, Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas, Liam Beattie, Andriu Sucu, Peter Halstead
The squad will now turn its attention to the 2017 International Cup Grand Final on Saturday the 19th of August at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. Our opponents will be Papua New Guinea, who have featured in every International Cup final throughout the tournaments history. The two sides have met twice in the final in the past with New Zealand taking the honours in 2005.
The game starts at 11.15am and will be live streamed at www.aflic17.com.au