The New Zealand Hawks dominated the Swedish Elks today at Western Oval, running out to a 24.18:162 – 0.0:0 win in their first International Cup match.
In a match in which territory and possession was dominated by New Zealand, the Elks were unable to move the ball into their attacking zone. The strong, relentless defensive pressure from the Hawks was maintained well over the whole match.
On attack, New Zealand showed moments of brilliance, interspersed with scratchy goalkicking, which lowered their overall score.
An early pattern was set in the opening minutes of the game. Ruckman Ty Smith and Andrew Howison combined to set up a shot at goal on the first play of the game, however the set shot was missed.
More opportunities were squandered before Shane Leat calmly slotted a set shot for the first Hawks goal of the game. It was the start of a strong performance from Leat, who showed excellent vision with his disposals across the game.
The floodgates soon opened, with goals coming thick and fast from then on. Andrew Christensen put himself onto the scorers list with a team best 5 goals.
Chris Mundell proved to be an excellent target man for the Hawks, taking tremendous marks throughout the game.
While goalkicking consistency may have been an issue for New Zealand, their intensity over the course of the match never wavered. Even after the match was put beyond doubt, there was no let up from the Hawks.
For both teams, attention will now turn to their 2nd match. New Zealand will face China, who have been billed as a potential surprise package of the tournament. Sweden will face rivals Finland, in what is sure to be an intense encounter.
In other matches from the first day of the competition, the USA easily defeated Finland, while Ireland scrapped hard to defeat a gritty Fiji.
Final Score: 24.18:162 – 0.0:0
New Zealand Hawks Goalscorers:
Christensen (5) Mundell (3) Van Wijk (3) B Clark (2) Baker-Thomas (2) Toomer (2) Inglis (2) Leat, Tipene-Thomas, McKenzie, Simpson, Roughan
Best and Fairest:
Andrew Christensen, Ben Miller, James Roughan, Shane Leat, Matthew Van Wijk, David Rattenbury.