Vietnam Swans defeated the visiting Cambodian Eagles 57-48 in the second of the Cannonball Run Games and the fourth match of the season in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday. The evenly matched Australian rules game served as a memorial to the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
The game opened with the traditional minute of silence – all players and officials linked arms in a show of respect to the sacrifices made by all countries in the Vietnam War.
The Eagles had defeated the highly fancied Swans – a Division 1 team – two weeks ago in Phnom Penh and travelled strong for the return fixture, with 24 players and 10 support staff and fans, the biggest touring party in many years.
The first quarter was an even affair, with both teams battling hard amid some fierce tackling and body work. The second quarter was decisive and all Vietnam, who piled on four majors to go up by 21 points at half-time, though the Eagles were by no means slack.
The Eagles were a different team in the third quarter. The attack on the ball was much improved and the Khmer players, in particular Vannak, stepped up and displayed real grit. Even though Nas and Oun were both dished out rough treatment from much bigger opponents, they played on.
Fatzy Grant at full-forward had a great quarter, kicking three, well supported by the evergreen and straight-running Higgins. The defence led by Parrot and Jury were resolute.
Rover Kokke and centreman Norton continued to show class and courage winning contested possessions and creating plenty of opportunities. At the third break, Swans were up by just two points.
The last quarter saw the Eagles mostly on top, with two very well deserved goals from local lad Oun and one to Norton. The Eagles dropped their run for a few crucial minutes and this saw the Swans kick three quick ones to run out winners in a very evenly matched game.
The Eagles next head to Bangkok in four weeks’ time to play a three-way fixture against the Thailand Tigers and the Swans.
Quarter-by-quarter scores: the Vietnam Swans (2-1-13, 5-2-32, 5-2-32, 9-3-57) beat the Cambodian Eagles (1-2-8, 1-5-11, 4-6-30, 7-6-48).