Players from the Cambodia Eagles (in blue) and Vietnam Swans vie for the ball during their Aussie rules football game at the Navy ground on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. Photograph: Jacqueline Collis/Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian Eagles hovered all over Vietnam Swans in their inaugural Australia Day clash before swamping the visitors 94-41 at the Navy grounds on the outskirts of the city along National Highway 6 on Saturday.
The victory came as a sweet revenge for the Eagles loss to the Swans away in Hanoi in the Indochine Cup in November, but more significantly it marked a winning start for the Cambodian outfit in the newly established East Asian Aussie Rules Football League.
Billed as the Cambodian Cannonball Run, the action was high octane all the way.
It was the Swans who dared the Eagles with the first three goals of the game and enjoyed a slender one goal advantage at half-time.
In the third quarter, however, the Eagles put in a massive effort, kicking four goals without reply. Then came a swashbuckling six-goal stretch that saw the Swans, who went goalless in the second half, completely fade out of the picture.
The star of the Eagles show was Jhie Gough, who kicked in five goals, while Simon ‘Switter’ Whitney dominated all game staying best on ground.
Two rugby converts – Ritchie Flanagan and Dan Wetherall – made valuable contributions in their first game for the Eagles.
“It was a great win for the club and we had to fight hard all day,” Eagles coach Grant Fitzgerald told the Post yesterday.
In his pre-match comment posted on the Swans’ website, captain Luke ‘Dukesy’ Creamer said: “As is always the case, Swannies are evolving and changing, and this year it will be another new year with new challenges.”
For the Swans, the game also had a sentimental dimension.
The players wore black armbands in memory of Frank Pickering (player Dave O’Shea’s grandfather) and Annie Jesaukenko (sponsor and supporter).
Team-mates also bid farewell to “mega” Bretta Jotta, who played his last game as a resident of Vietnam.
“Jotta has redefined ‘mega’ at the Swannies, so let’s see him off in a suitable fashion,” Creamer said.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]