The Swans have returned to winning ways with a hard-fought win over the Cambodian Eagles in Vung Tau!

Baby-faced Swannie “Rampaging” Roy Horgan may have been sidelined due to a back injury, but from his view of the field he had this to say about the Friendship match:

Swans, Eagles Midfields on Show During a Frantic Vung Tau Afternoon

Having just witnessed two highly skilled and hard fought matches in the women’s match and Commbank Cup, the main event had a lot to live up to and it did so in spades. Vietnam’s closest neighbour and one of their biggest rivals The Cambodian Eagles made the journey from Phnom Penh to take part in their first ANZAC Friendship Match and were fired up for a big game. Fought out at the Lord Mayor’s Oval the ground wasn’t in the best of shape and was about as dry as the dog track which skirts the perimeter. Plumes of dust were erupting every time a tackle was laid and plenty of skin was lost on the cheese grater surface as both teams went into it with a vicious commitment to win. A large crowd with good voice added to the already electric atmosphere of this special day.

The Swans & Eagles line up for the Vietnamese and Australian national anthems. Photo: Grant Keys

The Swans & Eagles line up for the Vietnamese and Australian national anthems. Photo: Grant Keys

The entire game was played at a frantic pace with both teams hitting hard and going at a million miles an hour but it was the Swannies midfield that got on top early and held the ascendency for most of the match. The Eagles tackling pressure was manic but the Swans inside mids were able to absorb that pressure and use their slick hands to get the ball out of congestion and into space to then thrust forward and hit their tall targets on the lead. The Swans looked composed down back and ran the ball out of defense with aplomb for the entire game and looked to have it sewn up with two quick goals to start the last quarter but in typical Eagles fashion they never gave up and came storming back into the contest with a flurry of goals. It was too little too late for the Eagles though as the Swannies stellar first three quarters was too much to overcome in the end for Cambodia.

Benny Carpenter-Nwanyanwu was outstanding in the guts showing class and pace as well as a great set of hands over head to give the Swans plenty of drive and attack. His partner in crime Grant Richardson was every bit as good, winning plenty of hard ball in tight and kicking 3 crucial goals to be extremely instrumental in the win. Seany Milner was his usual damaging self with tonnes of poise and run on the outside linking up beautifully with brother Nath on a few occasions to give the Swans some real potency driving the ball into the forward line. Jimmy Bairstow was everywhere through the middle and was justly awarded as the Swannies best on ground with his four quarter effort and intensity in the contests. Outside of the mids big Keysey kept up his ANZAC day form by dominating up forward yet again with strong leads and good grabs to give the Swans the perfect focal point and straighten them up. Also up forward Vietnamese local Vinh Nguyen had a killer game attacking the ball hard, kicking a stunning goal on the run and setting up another one. Nath Milner was everywhere in defense constantly taking intercept marks and thumping the ball down the wings. It was also great to see first gamer from Hanoi Spencer Whitaker show some real aggression and impose himself on the game and we’re looking forward to big things from the new recruit later in the year.

Swans players take a moment during halftime to pose with the kids from the Vung Tau Orphanage. Photo: Grant Keys

Swans players take a moment during halftime to pose with the kids from the Vung Tau Orphanage. Photo: Grant Keys

The Eagles would’ve come into this game with a tonne of confidence having absolutely destroyed the Swans a few weeks ago as well as being reigning Indochina champs where they dominated the Swans in the first half in Myanmar and went on to take the cup with an undermanned squad. The Eagles always have a red hot crack and are a ripping bunch of blokes to have a footy match with and this time around was no exception. They were yet again led brilliantly from the front by skipper and midfield gun Grant Fitzgerald. Ex Swans legend and four time Swannies B&F winner Luke ‘Dukesy’ Creamer was stellar off half back for the Eagles winning plenty of ball and using it well. Bretto Norton was his usual crash and bash self and gave his team mates a strong target around the ground. The Khmer boys were yet again a handful for their opposition and at their fast and feisty best doing plenty of damage around the flanks and giving the Eagles plenty of run through the lines. Up forward Nick ‘The Tat’ Edwards again had a brilliant game against the Swans with his sticky hands marking everything and trusty left boot slotting multiple goals to really put them back in the contest in the last quarter and earn him a well deserved best on ground for the Eagles.

Special mention must go to new Swannies coach Alistair Shiells for his first win of the year as coach. The boys played with an excellent structure and intent which has now set the bar for the rest of the year. Al must be extremely excited to see how well the Swans can play when they get it all together and with plenty of potential to take some big scalps later in the year the positivity in this group now should really take us forward in leaps and bounds.

Vietnam Swans 12.9.81 d Cambodian Eagles 8.11.59

Legends Edge out All-Stars in the Relentless Heat

Before the Friendship Match kicked off, the crowd was treated to an ever-entertaining Commbank Cup full of current Swannies, die-hard supporters and some people who had to pick up the game as they went along.

The Al Fresco’s All-Stars were coached by Rodney “Rocket” Gillett, while the Lagler Legends were coached by Rowan “ex-Treasurer” Luke.  After the Annual Legends/All-Stars Player’s Draft (held the night before over a beer and a list of players who all seemed to have niggling injuries), it appeared that the Legends were strong on height and experience, but the All-Stars had the youth and endurance to get them through the tough conditions.

Vietnamese players getting ready to dominate in the Legends/All-Stars match. Photo: Grant Keys

Vietnamese players getting ready to dominate in the Legends/All-Stars match. Photo: Grant Keys

With both teams opting to play 12-a-side (allowing for a reasonable interchange bench to rest up from the heat), there were plenty of opportunities to find space on the Lord Mayor’s Oval.  As a result the All-Stars were able to find plenty of options up forward, but found it difficult to convert scoring opportunities into goals.  Eric “I’m the President so put me in forward pocket or else” Kerrison was found shaking his head for the remainder of the weekend, kicking just three behinds.


Hanoi recruit Tim Lovell after a long day in the office. Photo: Grant Keys

Players were perplexed by several dubious umpiring decisions by Rampaging Roy Horgan throughout the match – he was heard to say “it’s not as if we’re playing AFL” when the All-Stars captain asked for a deliberate out of bounds call.

Tim Lovell from the Hanoi Swans camp made an excellent onfield debut, almost winning the game single-handedly and should be a valuable inclusion for future Swans matches.

The Swans selectors kept a close eye on the match, seeing how the up-and-coming players would cope with different on-field roles.

Despite going down by a point, the All-Stars will be looking to bounce back in 2018, with rumours of recruiting Earl Spalding to help improve their kicking accuracy.

Lagler Legends 4.4.28 d Al Fresco’s All-Stars 2.15.27

The Apsaras Get Their First Win on their First Tour

Huge props to Claire Mathieson from the Gaels for her account of the women’s match:

The womens teams braving the sizzling Vung Tau heat early in the day.

The womens teams braving the sizzling Vung Tau heat early in the day.

The Vietnam Gaels women’s AFL team suffered a narrow loss to the Cambodian Asparas in Vung Tau on the weekend. The Vung Tau tour provided the Asparas a chance to settle the score after going down to the Gaels 31-6 four weeks earlier in Phnom Penh.

Ina hotly contested and thrilling game the Cambodian side triumphed with a hard-earned five point win.

Despite an early goal from the Asparas and difficulty getting on the scoreboard in the first quarter, the Gaels surged back in the second with two quick goals from the up front combo of Leanne Brockelhurst, Heather Turkle and Mairead Scanlon keeping the Vietnamese side in the game.

Ex-bearded Swans player Dan Morrison taking on the reins as Gaels AFL coach. Photo: Grant Keys

Ex-bearded Swans player Dan Morrison taking on the reins as Gaels AFL coach. Photo: Grant Keys

Halftime saw the scores level at 14-14, truly reflecting the closeness and pressure of the match. It was clear that the second half would be a battle and the crowd was not disappointed.

Not missing an opportunity, the Asparas shook the Gaels early with an extra loose player up front, taking advantage of the Vietnamese team’s momentary lull to make an impact on the scoreboard. The opportunity did not last long for the visitors however, with the Gaels defensive side stepping up – Daniella van Troy executed a number of impressive tackles, allowing sexy superstar Jo Forbes Salmon to get a hand to the ball and move play back into Gaels territory.

In an excellent display of high pressure football under the blazing April sun. At the last break, the home side had fought hard for a narrow lead, 21-20.

The fourth quarter was fierce from start to finish, the Gaels refreshed by some sideline oranges and the Asparas hungry for their first victory.  The fourth quarter saw some shining moments from debutante players Rek Muller, Julie Sadlier and Thea Cowie, promising good things to come in the future for the Vietnamese side. In a tense and desperate final few minutes, the Cambodian side was able to hang on for their first ever victory.

With one win each, the Apsaras and Gaels are leading the way in women’s AFL in Asia and they can look forward to a few more matches this year to continue their healthy rivalry.

Cambodian Apsaras 5.2.32 d Vietnam Gaels 4.3.27