The match between the New Zealand Barbarians and the men of Australia Country was probably one of the most anticipated games of the Oceania Pacific Cup, since it had all the makings of a final. Whoever won this game would have a vital confident boost heading into the playoffs.
Clean balls, fast plays, impenetrable defense and exhilarating attack were all on show as Australia and New Zealand went toe to toe in an epic showdown.
But the Babaas were able to find the form that has seen them win the past 3 OPC titles, as they managed to scrape a win over the Aussies. NZ Babaas 2: AUS Country 0
The first half was an intense struggle which resulted in a nil all draw heading into the break.
“We came out absolutely firing,” said Zachariah Nelson, the Australian captain. “I think we had a few good opportunities. We were a bit unlucky we couldn’t put them away. “
However 2 minutes into the second spell, the New Zealand Barbarians were able to break the dead lock, with a goal to Cory Bennett.
“Second half we slackened off a little bit but nothing that we can’t improve,” said Zachariah Nelson.
With the Aussie defense beginning to tire, Bennett was able to slot in his second goal in the 49th minute.
Bennett has been impressive this tournament scoring five goals against Samoa and two against Vanuatu but says “I still think I haven’t shown my best yet.”
Despite their best efforts, the Australians were not able to make a comeback and the game ended in a 2-0 win to the Babaas.
“It was really good to go up against the New Zealand Barbarians. We definitely enjoyed having a good contest and hopefully we can get out again against them in the final,” said Nelson.
He said that the team are looking forward to playing another good game against Fiji in their next match and hopefully with a win, are looking forward to exact revenge on the Babaas in the final.
“Hopefully we can turn the result and get a win next time.”
Cory Bennett of New Zealand is hoping to recover from a strained ligament he suffered in the match to take his team to another final. He is tipping Fiji to win the match against Australia Country.
Goals: New Zealand Barbarians 2(Cory Bennett- 37th, 49th minute) Australia Country 0