The ANZAC Friendship Match entered its 10th year in 2019. The day promised a lot, with some very special guests from Australia, three games on the cards (a first!), our first on-site function and our first ANZAC livestream!

The day delivered in spades! What a spectacle! Check out the highlight video:

Read on for all of the action from mens and womens games…

The Vietnam Swans vs Indonesian Volcanoes

The Indonesian Volcanoes arrived in Vung Tau with some impressive form: the Volcanoes are reigning Asian Champions in Division 1, and were a class above at last year’s Championship in Kuala Lumpur.

The Volcanoes are actually the combination of  two clubs in Indonesia, the Bali Geckos and the Jakarta Bintangs. The Bintangs have twice played in ANZAC Friendship Matches in recent years… and are the only team to have beaten the Swans in Vung Tau. Not once, but twice!

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This game was always going to be a huge test for the Swans. Lead by Essendon great Rick Olarenshaw, the Volcanoes unleashed a faster, harder brand of football than the Swans have typically played. It was an eye opener, even for experienced veterans of the Swans.

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We were certainly competitive though, leading the first quarter before the Volcanoes edged ahead in the second. It was a game of two very different strategies: Indo liked to control possession, whereas the Swans were taking the game on and hence had more scoring shots.

The Swans fought back in the third. Nitty was giving a target, Vaughan was leading the defense with physicality and aggression, while Watto and Irish Tom had paired up as mobile ruckmen for the day. Tal’s ‘bang and crash’ style of play upset the fluency of the Volcanoes, and a Captain’s goal from Jake Norris played a big part in drawing the scores level at the final break.

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The final quarter could have gone either way. The Swans hit the front with minutes to go and had a chance to win it. After an interruption due to injury, the Volcanoes flooded the defense, took possession in the dying moments and worked it down to big ‘Urchin’ about 25m out on a 45 angle.

The big fella iced it, drawing the game level as the siren sounded. The very first tie of our ANZAC Friendship Match history, 74 points apiece!

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Swan’s Coach Rod ‘Rocket’ White was immensely proud of the squad for going the distance with the superior expertise of the Volcanoes. They’re a quality outfit who bought some slick football.

For us, Tal was the standout and justly received BOG honours, narrowly ahead of Oscar who finished with 6 goals (half the Swans score line!). The fixture was a great challenge against strong opposition and taught our boys a lot about what’s required to be serious in Division 1. With a serious injury list from the game, we’ll be hard pressed when we face Cambodia on May 11, just three weeks away.

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A massive thanks to the Indonesian Volcanoes for making the trip over with a talented squad. Ex-AFL players Rick Olarenshaw and Paul Williams (Collingwood Magpies / Sydney Swans) were great value: the knowledge of the game and their presence on these tours adds immensely to the experience for all. The duo made themselves available for interviews and even donated their playing jumpers for auction, helping the Vietnam Swans to raise much-needed funds for Swim Vietnam and the Centre for Social Protection of Children.

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Catch Phil John’s interview with Ricky and Willo below:

The Queen Kookaburras (AUS) vs Kuini Ferns (NZ)

A mixed game debuted last year for the ANZAC Friendship Match, but 2019 was the first time that the #AFLW would take the field at Vung Tau. Ninja Ink Tattoo Studio stepped up to the challenge, Jack fitting out the players with some stellar playing jumpers.

Captained by Tracey, the Queen Kookaburras featured the triple-threat of the Walsh’s: Katie, Ella and Hannah. With Hannah playing her first game, this may be the first occasion that three members of the same family have ever been in one of the Club’s teams.

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As Kiwis themselves, Lu, Bex and Beth were immensely proud to be lining up against the Queen Kookaburras wearing the unique black of New Zealand. This trio combined with some of the Lady Swan’s other international talent, including English, Canadian, Philippine and Irish, to form the Kuini Ferns.

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The day was also a welcome return of three Champs-winning Lady Swans who were back in town: Heather, Nona and Tilly. Several Vietnamese who’ve been training this season also made their debut.

Maybe it was the stirring pukana from Beth and Lu, but the New Zealanders took control of the match early, had match winners all over the ground, and never looked back. Hung and Thao played very well in their first game, with Hung even scoring a goal!

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It’s an incredible result to have not one, but two teams of women lining up to play in an intra-club game within a season of starting. It’s a credit to all those involved.

A Great Showcase of Local Talent

The Vietnamese players in our mens and womens teams continue to go from strength to strength. It’s a great change in the Club and brings an entirely new dimension to footy and the ANZAC spirit.

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There were two standout local players at the 2019 ANZAC Friendship Match. Linh played exceptionally well in the Kookaburras vs. Ferns, earning many possessions and showing some incredible progress for a player who only has a season of ‘footy’ experience.

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In the mens game, it was Big Vinh, aka Vinh #1, who stepped up in key moments. Big ‘spoils’ and defensive pressure, and a vital assist to Oscar Silk paved the way for a Swannies fightback. Well done Vinh.

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Trung Nhat’s contribution to the day was also key. Honestly, Nhat delivered an Australian National Anthem worthy of an AFL Grand Final, and set the men’s game on a path of courage and intensity.

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What about the Legends vs All Stars?

These guys have such an epic rivalry, they get their own write-up. Check it out here.

Thanks to the Volunteers

Days like the ANZAC Friendship Match don’t just happen! In combination with the Legends vs All Stars, Saturday saw over a 100 players taking part, three games, a function in the evening, a livestream of the games and another video crew roaming around for interviews. This is a huge undertaking as a Club!

There is a whole crew of volunteers who bring the day to life. From Thien Nguyen (the venue and livestreaming), to Ron Vernon (field), to Glenn Nolan (logistics), to the legends from the VTVFCF (the gate), to Rod Harlor (the Ode), to Billy and James (with the online/offline communications), to our long suffering President Kerro and his partner Khang, to our ex-President Fabbo, to Niity (merch), to Tom and Nathan / Micka / Jake (main umpires), to all the boundary and goal umpires… and, well, the list is just too long…

We’d love to thank all who took part, and we’ll see you back again next year!

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