Another smashin’ ANZAC Friendship Match Weekend has come and gone. It was a pleasure to host the Hong Kong Dragons at RMIT in Saigon this year. In case you missed the games, don’t fear. Here are your write-ups!

The Legends vs All Stars Match (Written by Paul Villanova, Northern Operations Manager)

The Legends vs All Stars Match was back again in 2024. This special match has been a cornerstone of the ANZAC Friendship Weekend from the beginning of the ANZAC tradition in Vietnam. These games are more than a curtain raiser. They enable guys who are visiting for the game, completely new to AFL, returning Swans, current players and plenty of former Swans legends to come out for a run and play a part in one of our biggest weekends of the year.

This year we were lucky to have a group of Aussie mates from Coolangatta come join in the fun!  It was a great addition to have them involved.

Off the opening bounce, the Legends took the ascendency with experienced campaigner Darren kicking 3 goals before injuring his knee and coming off, not to return. A truly epic five minutes of play! Another highlight was seeing young Sam have his boot fly off mid kick, then play with only one boot for the rest of the game. We also had Anh Quoc (Dwayne) kick his very first goal in an AFL game, which helped secure a 5 goal lead at quarter time for the Legends.

With the Legends dominating the play at quarter time, it was decided Coolangatta lad Daniel Johnson would switch from Legends to All Stars in a fateful decision. He would go on to dominate play and set up his teammates for goals (like for the late arriving Rowan) for the remaining 2 quarters, leaving only a 6 point margin at three quarter time.  

The final quarter was down to the wire, with the All Stars pulling out the win by 15 points in a very even contest!

As for best on ground, it went to the only guy to play for both teams in the game, Daniel Johnson.

It is very special to play this game in the spirit of ANZAC with its rich history dating back to the 1960’s. Massive thanks to the Coolangatta crew, all the people playing in their first ANZAC (and first ever) AFL game and all players in the game for warming the ground up nicely for the games to follow (because it wasn’t warm enough already). 

Final Scores: All Stars 9.5 (59) Legends 7.2 (44)

Best On Ground: Daniel Johnson

Women’s Match (written by Wayne McMahon, Vietnam Swans Ladies Coach)

The girls took to the field to face off against Hong Kong for their first hit-out of 2024. There was lots of anticipation heading into this game after 6 months off with no competitive matches. Our squad was a mix of experience and youth, with 5 players making their Swans debuts; Sarah, Liv, Beck, Jo and Yen.

Our ladies couldn’t have started any better, winning the first clearance and then Amy slotting a long left-foot bomb. It turns out that would be the starting point of one of the most dominant individual performances in a quarter that I’ve ever witnessed as by the time the quarter came to an end Amy had 5 goals to her name.

After our hot start, Hong Kong came out with increased intensity and stemmed the flow of goals. Our midfielders however continue to show strength around stoppages with Ev and Brody ensuring our forwards got plenty of opportunities to score.

Our motto this year is ‘all-in’ and this game really encapsulated that message. There were lovely team plays, incredible positivity and our girls did all the little things to help our team. Van laid a perfect sheppard to guarantee Ev slotted a goal, Court stopped a dangerous 2 on 1 by committing to the ball, Yen had the smarts to quickly kick the ball off the ground to get a goal in her very first game. It is these small but crucial moments that will make us successful this year.

We were consistent across every quarter and every part of the ground, playing fair, aggressive and quick football all day. Katie spent added time up forward and led up the ground really well with her voice all day highlighting what makes her a great leader. Niamh pulled a long shift in the ruck, fighting the heat for almost the entire game. Jen did an excellent job when thrown suddenly into the ruck as well and Sarah starred with 4 goals in her debut.

A great game for our girls and we now look ahead to Cambodia for the ICC in just a few weeks!

Swans 17.15 – 117 def Hong Kong 1.2 – 8

Amy – 6, Sarah – 4, Ev, Eimear, Fiona, Yen, Brody, Katie, Mary – 1
Amy, Sarah, Brody, Ev, Katie, Jen

Men’s Match (Written by Ryan Tishler, Vietnam Swans Mens Coach)

Amongst the heatwave here in Saigon, things were also about to heat up at RMIT for the Vietnam Swans annual ANZAC day match with this year welcoming the Hong Kong Dragons. Having faced off a year prior, the Dragons brought over an improved squad with more numbers and were looking for redemption after the Swans got the win last time. The Swans were looking to build on their momentum in international games after their win against Malaysia. After the formalities and the Last Post it was game time and both teams were itching to get out there.

1st quarter Swans 5.7 (37) Dragons 2.1 (13)

A slow start is not what the Swannies were wanting, like it was in the first quarter against Malaysia two weeks prior. It was spoken about pre match and the boys responded with a 5 goal to 2 first quarter. The pressure was high from both teams and it was a bit of an arm wrestle in the midfield for the first half of the quarter until eventually the Swans got on top and took control around the stoppages. Banging that ball inside 50 time and time again with Villa getting on the end of those as he was the main target in the forward line. Swans by 24 points at the break.

2nd quarter Swans 8.12 (60) Dragons 2.2 (14)

Even though the Swannies had a healthy lead at the break, there was some easy goals that went begging in the first quarter and it was much the same in the second, having kicked 3.5 but the pressure was still there as the Dragons couldn’t find any space without a Swans player being on their tail, and when they would eventually find some space it would get intercepted and rebounded out by either Nate Milner or Matty Barton, keeping the Dragons goalless in this quarter. Matt Barton especially was crucial in this quarter in defence, not losing any of his one on one battles with his direct opponent and was involved in contests where he was on the receiving end of some big hits but he got back up straight away inspiring his fellow teammates. Swans lead by 46 points at half time.

3rd quarter Swans 12.20 (92) Dragons 3.3 (21)

Before halftime the Dragons threw one of their best players of the day Saucey down back as a spare man to stymie the supply that was coming in for the Swans big forwards and a tactic they continued with in the third quarter. It was becoming a little crowded in the F50 so guys like Pete Mac and Cam King pushed further up the ground and found a lot more space on the wings. They both got a ton of the footy in this quarter setting up scores for the Swans forwards and created opportunities for themselves in front of goals with only their accuracy letting them down. The Swans dictated the play here kicking 4.8 for the quarter to the Dragons 1.1. Swans by 71 points at the final break.

4th quarter Swans 20. 24 (144) Dragons 4.5 (29)

The final quarter and the Dragons threw everything they could but like it was all day the Swans had all the answers, producing their best quarter of the day kicking an accurate 8.4. The pressure from the Swans did not wane and it was lead by the young brigade in Jed, Hung and Patty who did not give up all day. There was some scintillating ball movement from the back half to the forward half creating scoring opportunities for our big men in Villa, Spence and best on ground Jono which between them kicked a combined 6 goals. The Dragons tried their best but the pressure was too much. Swans win by 115 points.

A fantastic showing from both sides with the game being played courage and no team giving up until the final siren. The heat played a major factor as the Dragons haven’t played in this type of weather for awhile and as the game wore on, you could tell which team was more acclimatised to it. Bald, former ruckman turned rover Jono Mackay took out best on ground honours with his around the ground dominance and 3 goal display.

Swans now turn their attention to the ICC tournament in Siem Riep, Cambodia where they will be defending their title against Cambodia and Thailand. HONK HONK HONK!!!