NZ OPEN MIXED ON TOP OF THE WORLD
New Zealand Open Mixed win Tag Football World Championship 2012
NZ Tag Football Open Mixed team brought their ‘A’ game to town and beat the previously unbeaten Australian team in the Grand final 11-6 at the ITFF Tag Football World Cup 2012. The game was played at North Harbour Stadium in the main arena on Saturday 8 December before several hundred spectators and Sky TV cameras.
On the way to the final New Zealand were pooled to play seven round robin games against Tokelau, Niue, Great Britain/Ireland, Lebanon, NZ Maori, Samoa and Australia Barbarians. New Zealand went through pool play unbeaten, however they were given a nice wake up call against Great Britain/Ireland winning the game 5-3. A strong start by New Zealand sealed the victory, and they managed to hold off the fight back from the feisty GBR team.
The semi final saw New Zealand play Australia Indigenous, unfortunately for the Australian Indigenous they met a team on a mission, and were blown off the park 21-7 by the New Zealanders. Coach Peter Pakau credits the semi final win as a great TEAM VICTORY, and was a great confidence boost heading into the final against the Aussies.
Although Australia scored first and played with pace, they were no match for New Zealand’s staunch defence, and from turnover ball New Zealand punched holes and attacked from all over the field to score some amazing tries against a previously solid Australian lineup. The pressure New Zealand put on the Australian’s on both attack and defence was just too much, and in the end New Zealand won the game convincingly 11-6.
Coach and Manager West Aucklanders Peter Pakau and wife Diane Pakau have been involved in Tag Football for many years and have also had many successful teams and campaigns over the years at club, national and now international level. Coach Peter Pakau credits the win to an impressive lineup of woman players in this team. “In previous mixed teams, the ladies have always been the weak link, this New Zealand team our ladies were our backbone and definitely our strength. I have confidence to play these ladies anywhere on the field and they can do the job just as good as our guys.”
Our Ladies MVP went to Laura Mariu, who was our majestical playmaker in the middles and worked tirelessly on defence, and led from the front. Our Mens MVP went to our flying winger/sweeper Lelia Masaga, who also was also our top tryscorer.
We were fortunate to have two Super 15 players as part of our team but all in all we had strengths all over the field and as many enthusiastic tag fans out there put it, this was “THE DREAM TEAM” of Open Mixed Tag Football.
The New Zealand Open Mixed made the NZTFI history books as the only New Zealand side to win a title at the inaugural ITFF Tag Football World Cup 2012.