The 2017 Australian Police Rugby League team defeated the FIJIAN Police team in Suva by 12 points to 10.
The Australian Police Rugby league Team (APRL) went into camp at Coogee to prepare for the challenging campaing of travelling to FIJI to play the FIJI Police team on their home soil. The last time the two teams met was the 2013 Police Rugby League World Cup Final won by the APRL team in Leeds England.
At the official dinner and jumper presentation, special guest Rugby league legend Laurie Daley, presented the ‘boys’ playing jumpers and spoke to “the boys” along with former Assistant Commissioner Alan Clarke APM, who fired “the boys” up.
The following day the APRL team flew to FIJI prior to travelling to the beautiful Naviti resort where the team was based. It was a fantastic experience with the team walking through creeks and around FIJIAN villages to get to the training field for the Captain’s run.
On game day, the APRL team travelled by bus to the ANZ Stadium in the FIJIAN Capital SUVA, to play the curtain raiser to a three way International trial hit-out between the FIJI Bati, Papua New Guinea and the Australian Kangaroos.
The temperature was stifling and so was the game with some massive hits in the opening exchanges. A high error count from both teams was the result of the heat and the brutality of the contest. The APRL were well on top throughout the first half with Brendan Williams from VICPOL taking the line on before being tackled close to the FIJIAN try line. A quick play the ball allowed the clever QLD half Alan Helsinger, throw a fantastic short pass to hard running QLD Centre Hayden Lea, who opened the scoring. Lea’s try conversion was missed with the APRL leading 4 points to nil. Tough NSW Prop Brayden Sharrock, was fantastic up front in the forward battle, along with QLD hooker Jarrad Knox who was hitting the FIJIAN runners very hard along with APRL Captain Mitch West and uncompromising lock forward Danny Lawrence. QLD fullback Jake Carl was brilliant from the back causing the FIJIAN Police team danger each time he touched the ball. Australia took the 4 points to nil lead into the well deserved half-time break.
The 2nd half opened up as fast as the first, with FIJI desperate to get on the score-board. Australia had to repel wave after wave of FIJI attack after making errors under pressure as they attempted to get out of their half and constant defensive pressure from the home side. The FIJIAN half-back cleverly dummied and found a hole in the APRL defensive line and passes to his support, an edge runner who scored for FIJI to level up. FIJI converted the try to lead 6.4. The game was going down to the wire and the APRL answered the challenge to lift under pressure from the FIJIAN opposition. Relentless attack by the APRL paid dividens when a deft Brendan Williams grubber kick allowed the brilliant Australian Fullback Jake Carl, to score out wide and put the APRL back in the lead. Carl converted his try to push the APRL out to a 10 points to 6 lead. The APRL team was gaining ascendency and returned to the FIJIAN line to put the game away when a FIJIAN defender back slam tackle was penalised in front of the post. Carl kicked the penalty goal to push the APRL lead out to a 12 points to 6 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
An error from the kick off allowed FIJI to attack, whereby they threw the ball from sideline to sideline looking for a way through, but were repelled by desperate Australian defence. Fiji sustained pressure and finally scored out wide after some brilliant passing and open running football. The conversion was missed allowing Australia to maintain the lead 12 points to 10.
The game wasn’t over and as Australia were attacking the FIJI line with 30 seconds left on the clock, a dubious stripped ball from FIJI allowed them to runaway and a passing frenzy involving almost everyone in their team had the APRL team chasing hard in defence to keep the home side from scoring. The full-time siren finally sounded after an Australian three man tackle but the referee penalised the Aussies for an offside offence after the siren. This allowed Fiji to take a penalty goal attempt to draw the match. Fingernails were bitten to the quick as the FIJIAN goal-kicker took his time to attempt leveling the score, but the kick narrowly missed the up-rights and Australia survived with a famous victory, and retained the Police World Cup.
Best for Australia was the experienced half-back Brendan Williams who kicked, tackled and took on the line in a magnificent performance. Close behind Brendan were the ever reliable Danny Lawrence, tough Jarrad Knox and the brilliant Jake Carl. Brayden Sharrock and Mitch West were great up front and special mention to the Affiliated States Utility, Cade Depervanche who changed the game the APRL’s way when he came on with spirited hard running and tackling. Also, special mention to Rhys Whalepole who played front row and then filled in at centre when needed.
After the game the Australian Police Team were guests of the Fijian police at their Police Club, drinking Kava with the Fiji boys.
The Australian Police Team were also guests of the Australian Kangaroos at their Grand Pacific Hotel after match function.
The team is now enjoying a couple of days rest and relaxation in beautiful FIJI, prior to returning home in beautiful Fiji. Story, Coach Craig Sheridan APM (edited Peter Nissen).
Training FIJI style.
Stretching in paradise.
Matt Gary fitness Eastern Suburbs Sydney.
APRL 2017 enjoy the FIJI experience.
APRL at the airport.