South Africa has come from behind in a thriller to defeat Fiji in the AFL men’s division one International Cup.
After Fiji got out to a three goal lead late in the third quarter, the Lions flicked the switch and piled on three late goals to be within five points of Fiji at the final break.
A thrilling final quarter followed, highlighted by a South African star only known as “Hippo” unloading a 55 metre drop punt to give the Lions the lead.
After a frantic few final minutes, the siren went and the South African crowd erupted at the Anthony Costa oval, the final score being 4.5.29 to 3.8.26
“Hippo” was named best on ground in a fantastic performance.
The St Mary’s football club has forged a tight relationship with the South Africans over the past few years, with the club taking their junior players on a cultural exchange program to South Africa every second year since 2012.
Current St Mary’s senior footballer Damian McMahon (who was apart of the program in 2012) was thrilled with the turnout and win from the South Africans.
“It was a fantastic night, amazing turnout from the people from the footy club and from the South Africans, the atmosphere was electric,” McMahon said.
McMahon also said he had formed a close relationship with some of the players from the Dragons, praising their attitude towards their football.
“It’s awesome to watch the boys play, they’re full of life and truly show the passion that should be shown in a team sport, they love their team and play for their teammates,” he said.
The event was the first time a crowd had seen the Anthony Costa oval’s new $360,000 upgraded lights ablaze, in which the four light towers were installed with 200 lux globes that have provided a capacity for night football.
St Mary’s senior footballers Ben Webb and Sam Hosking described the lights and ground as “surreal.”
“The lights look great and it covers the ground really well, it has created a great spectacle and hopefully we can play many more night games here in the future,” Hosking said.
St Mary’s hasn’t played a night game of football at home, so Webb was thrilled with the “new and exciting way for the community to view local football,” and the hope that the Saints would be able to host their own night games in the future in both senior football and juniors.
The South African’s were seen the next day at Hamlyn Park to cheer on the St Mary’s colts, reserves and seniors in their games against Bell Park.