Thursday, July 12, 2012
As you have read (or will read once Kaz puts up her report) we had a late game against Columbia on Tuesday. The game started at 6:30pm and didn't finish till 8:50pm. We were lucky our amazing support crew got the dining room to stay open late so we could have dinner. We did our warm down post dinner on the spikey grass outside of the dorm rooms next to the main stadium (where the Japanese teams are staying). This was quite exciting as there were a number of crabs wandering about ready to scare the team. The organisers made sure we got home on a non-scheduled 10pm bus. While there have been a few logistical challenges at other times in this tournament we were very grateful to them for ensuring we were fed and transported. It was 10:30pm by the time we got back to the hotel.
There was no relief for us as we had a 9am game against Finland the next morning. This means being in the bus queue at 7:15am at the very latest or risking getting stuck waiting for a bus since there are often 8+ teams waiting for the buses at that time and a bus only hold 2 teams. Finland hadn't been performing well up to that point and we were expecting an easier game. However Finland had other ideas. They told us after the game that it was their best game of the tournament. They played very well and made us work hard for our points. The game went to time cap and fortunately we came away with the win 17-12.
Later that afternoon we took on Great Britain. We were expecting a tough game and they brought it. We got up a few and then GB came back to make it close, this happened a couple of times. After beating them by 1 point in 2008 I didn't think my nerves could handle another close finish - fortunately we really stepped it up in the last few points and pulled away to win 17-12.
It was nice to get back to the hotel and have a little bit of downtime after the two full days. Our captain, Crossie, was injured in the Columbia game and needed to get an x-ray on her foot. She went to the local hospital and I was a bit surprised to receive a call from her later that evening. Like many places in Japan the hospital only took cash and she didn't have enough on her to pay the bill. After a bit of confusion of how to get to the hospital I eventually got there to bail her out! Fortunately Rhi, our physio, has managed to locate both crutches and a wheelchair for her so she is being wheeled around in style.
Today we had our final 2 pool games. As we had lost 3 games already (Japan, Canada, Columbia) we needed to win both games today to make the semi-finals. Beating Team USA (Fury) the defending champions was always going to be a steep ask. The wind decided to come along and make it even harder. It has been reasonably windy during much of the tournament, particularly in the afternoons. The wind this morning was much stronger, a different direction and our field had a gusty up-down wind. We started on O from the upwind end and scored cleanly to be up 1-0. We came close to scoring an upwinder on the next point but couldn't complete and the US capitalised and scored their own upwinder. From there we were always playing catch-up. We weren't playing badly but the US showed their skills in the wind and we were down 9-4 at half. Our offence worked well in the second half but it wasn't enough to make up the deficit, final score 17-9.
On the field next to us Great Britain were playing Columbia. If they won then we would have been on the right end of a three-way tie and taken the 4th semi-final spot. Unfortunately for us (and GB) they went down by a couple so that was the end of our semi-final aspirations.
We regrouped by watching the Barramundis (mixed team) take on the Phillipines in their quarter-final. They got a good win and go through to the semi-finals tomorrow.
Our final round-robin game was against New Zealand. We had played them several times in the build up and so were relatively confident going on. Our offence looked the best it has all tournament in the first half and we held a comfortable 9-1 lead. The Kiwis picked it up in the second half but we still finished with a 17-5 win.
Tomorrow we have the 5v8 game to determine which positions we'll play off for in the afternoon. We will play the Kiwis again in that game, and coincidentally Germany and GB who also played last game this afternoon will play in the 6v7 game.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
The real deal has arrived. We are two games down at the World Champs!
Yesterday we attended the opening ceremony, after which we warmed up and then later returned to the main stadium to play Japan in our opening game. We didn't get the fanfare of the Open game between Japan and New Zealand, with team captains receiving flowers from Miss Japan. The grass on the main stadium is beautifully kept, much like a bowling green. The wind which had been strong at the start of the Open game and dropped off a fair bit.
We didn't have a great first half, being 9-5 at half. We fired up after half and got a break back. The Japanese gave us plenty of opportunities with the disc but we didn't manage to convert enough. Final score 17-10 to Japan. Lauren "Mama" Brown had several layout blocks and Ash Martens also got some great layout Os and was awarded MVP by the Japanese after the game. There are some photos from our game available on Neil Gardner's great website.
Miss Japan was on the sideline the entire game, being filmed constantly. She had been kitted out in a Japanese team uniform and I think she was supposed to be providing some sort of commentary?? The press were certainly very keen to film her - I can't quite imagine Miss Australia standing on the sideline of a game in Australia. Yes another cultural difference I guess.
The officials are very officious, we are not allowed to take anything except water on to the fields (no sports drinks). The reason being that sweet drinks attract ants and ants eat the grass. We also had to walk on this weird plastic stuff on the away sideline and were not allowed on the grass next to the sideline. Additionally we were not allowed to warm down on the spare grass, though Kylie did some good work with the officials, and we did finish our warm down on the edge of the fields.
This morning we had our second game against Singapore. It is exciting to now have our Assistant Coach, Anna, here in Japan with us (she flew in last night). We ended up winning 17-5, but still plenty of things to work on. Most of us then watched the Barramundis (mixed team) take down Germany, and then the Wombats (men's masters) take the highly prized scalp of the USA.
Another curiosity of Japan is the lack of rubbish bins even though there is excessive packaging on everything. There are no rubbish bins at the fields, there are signs up telling us to take our rubbish back to our hotels. Extreme packaging abounds in the fruit and vegie section of the supermarket. Carrots are indiviually cling-wrapped and then bagged, oranges also get individually bagged.
Friday, July 6, 2012
The Firetails are comfortably settled into our hotel in Sakai. We have been enjoying sleeping in beds, in rooms with dark curtains, allowing us to be fully rested in preparation for the opening game on Saturday. The hotel staff have been a little shocked at the uncouthness of some of the Australians - with barefoot breakfasters sent back to their rooms to get shoes. Most of the other Australian teams have also arrived so we have enjoyed hearing their adventures and trying to avoid contact with those people from the mixed team who have unfortunately had gastro.
We had our final warm-up game yesterday against Team Canada. The conditions were not ideal with rain and wind. We played on one of the astro-turf fields, many of our games will be on this surface so it was good to get a feel for conditions. I think a few people will be changing cleats for the next time we play on astro-turf!
We played a 60 minute game. There were quite a lot of turnovers in most points; due to the difficult wind conditions and tight defence on both sides. The Firetails managed to convert early going up 4-1, then 6-4. Late lapses in concentration meant a disappointing end score of 9-6 to Canada. It was a good for us to have to play against a team with a different style to Japanese teams we have been playing in the last week.
Next time we play will be in the opening game against the Japanese - Saturday 7 July 4:30pm local time (5:30pm AEST). As Kaz mentioned in her last post it will be streamed live by NGN see www.ngnultimate.com/schedule.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Don't miss one of your only chances to check us out live and online!
Yeah Firetails - here we are with one of our opponents from the pre-tour... KAWAII!
Monday, July 2, 2012
The Tokyo leg of the Firetails pre-tour ended yesterday with two excellent wins.
The format for Sunday followed that of Friday with 2 full-length games, first one at 10:30am against the Japanese women's masters team. We came out with intense man defense which created pressure almost every point. I think the final score was 17-9 (not sure might've been more to the Japanese). Unfortunately Mama and Keah had a collision going for a D coming off a contested stall, Keah has a corked calf.
We were expecting to have a long break before our second game but we were informed by the Japanese that it would be raining at 3:30pm and asked if we could start earlier. Fortunately Crossie managed to negotiate us a 2:15pm start instead of the 1pm time they suggested! So we did our weigh-ins to check we were all hydrating appropriately, had some lunch and then a shortened warm-up before our final game in Japan.
This game was an opportunity for revenge against the Mud/Huck team we lost to yesterday. We came out amped up in the first half and took half 9-7 (?). We didn't always get blocks but the pressure was there. We lost a little bit of focus in the early stages of the second half but after a time-out we pulled through to take the last 3 points of the game winning 17-13. We were only playing with 18 players due to quite a few niggles. The fields we have played on over the last 3 days (Edogawa Sports Grounds) have been very hard, as Shaz mentioned yesterday in some places gravel/rock exposed on the ground. Our bodies are all pretty sore from it and our wonderful physio Rhi has been kept busy.
We eased our aching bodies at an Onsen on Sunday evening. Well, those of us who didn't have gaping wounds, swollen body parts or other issues which stopped us being allowed in.
On Monday we relocate to Kyoto for a couple of days of sight-seeing and some light training. We have been happy with our performance to date on the field (6 wins from 7) and thoroughly enjoying each others company so in a really good position going into worlds.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
We have been enjoying the cultural intrigue of being in Tokyo. It's not really a city full of big attractions which you must see but more a place where you can wander the streets and find crazy things to marvel at.
One of the first things that got the attention of the team was a toy shop. It was 4 floors of sometimes conventional toys but often times things which had us intrigued. I assisted Kylie in one of her purchases of an iphone cover, which she has found highly amusing. It has produced an earful of puns, though when they started to wear a bit thin she went over and showed it off the the Japanese teams who all laughed at (with?) her.
To get to the fields we've been playing at for the last 3 days we've had to get a train and then a bus. We've been fortunate to be travelling against the flow during peak hour but the trains are still reasonably busy. This lovely lady fell asleep on Cath yesterday which we found quite amusing.
The bus is pretty small and basically fits the entire team comfortably but many more people. On our walk back from the fields we go past a drive way where yesterday afternoon we encountered a turtle. We're not sure whether it is a pet or if it serves some other purpose but it seems to live to a plastic container not much larger then itself.
We've also been enjoying the food and drink that Japan offers. Our lunches have been catered for those who want Japanese (delicious rice balls) and Western (standard Aussie frisbee sandwich fare). Unfortunately we didn't get a movie of Keah giving a master class on how to open the rice ball packets. There is also an amazing variety of iced coffee which is one of the only things keeping our coach, Kylie, sane....