The View From Down Here #52

Big week in Australian sport, and I’ve got all the details here. Not only that, but I went to the RAW house show here in Adelaide and was underwhelmed somewhat. So let’s get on with it!

Cricket
English Tour
First test match in the Ashes series!
(Played at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff)
England 1st innings – 435; Australia 1st innings – 6(dec)/674; England 2nd innings – 9/252
            Match drawn
As I have indicated over the past couple of weeks, Australia’s batsmen were definitely in form and really ran over the top of the English bowlers. But the Aussie bowlers were ineffective, especially on the last day when the game was there to be won. The English tail-enders put up a great fight, and the Australians just could not get that last wicket, even after being given some extra time.
            But the big thing out of this test was Australian captain Ricky Ponting’s assertion that the English deliberately wasted time to save the game, and brought into question their sportsmanship. There were lots of questions to the umpires, a change of gloves and the team physiotherapist came out even though neither man looked to be in any distress at all. It was quite an anti-climatic end to what had been quite a good game of cricket.

            And I don’t mind saying that I was impressed and a little amazed by the way both teams played. They showed great skills and the battle was intense. All I can say after this is: bring on the Second Test!

Australian Rules Football
AFL Round Fifteen
The round saw quite a few players booked for striking and rough conduct, which made it an entertaining round from that stand-point. But the result of the round goes to Adelaide and Fremantle…
Western Bulldogs 16.14 (110) def by Collingwood 17.9 (111)
            One of the greatest comebacks in AFL history by the Western Bulldogs, ruined only by the fact they lost by one point in the end. A six-goal to one final quarter just was not quite enough…
Sydney 10.12 (72) def by Essendon 15.17 (107)
            Barry Hall admitted defeat and quit the Swans this week, leaving Sydney without one of their stalwarts. He claimed he could not control his anger. And this clearly upset the Swans as they went down at home to the Bombers…
Carlton 16.13 (109) def Richmond 12.17 (89)
            The result was down to one player: Brendan Fevola and his nine goals. He was the difference between the teams. And if you can get a chance to watch the highlights of his goal-kicking – especially yhe freak over his head in the middle of the air shot – do so. It was an amazing spectacle. The guy runs hot and cold, but when he’s hot, there are none better.
Brisbane 16.12 (108) def Geelong 9.11 (65)
            I said last week that I felt the loser of the Geelong/St Kilda game would start to lose afterwards. And they did. Yes, they had eight good players out (including most of their back line), but Brisbane still had to capitalise on it. And they did. And suddenly the race for the flag has been thrown wide open.
Adelaide 19.16 (130) def… no, completely humiliated Fremantle 1.7 (13)
            Yes, you read that right. Fremantle scored ONE GOAL in an entire match. Now Adelaide were good, but they weren’t that good. Fremantle were AWFUL. They scored one behind in the first half, the worst since 1995 (when Fitzroy scored nothing). It was also the first time since 1961 that a team scored only one goal for a match in VFL/AFL circles (this is a complicated thing which I will explain one day – what the VFL/AFL union/break means)… But this was not a good game. It was a glorified training run. Mind you, Adelaide look like genuine premiership contenders.
Hawthorn 10.13 (73) def North Melbourne 9.10 (64)
            Ho-hum game made vaguely exciting by injuries and alleged rough conduct.
Melbourne 15.11 (101) def Port Adelaide 13.11 (89)
            Melbourne are no longer the hot contenders for the wooden spoon, and Port Adelaide are no longer contenders for the finals. That’s about all that can be said for this one. Mind you, Jurrah from Melbourne was exciting to watch; if he isn’t over-used into oblivion by the undermanned Demons, he will definitely be a player to watch in the future.
West Coast 11.4 (70) def by St. Kilda 13.12 (90)
            Even at three quarter time, the Saints piled it on in the last quarter to get the win. But it was not convincing… and the finals race is out of any of the top five teams (St Kilda, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Collingwood, Adelaide). Finally, this season is a close one and could be a good final couple of months before the finals action hits…
SANFL Round Fifteen
Sturt 22.14 (146) def Woodville-West Torrens 13.12 (90)
            Sturt are really confirming their standing as the team on the rise at the moment. I can see a Double Blues-Glenelg grand final, especially after other results this round. On the other hand, the Eagles fought well, but just could not match Sturt. This won’t be their year.
West Adelaide 11.8 (74) def Central Districts 9.12 (66)
            A further dent in Centrals’ campaign for yet another flag as Westies came off last week’s humiliation at the hands of Sturt to take a firm grip on this game. Centrals are running too hot and cold at the moment.
Port Adelaide 20.6 (126) def South Adelaide 10.7 (67)
            The Panthers lost again, but this time they only put up token resistance. I said last week they were getting into a culture of losing, and this game showed that very clearly.
North Adelaide 13.11 (89) def Norwood 5.10 (4)
            Norwood have really fallen off the radar in the past few weeks. Second to bottom on the ladder and struggling against all comers is not a good sign not only for this year but for the immediate future.
Bye: Glenelg

Netball
Finals – Semi-Finals
Major Semi-final

Vixens 58 def Magic 43
            A completely expected result. The Vixens now get a week off and get home court advantage in the grand final. They outclassed the Magic in all departments, and the result was never really in doubt. The Magic now have to go on next week and face the winner of the minor semi-final, remembering that Adelaide hammered them just last week.
Minor Semi-final
Thunderbirds 51 def Steel 45
            In winning, Adelaide go on to face the Magic next week for a spot in the grand final, while the Steel has to lick their wounds and try to come back next year. But considering last week’s result, the Magic (despite being at home) have their work cut our for them against a formidable (and, to quote their own website, ‘hungry’) Thunderbirds outfit. I am reckoning on a T-Birds win, and then a monumental grand final the week after…

Auto-Racing
Formula One
German Grand Prix

1st: Mark Webber
2nd: Sebastian Vettel
3rd: Felipe Massa
            It’s now official: with his first win after more than 130 starts, Mark Webber is no longer the most over-rated sports-person in Australia. His win from pole was a good tactical race, and has actually become a source of national pride. It is, after all, the first win by an Australian in Formula One since Alan Jones in 1981. And, more than that, Webber sits third on the over-all standings with a series of podium finishes, still a fair way behind first-placed Jenson Button, but within striking distance of second-placed team-mate Vettel.
            Oh, and as to who now carries the mantle of the most over-rated Australian sports person? Any female tennis player…
V-8 Supercars
The latest round has been the Dunlop Townsville 400, held in north Queensland.
Race 11
1st Jamie Whincup (TeamVodafone – Ford Falcon)
2nd Will Davison (Toll Holden Racing Team – Holden Commodore)
3rd Garth Tander (Toll Holden Racing Team – Holden Commodore)
Race 12
1st James Courtney (Jim Beam Racing – Ford Falcon)
2nd Jamie Whincup (TeamVodafone – Ford Falcon)
3rd Garth Tander (Toll Holden Racing Team – Holden Commodore)
            (You may notice I’ve included the team names this time… that’s because I received an e-mail telling me it was allegedly against the rules for me not to do so. Not that I’m accredited with the racing group, but I might as well follow their “rules”.)
            Some controversy as well, with spilled oil being blamed for Craig Lowndes lack of success in qualifying. I know, it’s not much, but there rarely is in this sport where the sport itself does the talking…

Rugby League
NRL – Round 18
The third game in the state of Origin is this week, so many teams were without players, and it affected several results, once more throwing the competition into disarray.
South Sydney 36 def Penrith 12
            An example of how the lack of players has affected things.
Newcastle 23 hammered Canberra 4
Warriors 14 def by Bulldogs 18
St George Illawarra 48 embarrassed Manly 18
            St George are really looking the team to beat at this stage of the year, but after Origin duties are over we shall see. I still think they’ll do it…
Gold Coast 18 def Parramatta 12
            Gold Coast are eying the finals eagerly after a good, close game.

Sporting Morons
Good week this week! Just one:
Nate Myles (Sydney Roosters, NRL): You know, just one, but it had to be a rugby league player, didn’t it? Young Myles has been stood down for six weeks after allegedly being naked in a hotel corridor after going out the wrong door after a night of drinking… and then defecating in the corridor after disturbing a family staying there. He did pay for damages and apologised, but… The man had a dump in a hotel corridor. Moron.
Tally: 32

Professional Wrestling
WWE RAW, Adelaide, Australia July 6, 2009
The show started with a high point with the announcement that John Cena could not make it, so if people wanted their money back, they were advised to get to the box office before the end of the second match. Apparently a total of 5 people took them up on the offer out of thousands (it was a sell-out at our largest – admittedly small – indoor venue) and three of those were teenaged girls.
Match 1: Goldust (with Hornswaggle) def Chavo Guerrero
            Something of a comedy match. After all was said and done, Hornswaggle hit his tadpole splash and the crowd was happy. Have to say, Goldust looked well, fitness wise.
Match 2: Sheamus def Santino Marello
            Two comedy matches in a row? Sheamus started by saying something about Irish = good, Italian = bad, but we really couldn’t understand him. Santino came out in an Adelaide Crows guernsey to suck up to the crowd (but failing). Basically a glorified squash for Sheamus. Hard to judge how good he could be from this.
Match 3: Jamie Noble def William Regal with a back-slide
            A technical match which bored some sections of the crowd, but got me (finally) into the show. Started off well also, with Regal copping stick from the crowd and responding with one simple sentence – “At least I’m not an Australian.” Really cool.
Match 4: Cody Rhodes (with Ted DiBiase Jr) def Carlito (with Primo)
            Lots of old school heel cheating goodness and behind-the-ref’s-back shenanigans. This match finally got the entire crowd into the night (despite Carlito’s over-use of the head-lock) and they had a good one as well. The ending came when Carlito accidentally hit Primo and was then taken out by Rhodes while DiBiase held Primo at bay, and some tension between the Colons was teased.
Match 5: Triple Threat for the US Title: Kofi Kingston (c) def The Miz and The Brian Kendrick
            Started off with the Miz coming out and cutting the longest promo of the night about his apparent awesomeness. Then Kendrick comes out, takes the mic, looks over the crowd, pauses… and says, “I got nothing,” before handing it back. Kingston was over amazingly. Good match with the heels teaming up on Kingston, but neither wanting to take the pin at the risk of upsetting the other. But then it broke down and became one of those rare 3-ways where all 3 are in the ring for most of the time. Kingston eventually got the pin on Kendrick. My personal match of the night.
Match 6: The Big Show def MVP with a chokeslam
            The Big Show was greeted with a huge pop, but some small children at the front took exception to him and abused him. He them got on the mic and shot back at them (“I’ve got socks older than you.”) and then spent a lot of the match antagonising them. He looked like he was having fun out there, and MVP was no slouch either. And now I’ve heard the chop Big Show does after hushing the crowd… ouch!
Match 7: Mickie James def Maryse (non-title)
            How to kill a crowd. Worst match I’ve seen live (and, remember, I watch a lot of local independent wrestling) in 2 years. Then hot crowd really faded during this marathon of botched spots (they screwed up and Irish Whip! How can you screw up and Irish whip?) and unconvincing offense. If this was on PPV, it’d be the piss break match.
Match 8: World Title match: HHH def Randy Orton
            Yes, you read that right. No, the title did not change hands. It was by DQ. Strong match, a little slow in parts, but the ending between the two was hot, and then Priceless came in to take out HHH (thus drawing the DQ) until the Primo and Carlito team ran out to make the save. They then managed to corner Rhodes, where Carlito gave him a backstabber and HHH a pedigree to send the crowd home happy. The three of them then played musical crowds for their own amusement, and after 2 hours of actual wrestling the show was over.
            Final thoughts: Not a blow-away show, but not a horrendously bad one either (women aside). More actual in-ring wrestling than last time Raw was in town, but I still find the lack of commentators slightly jarring, especially in matches like Sheamus/Santino or chick 1/chick 2 where they really did not do well in telling their story in the ring. Still an enjoyable night. I took my niece and she enjoyed herself, so it was a good night. Still, from a live stand-point, give me the RCW shows I frequent every time.

 

And that’s the view!

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