The View From Down Here #32

Another brief one, as training is kicking up a gear or three. Next Monday (March 9) is the first show… Wish us luck!
            Here in Australia we’re in that strange overlap part of the year where cricket, basketball and soccer are all winding down and the football codes are picking up slowly. It’s sort of a no man’s land for sporting fans, where we’re winding down and winding up at the same time…


Scores. You know, you’d think with a new league starting up there’d be a lot more hype and advertising and recruitment of new fans, wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong. This is Australian basketball! They apparently set out to fail.
NBL – Semi-Finals
Semi-finals are a best of 3 series.
South Dragons 94 def Townsville 81
Melbourne 117 def New Zealand 99
Townsville 82 def South Dragons 77
New Zealand 97 lost to Melbourne 103
            And New Zealand Breakers are out in straight sets.
South Dragons 101 def Townsville 78
            This one went purely on home results, which is interesting in one way, but does show a flaw in the system in another. However, Souths have been the better team all year, so the result is not that surprising.
Grand Final
Starting on Wednesday, the best of 5 grand final series between South Dragons and Melbourne Tigers – the two Victorian teams – will proceed. Who will be most probably the last NBL champion? This actually has some poignancy… and it’s not a little sad to see a national sporting body in its death throes.
The women also reach the pointy end of the season. Their finals series is a little more straight forward
Elimination Final
            Loser is eliminated
Adelaide 81 def Bendigo 73
First Semi-Final
            Loser goes to Preliminary final; winner to grand final
Canberra 60 def Bulleen 52
Second Semi-Final
            Loser is eliminated; winner goes to Preliminary final
Townsville 91 def Adelaide 78
So next week is the preliminary final, and the week after the grand final!


Grand Final

Melbourne 1 def Adelaide 0
After a full-on year competing in seemingly every major soccer tournament possible in this part of the world, Adelaide have finished without anything to show for all their hard work.
            On the other hand, Melbourne were helped no end by the referees, ignoring Melbourne’s flouting of the rules (especially Kevin Muscat) and red-carding an Adelaide player who should not have been. Sure, that’s the nature of sport, but it just seems that this year Melbourne has benefitted more than any other club.
            Now, I’m not saying this because I am South Australian, because Melbourne deserved to be the winners with their overall performances this year. It’s just that it is a damn shame that the most important match of the year can be ruined because of sloppy, allegedly biased officiating.


International Cricket
First Test

Australia 466 and 207; South Africa 220 and 291 – Australia won by 162 runs
So, where was this Australia all summer at home? Ruthless, going in for the kill, aggressive… all the qualities missing at home. And what is wrong with South Africa? Does the pressure of a home crowd really affect these two teams that much? Wow, that’s some psychological baggage there, guys. I hope Australia sticks with its current team, even if Phil Hughes failed in the first inning, and lets them settle, but with the Cricket Australia board who knows? Although Hughes is safe, because he comes from New South Wales… Which is not fair as I think he should have been in the team from the start of the summer. I still think Ponting is overrated as a captain, but the team actually finally looked the goods.
Domestic Cricket
Sheffield Shield

With Victoria already into the final, the race is now on to see who will face them at the MCG in the 5-day decider come the middle of March. It is an open race, and literally anyone can make it with the right results. I love this season!
Victoria 535 and 158; Tasmania 300 and 5/155 – match drawn (Victoria – 2 pts)
New South Wales 269 and 149; Queensland 7 dec/547 – Queensland won by an innings and 129 runs (Qld – 6 pts)
Western Australia 243 and 228; South Australia 9 dec/457 and 1/17 – South Australia won by 9 wickets (SA – 6 pts)


Australian Rules Football
Pre-Season Cup (NAB Cup)
In general, the pre-season comp has been disappointing from the point of view of watching good football. It has been mundane at best. I just hope the season proper improves or else this is going to be a long winter…
Round 2
Collingwood 1.13.10 (97) def Richmond 2.3.15 (51)
            This match was pretty run of the mill. But it was notable for one reason – Ben Cousins made his comeback to the sport after 18 months in exile due to drug use. The AFL claims this is because of their drug-testing, but that is not the case at all. He was never caught by the AFL, despite having what appeared to be a legitimate problem. He slipped through the system of what the AFL claims is the best testing regime in the world. He was caught by some-one with a video camera. Now, I think it is good that he made a comeback, and it shows that people can rehabilitate themselves if given the right incentives. But it also shows that the AFL is so much hot air and only pays lip service while trying to extract every last cent from paying punters.
            However, congratulation to Ben Cousins for getting himself back on track, and although he ran out of puff in the second half, he had a pretty good game as well.
Essendon 0.9.13 (67) just scraped past Brisbane 1.7.14 (65)
Port Adelaide 1.6.9 (54) lost to Geelong 0.11.6 (72)
            While not a surprising result, the one issue here is the crowd. NAB crowds have been appalling this year (apart from Collingwood v Richmond, but that was due to one player); this was downright embarrassing. For the first AFL game to be played in Adelaide for the year, they scraped together a crowd of 8,000? During the regular season anything less than 26,000 is terrible; 40,000 is the norm. I think on this alone, the NAB Cup is not a huge success.
Carlton 2.13.15 (111) def Hawthorn 2.10.10 (88)
            Last year’s premiers defeated. But the game did not reach any great heights.


Rugby Union
I do not know enough about the comings and goings and intricacies of the Super-14 concept to be able to predict who is looking good and who is not living up to pre-season expectations. So I’ll just sit back and enjoy some quality rugby and cheer for no-one… and remember my own brief foray into this brutal but skilful sport. And then give you all the results:
Super 14 – Round 3
Lions 9 lost to Bulls 16
Stormers 8 lost to Blues 14
Reds 22 def Cheetahs 3
Chiefs 15 lost to Sharks 22
Brumbies 16 lost to Force 25
Crusaders 24 lost to Hurricanes 30
Waratahs 34 def Highlanders 16


Rugby League
Charity Shield
South Sydney 18 def St George Illawarra 6
            Souths win something! And it would be churlish of me to suggest that this will be the only silverware they win for a while…


Closing Thoughts
            The world economic downturn (I love that phrase… seems so innocent) is hitting everyone hard. We have governments all over the world going into debt to kept massive capital works under way in order to stimulate the economy.
            Now, here’s my question: If every nation on earth is going into debt to stimulate their economy, where is this money coming from? I mean, they have to borrow money to go into debt, right? So who they borrowing from? Is there just some rich oil sheikh somewhere who doles out money at exorbitant rates of interest? Or does this money really not exist, so no-one needs to pay it back, and everything is cool? Or does the money not exist, so none of this stimulus stuff will work?
            Basically, to misquote a much over-rated movie: “Show us the money!”


Oh, and another thing – there is an Australian film out at the moment about the clash of cultures between Lebanese immigrants and Caucasian Australians. Its showing has led to fights between these factions at cinemas. My God, people, it’s a movie! And it’s not that good! When will the morons of society learn that the reason there are stereotypes is because of actions like this? Redneck Australians and Lebanese youth are now being portrayed as pathetic and unable to think without using their fists. And if people like me say anything, we are accused of being racist. All I want is a society where my kids can grow up to be safe, without being harassed because of the colour of their skin or their ethnic background. And there is nowhere in the world where that can happen. Thank-you very much, gutter media and your demonising of everything different from the dominant culture…


And that’s this week’s view.

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