The View From Down Here #40

This weekend marks one of the most important holidays for Australians. ANZAC Day. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and the date – April 25 – commemorates those who died in all wars Australians have been involved in. We have never had a civil war, and only the Japanese bombing of Australia during World War II encroached upon our shores. And yet every conflict since the Boer War has seen Australians die defending other countries.
            The actual day was originally designed to commemorate the botched landings at Gallipoli where British commanders (including future PM Winston Churchill) sent a bunch of young men to a secluded beach to be killed by Turkish troops with no back up or help. Now, in recent years the British have taken offence at this interpretation of events, but records seem to indicate it’s true – they sent young ‘colonials’ to the slaughter.
            Australians take this day very seriously. There are no longer veterans of Gallipoli left alive, however a few World War One veterans still live, and other wars are represented, and the children and grand children and great grand children of those brave soldiers march or line the streets or go to the war memorials to remember the fallen.
            And a part of that day in recent years has been football games. Solemnly marked, and involving traditional rivals, they are a good way to remember the battles of the past (and present, all over the world, where Australians are involved) by watching a far less harmful battle of the present.
            Remember always; lest we forget.

International Cricket
It’s now Australia v Pakistan, only because of unrest it has been decided to play the matches at a neutral venue – Dubai in this case. This makes sense. To see the opposite of this, scroll down and find ‘tennis’.
First One Day International
Australia 168 (38.5 overs); Pakistan 6/171 (44.1 overs) – Pakistan won by 4 wickets
Australia’s batsmen cost them this one. The bowlers struggled vainly to defend an embarrassingly small total, and did quite well, but they just did not have enough runs on the board. This is to take nothing away from Pakistan who played a good, team game, and their spinners especially bowled particularly well against the Aussies.
Second One Day International
Pakistan 207 (46.2 overs); Australia 4/208 (45.1 overs) – Australia won by 6 wickets
Australia can thank one person for this victory – Andrew Symonds who has marked his return to the fold of the Australian cricket team by scoring a half century and taking two valuable wickets. The other thing going in Australia’s favour was some excellent catching in the field. The fielding positions were done well. Hang on, but I always blast Australian captain Ponting, and here is a positive comment. That’s right – Michael Clarke is acting captain for the series while Ponting has a rest and despite my own reservations, he has proven not only a good on-field general, but his honesty at press conferences and lack of surliness is a welcome change. But Symonds may well have played himself into the Australian team for the Ashes if he can back up in the next game.

Australian Rules Football
After last week you’d think nothing could go worse for the football players. Ah-ha, you’d be wrong! Fremantle’s players have apparently decided it would be funny to dress up as members of the Ku Klux Klan as a “joke”! But, hang on, they weren’t KKK members, and had photos to prove it. No; instead the photos show the players with hand signs indicating partaking of certain illicit substances… Morons. And it’s actually getting worse…
AFL Round Five
Port Adelaide 5.6 (36) absolutely humiliated by St Kilda 15.12 (102)
Port’s second lowest AFL score ever, and in front of a home crowd. They are trying to get more people through the gates to try to stave off a crippling debt, and to do that they put forth this insipid display. Port are better than this; I just don’t think they believe it. And after last week’s defeat of Hawthorn, they should. And if rumours are to be believed, coach Mark Williams (who is out of contract at the end of the year) is being head-hunted by Victorian teams, so he may not want to show all his cards with a team like Port.
Essendon 13.15 (93) just def Collingwood 12.16 (88)
Good game! The ANZAC Day games between these two sides are becoming quite the spectacle and this was no exception. Coming from more than two goals down, Essendon won it with a goal by a rookie on the last kick of the game. This is what Australian Rules Football aspires to be all the time. If you get a chance, find a replay and watch this game.
Hawthorn 11.8 (74) def West Coast 7.14 (56)
Played in Tasmania, Hawthorn’s second home, and they only just managed to get the win. The Hawks are seriously lacking in something this year; this does not seem the same team that won last year’s grand final.
Fremantle 18.13 (121) def Sydney 16.4 (100)
After a week when they were either shown to be racists or druggies, Fremantle feel that they redeemed themselves somewhat with their first win of the season. They didn’t, by the way. And the game itself was a little scrappy, though surprisingly not the worst game of the round this week…
North Melbourne 7.16 (58) lost to Richmond 13.16 (94)
A game of poor kicking for goal (and, yes, the weather was against them) has resulted in Richmond’s first win for the season, meaning no team will go home at the end of the year with nil in the win column. But this game was not something to seek out and watch. And it also was not the worst game of the round.
Geelong 18.18 (126) slaughtered Brisbane 5.3 (33)
The Geelong juggernaut rolls on and on, this time with a near 100-point demolition of strong contenders Brisbane. Gary Ablett Jr has to be favourite for the Brownlow already this year…
Western Bulldogs 13.12 (90) lost to Carlton 21.7 (133)
This places Carlton quite nicely this year already. They are surprising many people with their current streak, and they are playing a good brand of team-based football. Not that the Bulldogs were bad, but they were simply outclassed.
Melbourne 4.10 (34) lost to Adelaide 7.9 (51)
Now, this was the worst game of the round. The Crows ground out a dour, hard-fought win in blustery conditions, but it was not good football.
SANFL Round Five
Central Districts 21.8 (134) killed Glenelg 7.8 (50)
Much like Geelong across the border, Centrals are just powering through everyone, making them all look like also-rans.
Sturt 7.6 (48) just lost to North Adelaide 7.9 (51)
A good game, despite the low score. The conditions were appalling and yet the two teams put on a good game.
Woodville-West Torrens 11.4 (70) hammered South Adelaide 5.11 (41)
And for the second week in a row the Panthers have been humiliated. They are better than this – the first week showed that. But they are playing like my local amateur club!
West Adelaide 12.12 (84) just def Norwood 11.15 (81)
West have now recorded their first win of the season, leaving Port Adelaide Magpies the only winless team in the SANFL. It was a good game and a strong showing from the Bloods who defeated the much more fancied Redlegs.
Bye: Port Adelaide Magpies

Motor Sport
V-8 Supercars
Next race is next weekend. There has been some controversy this week, though, concerning the new qualifying time allowed – twenty minutes – making it something of a lottery, especially if there is a crash and it takes more than the allocated five minutes to clear it up. The problem is, it has not yet made a huge difference to a race, so we will have to wait and see at the end of the year if it has any effect.

Round Four
Pulse 54 lost to Fever 60
Vixens 48 def Steel 31
            Vixens are looking like the real deal this year, but this was a real game of defence, and not the world’s greatest spectacle.
Firebirds 53 def Magic 42
Tactix 48 lost to Thunderbirds 53
Swifts 59 def Mystics 55
            A hard-fought win, just scraping it in.
And so my picks for this year are: top 3 – Swifts, Thunderbirds, Vixens; bottom – Pulse. Yes, I know the Swifts have started poorly and currently sit in the middle of the table, but you can never count them out, especially as the season progresses.

Rugby Union
Super 14 – Round 11
Highlanders 11 def Stormers 18
Force 55 slaughtered Lions 14
Blues 24 lost to Reds 31
This was a fine game. The last gasp heroics to seal the win were the stuff of having a lump in the throat and the whole game was one of those which is a real promotion for the sport.
Hurricanes 56 embarrassed Brumbies 7
This, on the other hand, was not…
Cheetahs 20 def Crusaders 13
Bulls 33 def Chiefs 27
Another really good game. Okay, I’m a sucker for a lot of scoring…

No matches as such, but this week the ITF have declined Australia’s request to postpone their Davis Cup tie against India until after the general elections in that country, or at least move to a neutral venue. This was what the Indian premier League did by moving away from India to South Africa. This is because of a lot of unrest in India in the lead up to these elections, and the security forces are going to be hard pressed as it is without the added burden of looking after a group of international sports people. So Australia have decided to put the safety of their team first and decline to participate, risking a $100,000 fine and one year Davis Cup suspension. But Tennis Australia are standing firm, to their credit. I’m not sure what will happen here. The loss of money to Indian tennis by Australia boycotting the tie would be huge and leave quite a hole in their budget, and the lack of a tie would be an embarrassment to the ITF, especially as it is Australia who is doing the no-show. Maybe a compromise will be reached, especially with Australia bringing in their consular officials, but I would not bet on it. Australia will not back down, and India will not allow the ITF to back down. Everyone loses. Again.
            But Tennis Australia, in my opinion, are doing the right thing.

Rugby League
Round Seven
Brisbane 40 hammered Parramatta 8
South Sydney 32 def Cronulla 26
            This was the ‘good’ Souths…
Sydney Roosters 0 humiliated by St George Illawarra 29
Melbourne 14 drew with Warriors 14
            Melbourne should have won, but could not do it.
North Queensland 26 def Manly 12
            Manly’s fifth loss, in their fifth game without Brett Stewart (the alleged woman-beater, who is now injured) has people asking if they are a one-man team. They, of course, say they are not, but they are going to have to win something convincingly while he’s out with a 3-month knee injury of people are going to believe them.
Canberra 20 lost to Bulldogs 30
Wests Tigers 26 just over Newcastle 24
            Wests’ Benji Marshall made this a one-man game as he was the difference in what was a good game. Newcastle flew out to a 24-10 lead until Benji scored three tries and a conversion to give them the win. Twenty minutes, one man, the game turned around. He is as good as they say.
Penrith 34 def Gold Coast 20

And that’s the view…

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