The View From Down Here #45

Let’s start the same as we have for the past month, shall we?
            Cronulla’s Reni Maitua has tested positive to a banned substance. Yes, he has received an indefinite suspension, but the fact of the matter is yet another rugby league player has been caught being a dickhead. Maybe Cronulla are to blame a bit here as well, considering they picked him up after he had been sacked by the Bulldogs because off the field he was proving to be something of a handful (read: wanker).
            It just doesn’t stop, does it?
            Oh well, there are other things happening in the world beside rugby league players crapping in their own nests.

Cricket
The mind games have already started between Australia and England ahead of the upcoming Ashes series. England claim that Australia are too young and inexperienced; Australia are saying England are fragile after a fair bit of off-field turmoil earlier this year, with England captain Andrew Strauss a particular target. And with Australians getting valuable practice in the English counties, some are saying it is giving the Aussies an unfair advantage.
            I can’t pick a winner this year. But with Ponting remaining Australian captain and England being on home soil, I would not mind betting on an England victory, or a drawn series. Could be very interesting.
Indian Premier League (Twenty20)
Final

Deccan Chargers 6/143; Royal Challengers Bangalore 9/137 – Deccan won by 6 runs
            After breaking the run scoring record in the semi-final (85 off 36 balls), Australia’s retired wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist led his side to victory in the IPL. It was a close match until Andrew Symonds for Deccan managed 2 wickets in 2 balls, putting Bangalore on the back foot, and giving his side the win. A close game, a good game… but it really does not mean much in the grand scheme of things except for a handy payday and some match practice for the upcoming Twenty20 world cup…

Australian Rules Football
AFL Round Nine
This is the “Indigenous Round”, where Australian football pays tribute to the myriad of awesome indigenous players across the nation. In Adelaide it was especially poignant as Andrew McLeod broke the club’s games record (313 games and counting) this round. The idea of this round is a good one, as there are some thoughts that Tom Wills took some aspects of an indigenous game when he developed the sport we now know as Australian Rules Football.
Geelong 17.14 (116) just def Western Bulldogs 17.12 (114)
            This was close, with the Bulldogs coming from 22 points down to almost steal the win. The Bulldogs are a genuine contender again, and can push any team on their day. This also showed a few cracks in the Geelong make-up, particularly some of their skills under pressure in the last quarter. But don’t get me wrong – this was a tough game and a good game and while Geelong may have been a lucky (a missed goal after the siren could have stolen it for the Bulldogs) they still deserved to win.
North Melbourne 14.14 (98) def Fremantle 12.13 (85)
            This game was just there. Neither team is showing much this year, and if they make the finals it will be to make up numbers, that’s all.
Adelaide 15.14 (104) def Carlton 8.12 (60)
            This was a good win for the Crows, their first home win for the year. They needed this as much as Carlton did not. The first half was especially telling, with Carlton scoring five points and no goals. While Carlton won the thirds quarter, the Crows with-held the onslaught to come back in the last and take a strong win.
West Coast 9.12 (66) def by Collingwood 12.16 (88)
            Something of an upset, especially with the way Collingwood have been playing lately. Not a pretty game, but Collingwood did enough to win, and it almost seemed at times West Coast were not even trying. Disappointing game.
Richmond 12.13 (85) def by Essendon 19.11 (125)
            After the week Richmond have had, the result was not surprising. To summarise: It appears several players – including the captain – asked the coach to resign after he verbally sprayed a certain footballer after the previous weekend’s loss. All deny this, but the story won’t go away. There were crisis meetings and talks. At one point ,it was said the board fired the coach – terry Wallace – and then reneged. Who knows what’s going on? No-one’s talking and those who are, are contradicting one another. The Tigers are in disarray; is it any wonder the underperforming Bombers made them look even more second-rate than usual?
Sydney 18.15 (123) hammered Port Adelaide 10.8 (68)
            The eight goal to one first quarter was what really sealed it for the Swans; although Port tried after this they were never really in the hunt again. This is what is so frustrating about both these teams. On their day, they play great football; off, they are really off.
St. Kilda 14.13 (97) def Brisbane 13.3 (81)
            Don’t let the 16-point margin fool you – the Saints had to work for this one and work damn hard. This week has shown that while St Kilda and Geelong are unbeaten, they are not unbeatable (to semi-quote a Victorian newspaper headline). Brisbane did well and it was only the last quarter that let them down.
Hawthorn 17.12 (114) def Melbourne 13.14 (92)
            Some have said this is Hawthorn coming back this year. But, look, they never got out of second gear, and Melbourne are not exactly a challenging team this year. But Hawthorn definitely looked better than they have in recent outings.
SANFL
There was no SANFL this week as the leagues from South Australia (SANFL) and Western Australia (WAFL) had their annual match. And it was a great game. The skill level was incredible and the result was amazing. The only thing wrong was the pathetically small crowd who gathered for the contest in Perth. Considering how much better it was than the AFL game being played at the same time, people made the wrong call there.
Western Australia 12.10 (82) just def South Australia 12.9 (81)
            Yep, a one-point ball game. It’s Western Australia’s first win for a long time, and you can just feel that they are going to let the South Australians know it!

Netball
Round Eight
Tactix 49 def Pulse 46
            Good game to start the round. Fast moving as well. Love netball!
Thunderbirds 51 just over Firebirds 50
            A goal on the siren gave Adelaide the win. This was a tense, good game of netball, and had me on the edge of my seat watching the replay even though I already knew the result. If the T-birds can do this at the business end of the season – come up when the chips are down and hold on – then they will be the biggest threat to the Vixens this year.
Steel 39 lost to Magic 48
            A match that never really got going.
Vixens 65 def Swifts 63
            The Vixens were pushed by last year’s premiers and pushed hard. This is the season turning point for the Swifts despite the loss – they are either going to collapse into a heap after trying so hard and losing, or they are going to realise they can match it with anyone and gain confidence from the win. The next few weeks will be interesting to watch.
Bye: Fever, Mystics

Rugby Union
The union has hit the semi-final stage. It has been quite the underwhelming season this year. I feel, personally, that there have been too many teams; going to 14 from 12 has not been a good move. It has been had to get behind the teams when they travel halfway around the world to play as it is, let alone when they get lost in the shuffle. Oh well, at least the 2 matches this weekend were good ones.
Super 14 – Semi-finals
Chiefs 14 def Hurricanes 10
Bulls 36 def Crusaders 23
            Don’t let the score fool you; this was a closer game than it appears. A good one, too, and the Bulls could do it, I reckon.

Rugby League
Round Eleven
Parramatta 16 drew with South Sydney 16
            Some controversy at the end with some time issues from the ref, but this was a good result for Souths, not so good for Parramatta.
Wests Tigers 18 def by Brisbane 20
            Wests are in trouble. One of their spectators dive tackled the referee straight after the match after, allegedly, jumping the fence and waiting on the sidelines for him. The man will be banned for life, and Wests will be fined, but how can a professional club allow security become so lax as to allow this to happen in the first place? Oh, that’s right, it’s rugby league. With form like this, the guy will probably front for Manly in a month’s time…
Cronulla 4 lost to St George Illawarra 26
            Just makes their bad week all the worse…
Penrith 48 hammered Sydney Roosters 6
Bulldogs 26 def Melbourne 10
            The Storm do not look like last year’s grand finalist while the Bulldogs are definitely contenders this year.
Canberra 38 defeated Warriors 12
Gold Coast 18 just over Manly 17
            Another controversy with the umpiring, as a tackle was awarded dubiously allowing the free kick to Gold Coast to win. The referee made a mistake but you could only tell looking in slow motion. In regular speed (which the commentators do not have the balls to say) he was right. And if Manly’s loss came down to that mistake, what about the rest of the game? But it was Manly losing, so who cares?
North Queensland 36 Newcastle 10
Conspiracy Theory:
            You may have noticed a few more referee mistakes cropping up of late, especially in the dying moments of games. Well, here’s my theory: the NRL wants this to happen. They need this to happen. Why? Because this is distracting the world from the off-field indiscretions of their overpaid prima donnas, and putting the focus back on the game itself. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Are they encouraging the officials to make calls based purely on their instinct, no matter what? Or are they actively pursuing this line? It’s just a conspiracy theory, but one I personally feel needs more looking into…

A shorter view this week, but that’s okay. Watch some netball, enjoy some state vs state Aussie Rules and get into the Super 14 finals. I’m sure there’s something on YouTube by now. And, for laughs, read about how rugby league are trying to make everything that’s happened this year seem positive!

 

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