THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #93 – back to football

Life slowly returns to normal in the sporting world down here, even though the upsets continue in the football and things are getting tight in the V-8s. Oh, and yet another World Cup in cricket is beginning. Plus the Melbourne Storm thing is simmering quietly in the background, with players and points being argued non-stop, but all behind closed doors. Basically, what everyone knows for sure is that the Storm’s sanctions will stand, the players will most likely get paid this year and the city of Melbourne has got behind them in unprecedented numbers. Yes, the team cheated badly and got caught, so Melbourne thinks they’re heroes. This is the same state that puts a killer like Ned Kelly on a pedestal and thinks recently bashed to death mobster (alleged) Carl Williams was a champion bloke. Part of it is to stick it up Sydney, as Melbourne’s inferiority complex when it comes to Australia’s largest city is pitiful, and part of it is the fact that Melbourne just can’t get over their convict heritage. And the final part is the fact they cannot get over the fact that their city was founded by a man named Batman (seriously – John Batman founded Melbourne… check it out!)
            Poor Melbourne… Sporting capital of Australia being over-run by Sydney. Okay, sure, so Adelaide – my home town – has the same sort of complex when it comes to Melbourne, but ours is more than abated by the fact we do festivals, wine and the arts better. Oh, that and the fact in Adelaide you can’t see what you’re breathing.
            Enough Melbourne bashing? Yes? Good. But I’ll add one last thing – Melbourne is where Collingwood is. I don’t need to say anything more than that.

Australian Rules Football
AFL Round 6
            While not as bad as last week, the upsets continue. Picking the AFL is getting so that if you get 4 right in a week you’re a genius. And that is the sign of a good, close season… At least, that’s what we all tell ourselves.
Western Bulldogs 6.10 (46) def by St Kilda 7.7 (49)
            What a game! Ugly as sin, but the closeness was amazing, and St Kilda’s last gasp win seemed to come out of nowhere, considering the Bulldogs did look the better team all night. But after the past few weeks, who would have picked the Saints over the Doggies?
North Melbourne 15.14 (104) def Melbourne 12.6 (78)
            And another result no-one would have picked based on the past few weeks. Melbourne slipped back into some bad old habits while the Kangaroos looked sharp and had much more of the ball.
Adelaide 10.14 (74) def by Port Adelaide 14.13 (97)
            Up till three quarter time this was anybody’s game and a damn fine one, belying their positions on the ladder. It was that close. But the Crows seemed to run out of legs in the last quarter and Port sped away from them, leaving Adelaide winless at the bottom of the ladder and Port Adelaide sitting pretty. No-one – and I mean no-one – would have picked that at the start of the season.
Essendon 15.16 (106) def Hawthorn 9.9 (63)
            Hawthorn were outclassed in every area in this game as the Bombers rana way with it with ease. For a team many had pegged as a potential serious finals contender, Hawthorn are not showing a lot this year.
Sydney 16.11 (107) def Brisbane 13.9 (87)
            And the surprise leader of the competition after 6 rounds is Sydney, a team most had not even making the final 8. They played well, and while Brisbane tried hard, they just could not match the Swans.
Geelong 24.17 (161) slaughtered Richmond 7.11 (53)
            And leave it to Richmond to live down to all expectations, allowing Geelong to play themselves back into form with a thumping 100+ point margin. Only their ineptitude is keeping Adelaide from their first wooden spoon in the club’s history.
Carlton 16.6 (102) def by Collingwood 24.11 (155)
            Collingwood were just too strong for the Blues, who were game but could not match them. Shame.
West Coast 10.13 (73) def by Fremantle 17.9 (111)
            While this result was what was expected based on recent results, the fact is Fremantle are in the top 4 and actually look like making an impact this year. The perennial everyone’s second favourite team might actually get somewhere.
SANFL Round 6
Norwood 16.12 (108) def Sturt 4.5 (29)
            The team only just off the bottom of the ladder defeated the team flying in recent weeks? And not just defeated but embarrassed, restricting them to just 4 goals. (Checks results again.) Nope, got them in the right order. Wow. Another upset, this one of monumental proportions.
Port Adelaide 13.15 (93) def South Adelaide 11.5 (71)
            And Port come through for their first win of the season, though it was a scrappy, ugly game. South seemed to slip into its bad habits, so let’s hope this was just a one-week aberration and not a sign of something more long term.
North Adelaide 5.8 (38) def by Central Districts 17.11 (113)
            Well Centrals put North in their place, didn’t they? Last week’s loss seemed to be just the wake-up call the Bulldogs needed. This does not bode well for the rest of the teams.
Woodville-West Torrens 14.12 (96) def West Adelaide 12.6 (78)
            They’re creeping up slowly, but the Eagles might be the sleeper team this year as they sit, virtually ignored, atop the SANFL ladder. This was a hard win for them, but they did enough to pull it out and keep themselves sitting pretty.
Bye: Glenelg

Twenty20 World Cup

The world Cup is being held in the West Indies where the West Indian islands are all competing as individual nations/ teams and not as the one conglomeration known as the West Indies. While this increases the number of teams in the competition substantially, it does somewhat dilute the West Indian talent pool.
Australia’s Warm-Up Matches
Australia v Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe 7/173 (20 overs); Australia 7/172 (20 overs) – Zimbabwe won by 1 run
            Yes, Australia lost their opening warm-up match to Zimbabwe, a team so low on the international cricket totem pole they are only allowed to keep their test status because Bangladesh gets to keep theirs due to the subcontinent voting bloc. Good way for the Aussies to start their campaign!
Windward Islands v Australia
Australia 8/189 (20 overs); Windward Islands 88 (20 overs) – Australia won by 101 runs
            And Australia’s heavy warm-up schedule sees them completely hammer one of the lesser West Indian Islands. Oh, goody! This competition should be a barrel of laughs for the Australians!
World Cup
1st Match, Group B: New Zealand v Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka 6/135 (20 overs); New Zealand 8/139 (19.5 overs) – New Zealand won by 2 wickets
            One ball remaining! This was a good opening match for the tournament with two strong teams in this format battling it out. However, Sri Lanka are now in trouble with one of the world’s premier bowlers, Muttiah Muralitharan, ruled out of the tournament with a groin injury.
2nd Match, Group D: West Indies v Ireland
West Indies 9/138 (20 overs); Ireland 68 (16.4 overs) – West Indies won by 70 runs
            Okay, I completely misunderstood. The West Indies were just playing separately during the warm-up match phase. My bad. As it was, that powerhouse of world cricket that is Ireland looked like they wanted to be anywhere else than facing the fast bowlers of the West Indian team. And who could blame them? There to make up the numbers and it showed.
3rd Match, Group C: Afghanistan v India
Afghanistan 8/115(20 overs); India 3/116 (14.5 overs) – India won by 7 wickets
            My God! After the Taliban and American bombing and the Coalition of the Willing… haven’t the Afghanis suffered enough? Obviously not, because they are sent across here to play in a cricket tournament they have no hope of winning. Because if there’s something that’s going to unite the country, it’s watching grown men in their pyjamas hitting a ball with bits of wood in a losing team.
4th Match, Group A: Bangladesh v Pakistan
Pakistan 3/172 (20 overs); Bangladesh 7/151 (20 overs) – Pakistan won by 21 runs
            The only surprise in this game is the fact Pakistan didn’t implode. Yet. But wait. It’ll be the most interesting thing about this ADD cricket tournament. At least Bangladesh made their full twenty overs and were not totally embarrassed by the loss.
5th Match, Group C: India v South Africa
India 5/186 (20 overs); South Africa 5/172 (20 overs) – India won by 14 runs
            Tight game but India’s rather large total just could not be overcome. Both these sides should figure prominently at the pointy end of the competition, provided this result does not lead to another celebrated South African brain fart.
6th Match, Group A: Australia v Pakistan
Australia 191 (20 overs); Pakistan 157 (20 overs) – Australia won by 34 runs
            What a score by Australia! And this even with the loss of 5 wickets in the last over (yes, 5 wickets in 6 balls… not a good look), the score was huge and too great for Pakistan to overcome.

Rugby League
NRL – Round 8
Parramatta 26 def Canterbury-Bankstown 10
            The most interesting thing about this game was the fight in the stands amongst the spectators, which saw seven people arrested and 15 ejected. It’s not on the level of soccer violence, but it just goes to show what I’ve been saying for 20 years – you want to get rid of violence amongst the spectators, then make what happens ion the field interesting. They can’t live vicariously through boring shit.
Brisbane 22 def by Newcastle 30
            An upset, this one. But with Brisbane’s star player Israel Folau not signing a new contract beyond this year and being linked to both the AFL and super-14 union competitions, as well as other NRL teams, maybe the distraction was too much? Who knows… they lost and that’s all people are going to remember at the end of the year.
Warriors 16 def by Canberra 23
            Just another game, notable only for the fact that Canberra didn’t fade out in the second half this time…
Gold Coast 38 def Penrith 24
            A good match, this one, high-scoring and with some tough, hard tackling. Catch it in replay if you can.
North Queensland 6 def by Melbourne 34
            Melbourne continue to win for nothing. But this game showed why Melbourne were not booted from the competition – with international games coming up a large proportion of the team is going to come from the Storm. The NRL – we’ll punish you, but just enough to make us look good.
St George Illawarra 38 def Cronulla 0
            This is why St George sit atop the NRL ladder and Cronulla… don’t. They were outclassed and it was almost embarrassing to watch at times.
Wests Tigers 8 def by Sydney Roosters 12
            Apparently the coach of Sydney gave such an awe-inspiring tirade of abuse against his players at half time they came back and won despite being the worse team on the paddock. Poor Wests. Beaten by abuse.
South Sydney 22 def by Manly 30
            Souths came from behind and almost snatched victory, but Manly just held on. South Sydney are looking so much better this year, but Manly are third on the ladder for a reason…

Rugby Union
Super 14 Round 12
Highlanders 26 def Waratahs 10
Stormers 42 def Crusaders 14
Hurricanes 33 def Chiefs 27
Brumbies 32 def Reds 12
Cheetahs 36 just def Blues 32
Lions 12 def by Force 33
            Only home team to lose this week… Then Lions are really struggling this year with a 0-11 record.
Bulls 27 def Sharks 19

ANZ Championships – Round 7
Tactix 38 def by Steel 66
            The Tactix kept in touch… for the first quarter. Then it was all the Steel as they dominated in a very one-sided affair.
Swifts 56 def Vixens 42
            The Swifts stay on top – unbeaten – while inflicting the second loss on last year’s champions. And, really, they never looked headed, even if they lost concentration in the last quarter.
WBOP Magic 49 def Mystics 46
            Close game that could have gone either way, but the Magic held on to score an important win.
Firebirds 63 def Fever 57
            Another close game. But this result followed from last week, so no upset here, just a good close game of netball.
Bye: Pulse; Thunderbirds

V-8 Supercars
Ipswich 300

Race 9
1st James Courtney (Falcon FG)
2nd Craig Lowndes (Commodore VE)
3rd Shane van Gisbergen (Falcon FG)
4th Jamie Whincup (Commodore VE)
5th Garth Tander (Commodore VE)
Race 10
1st James Courtney (Falcon FG)
2nd Garth Tander (Commodore VE)
3rd Shane van Gisbergen (Falcon FG)
4th Russell Ingall )Commodore VE)
5th Craig Lowndes (Commodore VE)
            And with these races in the bag, James Courtney has almost caught leader Jamie Whincup in the overall standings, with Shane van Gisbergen, Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes also starting to breathe down their necks. What was looking like a one-horse race is now developing into the sort of competition everyone was hoping for.
            But at the race, in one of the support events, a Mini Cooper flipped into the crowd. While no-one died, several were injured, two seriously enough to be taken to hospital…

Asian Champions League
Seongnam Ilhwa 3 def Melbourne Victory 2
            And Melbourne bow out of the ACL with one win. Now Australia’s hopes rest with Adelaide… Doesn’t sound good, does it?
Adelaide United 0 def by Shandong Luneng 1
            Despite the loss, other results meant Adelaide topped their group and so get a home final in the group of 16 section of the tournament. This would normally be an advantage but Adelaide’s home form has been less than stellar as they seem to freeze when in front of their own supporters. Let’s see if they can keep their minds in gear this time round.

Another week over and done with. Now at this time last year I put in the winners of the Logie Awards – Australia’s television awards and the only chance our actors get to frock it up. The feedback I received was mixed, but seemed to sit on – “This is sport. We don’t mind the odd Australian film or Australian album review, but the Logies? No way!” So unless some-one wants a list of the winners from a popularity contest so dull it makes the Emmys look like the Superbowl, this is my only word on them. And in that vein, join me again next week when I look at more football, more cricket… and just more sport.

The View – Apr 27 through May 3.

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