THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #98 – Israel Folau!

Not as many scores as normal as less than normal happened this past week… oh, except we had a female tennis player do something decent and we have a rugby player do something intelligent. No, seriously. It’s the view!

Australian Rules Football
AFL Round 11
Richmond 8.11 (59) def by St Kilda 14.13 (97)
            Richmond came so close to doing it, to toppling one of the AFL’s current powerhouses… but they couldn’t. However, their effort in this match was such that they might actually go into this week’s match against the West Coast as favourites.
Carlton 15.11 (101) def Melbourne 9.6 (60)
            Carlton ran all over the top of the hapless Demons… I think my attempt at the most clichéd sporting sentence was more interesting than the game… So that should give you an idea how crap this game was.
Adelaide 16.9 (105) def Fremantle 12.10 (82)
            I’m going to call this an upset… but Adelaide were running on pure emotion. With 300+ game veteran Tyson Edwards leaving the club, being denied a farewell match, then the club deciding he needed one – and this was it – the rollercoaster ride came to a head with a strong, attacking win. If they had played this way all year they would be on top of the table, not making up numbers in the bottom half.
North Melbourne 12.18 (90) def Brisbane 13.11 (89)
            North Melbourne seem to have struck a patch of form this week, as Brisbane did not play badly. The one point win should have been greater but inaccuracy in front of goal cost them.
West Coast 14.14 (98) def by Geelong 18.14 (122)
            Damn close up till three quarter time, and then the Cats went away with it. It almost seems like they are doing this a lot lately, and maybe it is being done deliberately. They have an aging list, it could be to save their legs for finals action come September. Whatever it is, they’re winning, and doing it relatively easily.
Sydney 12.17 (89) def Essendon 12.8 (80)
            Sydney back in the winner’s circle after a tense battle with Essendon. The lead changed over and over, but the Swans fought hard and eked out the win. Good game.
Hawthorn 10/14 (74) def Port Adelaide 8.15 (63)
            Hawthorn led by 33, Port then led by 1 and the Hawks ended up winning by 11. It was a back and forth game, and was surprisingly good, but Port look like they blew their load in the first two months of the season.
Collingwood 17.11 (113) def Western Bulldogs 16.7 (103)
            The Bulldogs almost snatched it with a great come back, but they just could not overcome the deficit.
SANFL Round 11
North Adelaide 15.10 (100) def South Adelaide 13.9 (87)
            Yet again, one lousy quarter – this time the second – cost South. If they can play four solid quarters, they will start to actually win… if they remember how.
Norwood 9.15 (69) def Central Districts 9.12 (66)
            It’s now official – this Norwood have to be ring ins. Defeating Centrals? Wow! With the lead never going above two goals for either team, it was a great match, certainly better than some of the AFL matches I’ve seen lately. Great advert for the local league.
Port Adelaide 13.8 (86) def by Woodville-West Torrens 15.10 (100)
            The Eagles played themselves back into a bit of form at the expense of the Magpies. Not a good game, but it did what the Eagles needed – they won.
Bye: West Adelaide, Sturt, Glenelg

ANZ Championships – Round 12
Mystics 62 def Fever 53
            For the first three quarters, this game could have gone either way, but the Mystics ran away with it in the last to have a convincing win.
Firebirds 55 def Pulse 45
            The Pulse got away to a flying first quarter, then let the Firebirds back in and that was all she wrote.
Vixens 43 def by Thunderbirds 54
            Sixth straight loss for the Vixens and it would seem their hopes of defending their 2009 title are now gone. The Thunderbirds played well enough to win, but, it should be pointed out, with a minimum of home grown talent yet again…
Steel 53 def Tactix 39
            Tactix lost it in the 2nd and 3rd quarters after a strong opener.
Swifts 60 def WBOP Magic 43
            And the Swifts show rolls on relentlessly, completely outplaying Magic for the entire game.

Rugby League
NRL Round 13
Parramatta 24 def Melbourne 10
            This was dubbed the rematch that never was, a replay of last season’s grand final which the Storm won and was subsequently stripped of, but which was not awarded to Parramatta. However, things were played civilly… until the second half when things turned nasty. A brawl, reports, nastiness… in front a crowd smaller than the one which watched the Vixens/Thunderbirds netball match.
Canterbury-Bankstown 12 def by Wests Tigers 19
            The conditions made this more like a game of mud wrestling than rugby. But the Bulldogs struggled and could not stop their losing ways.
Penrith 28 def Newcastle 10
            Some hard hitting and bone jarring tackles lifted this from the mundane to the moderately exciting.
Sydney Roosters 18 def by Cronulla 42
            The Sharks have been criticised for the way they’ve been attacking recently. Well, 7 tries to 3 should silence some critics as the Roosters felt the brunt of their wrath.
Warriors 20 def by St George Illawarra 22
            Wet, windy, injuries piling up… this was not a pretty game and St George were lucky to come away with a win.
Canberra 28 def Gold Coast 24
            At one point Canberra were 26-6 up. But Gold Coast came back strong and hard to almost snatch victory. Good second half.
Manly 6 def by Brisbane 22
            This game shows just how good a player Folau is (see below) (really). He put on something of a one-man show for the Broncos, with 2 tries and an awesome AFL-style mark. He is going to be a big loss for the entire sport.
South Sydney 32 def North Queensland 4
            A glorified training run for the Rabbitohs as they dominated from woah to go.
Israel Folau
I wasn’t sure whether to put this here or in the AFL section, but because of the immediate impact, here it shall stay.
            Now, for most of the world, they probably think this is some new Middle Eastern crisis. But, no – it’s a man.
            At age 16 Israel was dominating the under-19s in Queensland rugby league. He became the hottest property in the game for a long time. He won a premiership with the Melbourne Storm (which may or may not still be a premiership… what day of the week is it?). And aged still in his early 20s, he was considered already one of the greats of the modern game with only more greatness to come.
            All well and good – the guy is a freak of nature, a huge, agile, strong man who can run like the clappers and hit like runaway train. One of the best league players of a generation.
            Get the idea?
            He’s decided to take the million dollars plus a year on offer and jump to the Australian Football League to play Australian rules for the new Greater Western Sydney franchise.
            He is jumping codes.
            He is thinking about his long-term career, and this is a solid, well-considered choice.
            For an athlete of his undoubted ability to do this is almost unheard of. Think David Beckham taking up basketball, or Brett Favre deciding to try the marathon, or Michael Jordan going to baseball… successfully. Those in the lower ends or middle sections of the food chain, sure, but a star? Wow!
            Now, there are negatives on both sides. From the rugby point of view, he has jumped for the cash, leaving them without one of their more bankable stars. For the AFL how can some blow-in come and command such a high pay packet when those who have been working hard at this level for ten years earn a quarter of it?
            But the positives for the AFL are the name value, the drawing power and the fact people are already talking about a team that won’t hit the field for another season and a half.
            For the NRL, the only positive is it may finally get them seriously looking at their salary cap issues that have seen Melbourne decimated and Folau really given no option but to look after his future welfare.
            Oh, and despite his efforts on the weekend, he looks set to be dropped from the Queensland state of origin team for game 2. So rugby have already decided he be punished. (Although it does appear a group of quite politically powerful players are lobbying for that decision to be overturned.)
            Like that’s going to help their cause.
            Now, the media in all of this.
            Yes, this is a huge story in this country. But if it wasn’t for Sam Stosur in the tennis, it would have been the ONLY story. Not just sport, but the only story in the news this week, full stop. This came out on Tuesday; I am writing this on Sunday and it was still one of the main stories people were talking about on TV and radio.
            So here’s my 2 cents – good on him for looking after himself and taking on quite the challenge of changing codes. Well done AFL in this coup (hot on the heels of Karmichael Hunt’s similar defection to the new Gold Coast team). And wake up, NRL, or else this sort of thing – from the AFL, from overseas league clubs – is going to happen again and again.

Rugby Union
International – Test
Australia 49 def Fiji 3
            Test season is now upon us… and don’t scores like this make the game seem exciting? Australia claimed they went in ‘rusty’, and this game was a good chance for them to blow off their cobwebs, but against Fiji it is hard to gauge just how well they are going to do against the rest of the test playing nations.

French Open – Women’s Final
Francesca Schiavone def Samantha Stosur 6-4, 7-6 (7-2)
Sam Stosur said she was simply outplayed in what was essentially an upset loss, that she played well and she’s got confidence from the fortnight.
            Not from what I saw.
            There were many unforced errors and she looked like she was nervous. She played so well to defeat Henin and Williams, but once she was out on the biog stage in the final as favourite, she froze. Well, it was her first time, and with those big scalps under her belt, she should learn from this.
            But you do know what this means, right? Australia’s women tennis players are no longer the most overrated sports people in the country! First Webber wins, then Stosur does well! Damn, I’ll gave to find some one else to whinge on…

Interesting week, if nothing else.
            And that’s the View – June 1 through 7.

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