Underarms, Catamarans and Food Poisonings

Good week to be a Kiwi sports fan!

First New Zealander Scott Dixon wraps up the Indycar Championship on Monday, capping off an incredible season. Then the All Blacks retain the two most important trophies in Southern hemisphere rugby, with a brilliant 28-24 comeback win in Brisbane. Then the Warriors do the unthinkable and topple favourites Melbourne in the NRL 18-15, to go through to play the Roosters at home next weekend. Not a bad week of sports at all.

What was impressive about the Warriors and the All Blacks was how they won. The All Blacks fell behind with the Wallabies scoring on both sides of half time and the Australians could have run away with the game. But the New Zealanders just dug deeper and had more to offer than the Australians, who lost their momentum. The Australians looked like they had no answer, despite knowing what we were going to do! It looked edgy when the Wallabies scored late, but we held on for a deserved win. Despite early hiccups in the competition, the All Blacks were easily the best and most consistent team in the Tri Nations. With so many talented players playing overseas at the moment, the future of New Zealand rugby is looking bright, especially considering some of the skilled players coming up domestically. Just wait till our Europe based players come home!

Level on points at half time, the Warriors always were in with a chance of causing the upset, but the safe money would be with the in form Storm. To use the cliche – someone obviously did not show the Warriors the script. They were staunch on defense repelling wave after wave of Storm attack, whilst at the other end, the Warriors came so close to scoring on several occasions. A drop goal with quarter of an hour to go looked like it would be enough for Melbourne to be victorious until an awesome break saw Michael Witt score in the 78 minute. First time ever that eighth place has beaten first in the NRL finals. Bring on the Roosters!

Despite what some may say, New Zealanders don’t choke on the big occasions, in these cases they knuckled down. Sure we might fall at the last hurdle sometimes, but that’s sports, you can’t win them all. But when you play with the determination and passion that both teams showed this weekend, you give yourself a good chance of coming away on top.


Now that’s what I’m talking about!

After the disappointment of two consecutive losses, All Black fans will have enjoyed last night’s 29-point thrashing of the Wallabies even more. This time it was the Aussies who looked impotent, with no answer to New Zealand’s domination in all areas of the game. The return of Ritchie McCaw was vital, but all the players showed an increased urgency, particularly around the tackle. Tactically New Zealand was superior, and when the Wallabies returned after halftime following a poor first half, they had no idea how to get back into the game. Graham Henry has had a hard time recently, but this performance reflects very well on him. As the game came to an end you could see what it meant to him. Continue reading

Sonny Bill on the run… this time not on the field

Sonny Bill Williams controversial departure from the Bulldogs for a $3million contract with Tana Umanga-coached French rugby side Toulon has provided the sport with yet another controversy. I am not by any means an expert on rugby league (but am keen to get someone who is to contribute to this blog), but his departure will leave a big hole in the sport and does nothing to improve the game’s appeal. The NRL have lost a crowd pleasing fan favourite and the New Zealand Kiwis have lost a future star. League followers must be now used to having the sports biggest stars leave the code for union, with the Wallabies the greatest benefactors of the switches. And as he is now a rugby player, he joins along list of New Zealand rugby players moving to Europe chasing the big dollars. So his move is nothing new in that respect. It is the way he is has left that really irritates those who love the game. Continue reading

Finally it’s here! Deans v Henry!

To be honest I don’t really care who coaches Australia. I will care if he turns them around and makes them competitive in 2011, but I think it takes more than a coach to make a team great. A coach can only work with what he’s got, and Deans only has so much to work with at the moment. There are a lot of gaps in the Aussie team, particularly up front and not as much depth as they would like. Historically New Zealand have had incredibly depth, but are also tested at the moment, with so many great players gone overseas. Thankfully this match we will have Williams and Thorne back as locking partners which, especially as McCaw looks as though he won’t be back, gives us some of the experience we missed against South Africa in Dunedin.

So with Australia seeing off the Boks last week, what can we expect in Sydney on Saturday? Continue reading

Green or Gold?

I can’t pick it to be honest. Although the Springboks managed a remarkable win against the All Blacks in Dunedin, you can never write off the Wallabies, especially at home. Rarely has an encounter between Australia and South Africa been so intriguing for All Black fans. South Africa come off their surprise win, and it will be interesting to see if they can back up last week’s effort in Australia. The Wallabies are of course coached by New Zealander Robbie Deans, so All Black fans will be keen to see what we really missed out on. Australia showed glimpses of class against France and Ireland, although neither team was really impressive opposition, and will need to step up big time against a confident Springbok team keen to back up last weeks solid performance against a severely understrength New Zealand side.

If the Boks win, the Tri Nations is as good as wrapped up, unless the All Blacks can pull off a seemingly miraculous win in South Africa, after they’ve won in Australia. They are always bonus points too, I suppose (when was the last time a team got one for four tries?!). Continue reading

It looked like it was in the bag until…

Januarie breaks through the All Black defence, chips ahead, recollects the ball and then bam! Springbok try. Before hand I was feeling confident, five points ahead, and Victor Matfield in the bin for a high tackle. Only five or so minutes to go, we should hold out. Instead, a last minute drop goal attempt from Dan Carter was charged down and the All Blacks lost to South Africa at home for the first time in 10m years and the first time ever at Carisbrook. Continue reading

Apologise now or go to your room!

Not content with telling a current All Black prop how to scrum, Springbok coach Peter De Villiers and the South African Rugby Board are demanding an apology from a former All Black prop for labelling the new coach a “puppet”. A veteran of 60 tests, Craig Dowd questioned the abilities of De Villiers telling Newstalk ZB, “if De Villiers knows anything about rugby, he (Dowd) is yet to see it”. He also said “while the Springboks have some good staff, De Villiers is merely a puppet”. Dowd is not the only one question the quality of the Boks coach, English writer Peter Bills considers the man “naïve” and guilty of making poor squad selections. De Villiers harping on hypocritically about cheating underlines the extent of which the man is out of his depth, as was stand in coach for England Rob Andrew when his team toured last month. Although probably intended to distract New Zealand, the tactic may well be distracting the Bok’s staff. Continue reading