Welcome back folks. Today we bring to you some observations from New Zealand and Australian Affairs Reporter Wallace B. Jack on the early goings on in Super Rugby, with particular focus on the Chiefs. Star Reporter Barry Munta takes a look at Liverpool’s hammering of Man U last night, and the Supercoach opines on the Cricket World Cup format. But first, here’s Wallace.
Some Super, some not
Yeah, g’day. I was in Hamiltron on Friday night to see the Chiefs take on the new Melbourne franchise, the Rebels. A couple of things from the game stood out to me and the 38 other people at the ground:
-Tana still has it. His defence was bloody magnificent at times; I can recall at least two occasions where he put in a huge hit that resulted in a turnover. And while his pace may be down, he shows that nous that is a trademark of a truly great player by adapting his game to the constraints of his older body. Rather than try to step and fend his way through opposition tacklers as he did in his heyday, he now concentrates more on simple hit-ups and distribution. Certainly Masaga scored two brilliant tries that required a lot of individual marvelousness, but the sharper eyed among ya out there will have noted that well timed passes from Tana set him away on both occasions. The Hurricanes, having played just once so far this season, better be wary when Tana returns to the Stadium this weekend.
- regarding Stephen Donald: using the phrase ‘tactical kicking’ is like the pairing of the words ‘army’ and ‘intelligence’, or ‘smart’ and ‘phone’. If something happens to Dan Carter during the World Cup, his aimless punting could easily cost the All Blacks dearly. Anyone remember Hong Kong last year?
- congrats to the Highlanders; rolling the Bulls in Saffaland is an epic achievement. I hope that they enjoy this season before the traditional off-season pillaging of their squad by the Crusaders, which seems to be completely sanctioned by the NZRU.
- and on the subject of Benji Marshall, we at the Comments team firmly stand behind him. For funks sake, he had just come from a black-tie event that had raised around $250,000 for his child cancer charity, was repeatedly racially abused, and then the low-life who did it ran to the press. Scum. Should he have punched him? No. Well, maybe not. Well… Anyway, if Benji gets prosecuted, I hope the See You Next Tuesday who taunted him also gets done for some kind of racial vilification. Fair’s fair.
-Wallace B. Jack
Thanks for that Wall, and yes, he does speak for The Supercoach, and the rest of the Comments team as regards Benji.
Next, Star Reporter Barry Munta tunneled into Anfield Stadium last night and had this to say about the Liverpool-Man U clash.
Thanks goodness for cellular technology, as I am submitting this report from one of the local scouser lock-ups where I have been unfairly incarcerated for ‘repeated and abusive taunting of a Knight of the Realm’. That’s lawyer-speak for standing behind Alex Ferguson for 90 minutes and questioning certain aspects of his heritage in the hopes that his nose would turn so purple he would do a Violet Beauregarde and actually turn into a giant blueberry. In between times I took in the action on the pitch, which was pretty dang entertaining too. It’s not gonna be often that a player scores a hat-trick and doesn’t deserve Man of the Match, but that was definitely the case yesterday, with Luis Suarez stealing the show from goal scorer Durk Kuyt.
Suarez, a massively expensive signing from Ajax where he was both a goal scoring machine and shoulder gnawing psychopath, is best known for his antics at the World Cup last year playing for Uruguay. In the dying seconds of extra-time in the Quarter Final against Ghana- the last African team remaining in the first African World Cup- he used his hand to stop a goal bound shot that would have sent Ghana through to the Semis. He was caught, sent off, and Ghana had a penalty to win the match with the last kick of the game. However, Gyan bottled it, the Ghanaians crumbled in the Penalty Shootout that immediately followed, and Suarez became a villain, despite receiving the appropriate punishment.
All that aside, he showed where his real genius lies yesterday, jinking and dinking his way around the Man U defence who were made to look like the muppets that they are. He beat four players in the space of five congested meters to set up the first, supplied the cross that Nani- arguably the most despised player in England now that his compatriot Ronaldo has gone- headered hilariously and inexplicably back across the box for Kuyt to score, and generally made a total nuisance of himself. Fantastic.
The game got a bit tasty at times, and both Carragher and de Silva should have been sent off before half time. Nonetheless, Liverpool prevailed, their resurgence under Dogleash seems to be genuine, and most importantly, they blew the title race back open again. By which I mean that if Arsenal stop playing so poorly at home, they may still claw Man U back.
All in all it was a great day out, and a night in the nick is a small price to pay, especially given that I had no money for a hotel and didn’t fancy roaming the streets of scouse-ridden Liverpool for the night. Great result all round.
Thanks Barry, although it should be stated that the Supercoach provides ample funds for its reporters to find accommodation. If our reporters choose to spend said stipend on a cocktail known as a Defribulator, consisting of vodka, cheap champagne and powdered wasabi leaves, so be it.
Lastly today, a few words from the Supercoach himself on the Cricket World Cup.
Another few days, another few hundred runs. The Black Caps dispatched the Zimbos admirably; the Windies completely humiliated host nation Bangladesh; a potentially thrilling game between Sri Lanka and Australia was sadly rained out; the crappy English squad somehow beat the Saffas; and Ireland again showed they are not to be sniffed at. It is actually turning out to be a very interesting Tournament, particularly in regards to Group B which has six teams with a genuine shot at the four Quarter Final places. Friday will be huge, with Ireland playing the Windies and England taking on Bangladesh. Surely must win games for all concerned.
Sadly, it seems that the so called ‘minnows’- ie Ireland, Canada, Netherlands, Kenya and Zimbabwe- may not have a place at the next W.C. The International Cricket Council (ICC) seems to think that 14 teams makes for an over-long unwieldy tournament, and to a certain extent they are correct. However, for international cricket to have some sort of legitimacy, let alone hope of creating greater global appeal, inclusion of these weaker nations is crucial. The current tournament is six weeks long, and certainly that is too much. It is not hard to understand the inconsistency of the English team given that they have been on tour since they traveled to Australia for the Ashes in November.
But rather than cutting down on the number of nations, how about this: compress the schedule. Teams don’t need big breaks between matches; look at other World Cups. And if players and management complain about player fatigue, simply increase the allocated squad sizes. Top teams can play weaker players against the minnows and rest their stars for the bigger matches. Sure, it would be a real test of the depth of quality of every nation involved, but surely that is what a World Cup is about anyway? And surely it can’t be called a World Cup if only ten nations are going to be involved. In the end, largely thanks to Ireland and a much improved Zimbabwe, along with the fact that the ICC undoubtedly recognises that more games means more advertising revenue, the minnows should be back for 2015. Here’s hoping anyway.
Well sports fans, that’s it for today. We’ll be back later in the week with a look at the Champions League, a preview of the Indian Wells Masters Tennis Tournament, and a review of the Black Caps taking on Pakistan. Hopefully the Comments section is working; please let us know via email if you are still having issues.