Tag Archives: rugby-league

Friday musing – State of Origin, NBA, Women’s World Cup, AFL

Chris Barwin HillsOn Wednesday night I ventured along to the MCG with 91,500 others to watch Game 2 of the State of Origin series between NSW & Queensland. It was certainly a much better game than Game 1 with an early try to both teams. However, the most exhilarating part of the night, the Greg Inglis near length of the field try, was disallowed by the video referee. I don’t claim to be an expert on Rugby League, but to the letter of the law it would seem the decisionUnknown was correct, but what an anti-climax! In the end the game was essentially decided on two very marginal video referee calls. The Josh Morris try where he appeared to only get a thumbnail worth of downward pressure on the ball and Myles knock-on which cost Inglis his try. Both decisions looked correct on review. I enjoyed the game, but I think rugby league is probably a better game to watch on television, particularly for the uninitiated. That observation may also explain why their club games do not draw big crowds.

The NBA final series came to a close earlier in the week and it was good to see Andrew Bogut celebrate his win with the Golden State Warriors, however, given he had no game time in the last two games and only a couple of minutes in game 4, it may be a slightly hollow feeling for him. He obviously deserved the accolades but it would have been good to see the coach put him on for the last couple of Unknownminutes given they had a reasonable lead at that stage. I hark back to the old days with football when you had the 19th & 20th men and the coach would bring them on for the last couple of minutes of a grand final just so they felt part of it. Continuing with the NBA it is hard to see how LeBron James could not be considered the MVP for the final series given his herculean performance, however, I understand that in American sport that the MVP would never go to a player in the losing team.

Great to see the Australian women’s soccer team, the Matildas, get through to the round of 16. I know the team from the United States is always strong in women’s soccer, but Australia was in the ‘GroupUnknown of Death’ together with the Nigerian and Swedish teams. To get through that group was a very good effort. They now come up against Brazil who are one of the tournament favourites so fingers crossed for the Matildas.

The “3rd man up” in ruck contests in the AFL is generating a bit of discussion at the moment and I think the way Geelong are using it with Mark Blicavs & Rhys Stanley has probably narrowed the discussion. It seemed to me that last week against Port Adelaide, imagesone of them was blocking Matthew Lobbe while the other one took the hit out. That would appear to be contrary to the rules, but not only that, what happens if each side sends another man up, then you have 4 players competing for the throw in and it begins to get farcical. I am starting to agree with Leigh Matthews that the “3rd man up” should be banned.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – AFL, Malthouse, NRL, State of Origin, FIFA, Sepp Blatter & more

Chris Barwin HillsWell the Carlton/Malthouse issue was finally brought to a close this week with Mick challenging the board to make a decision which they duly did. While I have not been a supporter of Malthouse, it is sad that the coaching games record holder should go out in such an inglorious fashion. I also have an antipathy towards Carlton built up over many years, but watching them play Geelong last Friday nightUnknown was quite painful and I must say I felt sorry for them (a first). I didn’t think Geelong played all that well, but Carlton did not punish them for their plentiful mistakes. Something had to give and it is always the coach in that situation, but not usually so early in the season. With Carlton playing again tonight I think I might watch a movie as you would anticipate that the Swans will show no mercy.

I also watched the rugby league State of Origin game during the Dalligan & Gordieweek and while the game was close, I must say I found it rather boring. It did not have any real highlights and Queensland’s
experience in the end got them over line.

The FIFA situation with a number of delegates being arrested was probably the biggest issue in world sport and if every country was honest, Sepp Blatter should not be re-elected president. The problem will be that the delegates, who have been involved in the untoward activities, will probably feel safer with the existing regime that has propagated the issues that are under scrutiny now.

Well we have the dream final in the NBA with Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, so we should have an Australian on the Unknownwinning team again. As stated last week I would like to see Andrew Bogut salute. He has been around for a long time and suffered a number of injuries, and not only that, he is an Essendon supporter!

Speaking of Essendon I cannot let the week go by without congratulating Dustin Fletcher on his 400th game. In his 23rd season at the age of 40 he has missed over 100 games through injury and suspension which makes his milestone all the more remarkable.

Have a great weekend!

NRL video referrals a joke!

meWith the 2015 NRL season only three rounds old, there have already been too many instances of poor decisions being made by the video referee. One wonders why the NRL has the system if the referees continue to get it wrong.

The NRL Laws and Interpretations regarding video refereeing are straight forward and indicate that, when called upon, the video referee will assess if there is ‘sufficient evidence’ to confirm or overturn the decision made on the field. If there is ‘sufficient evidence’ that the on field ruling is correct, the decision is to be confirmed. Conversely if there is ‘sufficient evidence’ that the decision is incorrect, the decision is to be reversed. If there is ‘insufficient evidence’ the on field decision should be confirmed.

Just looking at the last round, there were three referrals that bear1426851722530 scrutiny. In the first game of the round Manly were awarded a try to Steve Matai after video review. The ruling on the field was ‘no try’. The video evidence did not show anything conclusive and certainly did not provide ‘sufficient evidence’ of a try. When viewed in the light of the NRL Laws, the on field decision should clearly have been maintained. But it wasn’t. Fortunately, the decision did not affect the outcome of the match.

CAsOoOaUgAAguqR.jpg-largeIn the second instance, both the on field referee and the video ref both missed a knock on prior to a Newcastle try, that just about everyone else in the stadium and viewing on television saw. It looked very clear on the video replay. The Knights wen on to defeat the Gold Coast Titans 20-18. The botched call cost the Titans the match and two precious points.

Finally, a try to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was disallowed notwithstanding the video evidence showed the ball was grounded in the corner. Video ref Shayne Hayne agreed with the on field official’s no try decision even though the video showed there were four of Watene-Zelezniak’s fingers on the ball.

NRL referee’s boss Tony Archer, after looking at these decisions conceded the Newcastle decision was incorrect but said there won’tNRL RAIDERS RABBITOHS be a change to the system. I would agree! The Rules relating to video referral are quite sufficient if they are adhered to.  Further education on the Rules needs to be provided to the people who are reviewing the decisions. If that doesn’t lead to improvement, then the NRL needs some new video refs.

Players, coaches and fans all deserve to have consistent interpretations so that they can have confidence in the system. Anything less is not good enough.

Tebow or Hayne….who’ll get closer to making an NFL list?

Feb 27 2011 016With the news that the Philadelphia Eagles have brought former quarterback, Tim Tebow in for a workout, it prompted me to ask whether Tebow or Jarryd Hayne would be more likely to still be around when NFL teams make their final cuts to lists at the end of the pre-season.

You may remember that Tebow, the 2007 Heisman trophy winner, was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos and started 14 games. In 2011 he took over at quarterback from Kyle Orton and transformed the Broncos from a 1-4 record to Unknownfinish 8-8, a Division title and an unlikely overtime playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, when Peyton Manning game to town, Tebow was shipped off to the New York Jets for a fourth round draft selection. Things didn’t work out in New York and Tim soon found himself out of the game.

Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly is currently in the process of reshaping the player list so there is every possibility that Tebow could be signed for the pre-season so that he can show his wares. I doubt Kelly, a former College coach with the Oregon Ducks, is bringing Tebow in for his pocket passing skills but rather for his running and improvisational abilities. If Tebow can make it anywhere, he can make it under a Chip Kelly offence and I rate him as a real chance.

Contrast that with the position of Hayne at the San Francisco 49ers.image A person who has not played in the NFL or, for that matter,  a competitive game of ‘grid iron’ at all. Although his position on the extended list is apparently guaranteed until the last week of training camp, unlike Tebow, he has no body of work to fall back on or reference point for the 49er coaches. Clearly he will need to come up with performances that have a ‘wow’ factor in order to survive through to the season proper.

Las Vegas doesn’t offer odds on whether players will make a list on the basis that some team officials already know the answer to that question.  However, if I could bet, I’d be on Tebow.

3 things to contemplate on a Friday – Arsenal, NRL, Tiger Woods

Feb 20 2011 0061. Being an Arsenal fan is a tough gig. Having risen to third place in the Premier League, the Gunners had the ‘user friendly’ Monaco as their last sixteen opponent in the Champions League yesterday and a home ground advantage. The unexpected 1-3 result now leaves Arsene Wenger’s team the task of winning by at least 3-0 away to make the final eight.

Coach Wenger described the team’s play as ‘It looks like we lost our nerve and rationality’.

Arsenal are the true Jekyll and Hyde team if you compare this performance with the stunning win away against title contenders Manchester City several weeks ago.

Life is certainly a roller coaster for the fans.

2. NRL boss Dave Smith is kidding himself if he believes his recent mantra ‘Let’s keep it in perspective’, regarding the drug woes of five of the Gold Coast Titan’s players, is how we should see the issue. Five players make up 16% of the list and two of those players in Greg Bird and David Taylor are State of Origin representatives. In addition, the issue precipitated the NRL taking over the Club.

With the press indicating that there may be further names revealed by the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission including implications for League players across the border in NSW, I think we have enough of the perspective to know this is not a small matter!

3. Tiger Woods has completed his first golf course design – that is good news for the former World number one. With his golf game struggling (he hit a career high 82 two weeks ago) and his physical health in question (a back injury prevented him finishing a recent tournament at Torrey Pines), it seems like time for Tiger to take on less onerous pursuits that don’t require swinging a club to make a living.

As predicted on Sportsman Radio several years ago, Jack Nicklaus’ career majors win total is in no danger at all!

Titans in major state of disrepair…can NRL intervention fix that?

Feb 20 2011 006The Gold Coast hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Rugby League. There have been three prior attempts at life on the Gold Coast in the form of the Giants, Seagulls & Chargers between 1988 & 1998. It is fair to say that not one of those teams covered themselves in glory and each one ended in failure.

As a comparator, Brisbane Broncos and Newcastle Knights were also admitted in the same year of 1988 and they have won eight premierships between them.

The NRL sought to revive the Gold Coast push and introduced the Titans in 2007. It is arguable that they are an upgrade on the three prior teams, having made the finals in 2009 and 2010. However, they have struggled to retain stability in their playing list and flashy signings haven’t worked out for them ie. Jamal Idris leaving after two years of a five year contract. That combination has led to the inevitable decline in crowd numbers over the last three seasons.

Since late 2014, the Club has made headlines for all the wrong reasons starting off with the Club being unable to afford to remain at their ‘Centre of Excellence’ base at Robina due to an inability to afford the rent. They are currently in temporary accommodation and still looking for an administration and training home just a week away from the start of the NRL season. If that was not enough, the Titans are without a major sponsor for the 2015 season and given recent media attention, are unlikely to find one thereby exacerbating financial pressures.

With two strikes on the scoresheet, the third strike came in the form of a number of players being charged by the Queensland Crime Commission with drug charges. Some of those charged, Greg Bird, David Taylor, Kalifa Faifai Loa and Beau Falloon would have formed an important part of the team in 2015 and have all been stood down until further notice. They could well miss the entire season.

Checking Nick Tedeschi’s NRL Punter’s Guide, he says as follows of those players:

Bird – Blue chip player – one of the strongest runners in the game, a staple of the Australian and NSW teams, a big game player.
Taylor – was at times devastating in 2014. His freakish combination of size and skill only countered by an equal lack of football intelligence.
Falloon – Club’s top hooker. Had best season in 2014 winning the Club’s player of the year gong.
Loa – Probably third in line for a wing spot but is a better player than Gordon and Mead and should get a look in at some point.

Earlier today, the NRL in the form of CEO Dave Smith indicated that the NRL will be taking over the troubled franchise. He says there are no thoughts of relocation or of winding the team up. Positive sentiments indeed, but the club is a basket case!

One wonders, given what has transpired since the end of the 2014 season, why it took so long for NRL HQ to step in. There were certainly enough indicators for much earlier intervention.

If as expected the Titans have a poor season on field (Tom Waterhouse had them at $6.00 for the wooden spoon – he probably has stopped taking bets on them with recent developments!), sponsors and crowds will stay away and make saving the franchise that much harder. Perhaps the Titans are that badly broken that even the NRL can’t save them.

2015 NRL Punter’s Guide

tedeschiSportzfan Radio contributor, Nick Tedeschi has once again put pen to paper to provide an anthology of facts and figures for all Rugby League aficionados with his 2015 Punter’s Guide to the NRL Season.

It has been a described as a must for all NRL fans, and, after a sample read, I must agree!

Not only a no holds barred analysis of each team but also a statistical evaluation and betting appraisal. If you can’t win a fantasy competition using the Guide, I give up! It is also recommended for anyone who is going to wager on the NRL this season.

At $9.95, its value should soon return more than the cost of purchase. To obtain a copy of the Guide go to www.makingthenut.com and follow the easy steps. You won’t regret it!

Some clubs will never learn

barbaOne wonders what NRL Clubs thought when confronted with the fact that one of the wisest and most successful coaches going around in Wayne Bennett decides to release Ben Barba from the remaining two years of his contract with the Brisbane Broncos.

Like me, smart clubs would have ignored the fact that Barba was on the market.

Not the Cronulla Sharks though, or a number of other clubs for that matter who all showed an interest in the full back once Bennett gave Barba his marching orders.

Forget for the moment that the club from the Shire will be his third team in three years or that Barba had a really ordinary season for the Broncos in 2014 or that the Broncos were so eager to rid bennettthemselves of Barba that they were prepared to pay half his salary with his new team or that the player has self confessed gambling and alcohol problems or that he failed to complete a rehabilitation course ordered by Canterbury in 2013.

But return if you will to season 2013, when Barba was in a Canterbury jersey. For those with short memories, he was released on compassionate grounds from the balance of his contract at the end of that season and was headed to the Broncos because of their well regarded welfare program. The catalyst for the release on that occasion was an alleged incident where Barba struck a female companion.

One would have thought the lessons of history would have taught Cronulla well given the union with the troubled Todd Carney that ended in tears.

And all this for $800,000.00 per season – As I said ….. some clubs never learn.

Friday musing – Melbourne Cup, cricket, AFL…

I was disappointed to hear how Australia had fared in the cricket in Abu Dhabi overnight and it rekindled a gripe I have about Test cricket, particularly games against India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka. A test wicket should offer assistance to the quicks in the first session at least and provide a good contest between bat and ball. Australia has the most dangerous fast bowler in the world at the moment in MitchChris Barwin Hillsell Johnson and he gets his first and only wicket in the second session with the only wicket in the first session going to Lyon the spinner. If the ICC wants to promote Test cricket as the pinnacle of the game they have to have the fortitude to demand pitches which provide a proper contest. Having said that Younis Khan has to be congratulated for his three successive centuries which is a formidable feat no matter how good the wickets have been for batsmen. Speaking of batsmen, Australia’s performance in the 1st test was quite lamentable with only Warner & Johnson able to hold their heads up.

It was an amazing performance by Adelaide in the Cox plate last week, languishing at the back of the filed he made one of the longest sustained runs I have ever seen in the time honoured race. He was helped by the banked turns at the Valley and at the turn into the straight looked like he was going to win running away, but the length of his run told in the final stages and Fawkner and the others on his inside pushed him all the way to the line. It was an even more memorable performance when you consider that he is only a 3yo and because of the difference in breeding schedules in Europe he had to carry the weight of a 4yo in the Plate. However, I do wonder why they gave a colt a female name, what next a filly named Sydney?

Moving on to the AFL fixture I note that Essendon are again playing the Demons in a home game at the MCG. The Bombers have hosted Melbourne in at least the last 4 games at the MCG and have lost 3 of them in circumstances where they have started warm favourites each time. Everyone knows Melbourne perform poorly at Etihad, but we keep playing them at the G. Why? I was also perplexed to note that the Bombers only play 2 Friday night games, both against North Melbourne. While the Bombers didn’t win too many of their Friday night fixtures this year, they put on some pretty good games against Hawthorn, Geelong & Sydney. Speaking from the perspective of my own team, not a great draw in my opinion.

In passing I think Paul Gallen is obviously pretty stupid for his Tweet insulting the NRL chiefs, but a $50,000 fine!! That is hefty and I question if it really fits the crime. $5-10,000 would have sent the same message.

Have a great weekend.

Friday musing – AFL trade period, NRL, Caulfield Guineas…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell what a week in AFL trading! We already knew about Paddy Ryder and Dayne Beams, but this week Allen Christensen and Ryan Griffen emerge wanting to be traded. Who will pop up next? These trades will be difficult, but if a player has publicly flagged that he wants to go, he has to be traded in my opinion. There are exceptions, like Ryan O’Keefe who flagged a few years ago that he wanted to go to Hawthorn, the Swans kept him and he went on to win the Norm Smith medal in their 2012 premiership side. Supporters from the four clubs involved will all be very disappointed as the players are popular players at their clubs, but for different reasons they want to go and the clubs have to try and get the best deal available.

On a related topic, I was not surprised the AFL knocked back the proposed de-listing of Paddy Ryder to give Essendon an additional draft pick. It would have been a good result for the club, but tantamount to draft manipulation.

Now that it is inevitable that Paddy is going, my son will have to remove the badge from his jumper and send it over to Port Adelaide. The situation at Essendon seems to be lurching from bad to worse. What player would want to come to that club the way things are at the moment? Even Jason Winderlich, who grew up an Essendon supporter and was not involved in the supplements saga wants to go! I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel at the moment and this is a club that played finals this year!

I watched the NRL Grand Final last week and it was a lot more competitive than the AFL equivalent. Although South Sydney did eventually blow Canterbury out of the water, the game was in the balance until about half way through the second half. The game apparently rated higher than the AFL Grand Final and there has been a renewed push for the AFL to play its Grand Final at night. As much as the ratings would be better, I hope the AFL retain the afternoon time slot, but money does dictate the terms in sport these days and it is probably inevitable that the AFL Grand Final will be played at night or the early evening before too long. The first AFL night final was in 1993 so we are probably lucky that it has lasted in the afternoon for so long.

The Spring Racing Carnival is really starting to pick up with Caulfield Guineas Day this Saturday. This is one of the best days on the racing calendar and should Rich Enuff emerge as the winner of the Guineas this weekend, we may have found the star of the carnival. To date no horse has stamped their authority on the Spring and racing really does need stars to bring people to the races. Weight For Age racing looks a bit thin this year and if Rich Enuff can get through he would be highly fancied in the Cox Plate. He looks the logical winner with Looks Like the Cat the one that could knock him off without being a big upset.

Have a great weekend!