What a wild weekend.
As a result of the Wallabies getting a relatively untroubled win in Japan with absolutely no refereeing controversies, the NRL took the chance to reclaim the spotlight.
Other than that, our Women’s Cricket Team had a Sweet Sixteen on Saturday, followed by a Sweet Seventeen on Monday… which I’ll detail tomorrow in the cricket review.
The Wild Wobblies Rugby World Cup Adventure
Wallabies 45 defeated Uruguay 10 @ Showa Denko Dome Oita
After the tough outing against the OG Sheep Rooters, the win was never really in doubt for the Men in Gumtree Green, and it was really a matter of how well they’d win, and how well would 18-year-old debutant Jordan Petaia go on the big stage putting a blowtorch to a competition featherweight.
The first player to debut for the Wallabies at a World Cup since Berrick Barnes in 2007 scored a try and provided plenty of X-Factor in attack, but that try which still wasn’t as memorable as James Slipper finally scoring after 94 tests, Tevita Kuridrani was the best player on the pitch and still could’ve done more, while Taniela Tupou came off the bench and proved himself another wildcard, the breakdowns were as crap as ever, and in all, the Wallabies scored 45 points, in a performance that still leaves me thinking that the Poms or Les Coqs are going to kill them in the Quarter Finals.
Aside from Michael Cheika’s usual unpredictable team selections to find the human equivalent of a lighter for this cigarette of a team, I’d like to see one other change to the Wallabies for the Georgia game and a potential knockout game against England or France.
Flip those Indigenous jerseys to gold, and make them permanent.
Just imagine those Northern Hemisphere simpletons trudging onto the pitch in a week’s time, thinking they’re going to be playing the pack of referee whinging simpletons from Down Under, only to face a band of creatures straight out of the Dreamtime.
We might only lose by a drop goal.
South East Melbourne 91 defeated Melbourne United 88 @ Melbourne Arena
A truly historic night for the NBL, and best of all, United lost to a team to had never won a game in their existance.
Is this a case to get them to change back to the Tigers?
Surely, based on this result, Melbourne isn’t united anymore, which was the entire preface to changing their identity.
Within the opening 5 minutes, United were up Mitch Creek, as the marquee Phoenix signing went off all night, scoring 28 points with 11 rebounds, with the Yankee John Robertson scoring 20 points, as the cocky upstarts fired the first shot in a revitalised Melbourne derby.
Chris Goulding was the best for United with 27 points, but he finished with an ankle injury, not before he combined with Shawn Long’s 26 points and 13 rebound to almost drag United to victory.
Melo Trimble missed a tying 3 in the final seconds, ensuring that the Phoenix have well and truly risen from the ashes, similar to Fawkes from Harry Potter.
In a mere coincidence, both Phoenixes are owned by fruity old men.
Sydney Kings 79 defeated Cairns Taipans 71 @ Cairns Convention Centre
The Taipans led by 13 points during the 3rd Quarter, but the Kings cut the lead down to 6 at the final change, and then romped home on a 22-8 run in the final quarter, thanks to Casper The Friendly Two Guard, who recently decided that purple was more his colour.
In his first Kings appearance, Ware shot 23 points with 5 assists and 2 rebounds, joined by Kevin Lisch with 18 points, Andrew Bogut with 12 rebounds, and import Jae’Sean Tate, with 14 points and 9 rebounds.
They needed all of them to overcome a dogged Taipans team, who had 5 players score in double figures, led by their import forward Kouat Noi, with 14 points and 12 rebounds, who a few months ago, left Texas Christian and declared for the NBA Draft, only to withdraw and focus on a professional career.
When you think about it, the Kings have got 2 League MVPs on their roster, and now they’ve got a player like Ware, who is the best performed shooting guard in the league.
With that kind of talent, they might want to actually make a Grand Final series this year.
Perth Wildcats 93 defeated Melbourne United 92 @ Perth Arena
Forget about game of the week, can I declare this game of the year?
In a rematch of the 2018-19 Grand Final series, two things remained the same.
The Cats won, and Grand Final MVP Terrico White inflicted the damage, having scored 6 points through 3 Quarters, he jacked up 14 points in the last quarter, including the winning 3 with 12 seconds to go, and the hosts, having trailed at every break, somehow pulled out a win to start 2019, and leave United at 0-2.
Without Chris Goulding, it was a pill that was forced down by the Cats- United led by 10 points in the 3rd Quarter, and still led by 9 points with 3 minutes to play.
Then Terrico got White Hot.
Absolutely superb to watch, and now poor old United have to butter up, get on a Learjet and cross the Ring of Fire to the USA, just to play a few exhibition games against the LA Clippers and Sacramento Kings.
And I thought the A-League’s fixturing was weird.
Brisbane Bullets 90 defeated Illawarra Hawks 81 @ WIN Entertainment Centre
All eyes were on Lamelo Ball in his NBL debut, far away from the preying eyes of his tiger dad Lavar, and you know what- He wasn’t terrible.
12 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals suggests there’s still plenty of upside, but much like his teammates, he did have a few defensive lapses, which collectively cost the Hawks dearly against the Bullets, who were led by All-NBL First Teamer Lamar Patterson, finishing with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, and Nathan Sobey, who played a handy supporting role with 17 points and 4 assists in his Bullets debut.
The Bullets didn’t take the spotlight over Lamelo’s mere presence, but they sure as hell took the win.
Of course, somewhere else in the world, the Adelaide 36ers took on the Utah Jazz, but I can’t really report on it, considering the Jazz won by 52 points.
Still, it did go better than the Houston Rockets’ attempts at maintaining a relationship with the People’s Republic of China.
Rule #145 of the internet- Use a burner account.
NRL Grand Final Support Games
State Premiership: Newtown 20 defeated Burleigh 16
I looked back yesterday, and for obvious reasons, this utterly nuts finish was lapped by the events of Sunday evening.
The Jets won the NSW Cup against Wenty last week thanks to a miracle kick and chase try to Will Kennedy, set up by Billy ‘The Greek’ Magoulias.
7 days later, with no time remaining in the State Championship against Burleigh (Gold Coast’s feeder club), Billy somehow did the SAME. DAMN. THING, this time for Jackson Ferris, who got the bounce out of hell.
To quote renowned peace advocate George W. Bush, Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… you can’t get fooled again.
What an amazing win for the Jets, after Burleigh made them look second-rate for just over a half, thanks mainly to Ronaldo Mulitalo going to the bin for a really crap attempt at a headbutt, which all cultimated in the Bears scoring 3 tries and racing ahead 16-2 early in the 2nd Half.
The comeback began for the Jets when Sione ‘Air’ Katoa took flight in the corner, after getting clearance from Air Traffic control to take off and land.
And then you had crazier moments like Will Kennedy’s try saver (Bee’s dick job there), Anthony Don (Who scored a double) using his legs to hold on to a pass during the build up to the ugliest try ever scored, Katoa taking off again and scoring again with 4 minutes to go, only for Braydon Trindall to miss the kick and make it 14-16, the kick-off going out on the full, Trindall throwing what was seemingly the game-ending interception with a minute left, only for the Jets to get the ball back, and the Greek Wizard did exactly what his team needed him to do.
Jets prop Toby Rudolf, the Red Nosed Forward, was named Man Of the Match after running for some 230 metres on 21 runs, and it now extends the streak of the NSW Cup winner in the State Championship to 4 years.
Let’s not beat around the bush, the Bears shit the bed harder than a Prime Minister in the Engadine McDonalds in September of 1997…. against Cronulla’s feeder club, nonetheless.
NRLW Grand Final: Brisbane 30 defeated St George-Illawarra 6
The pride and joy of Queensland rugby league stood as the last hope to win something for the Sunshine State in this apocalyptic disaster of a 2019 season, and they didn’t let anyone down, as much like the Roosters, they secured back to back premierships.
In fact, it wasn’t even close.
The Broncs had 59% of possession, more than doubled the Dragons in run metres (1367 to 661) and thumped them in the unnecessary categories like the line breaks (6-1) and offloads (12-2).
10-nil at the half, and the caviar was added when the Broncos scored 3 tries between the 38th and 48th minute, blowing the score out to 30-nil, with the Red V getting a late “Thanks for Coming” gift so they didn’t get shut out.
Further summing up the rout, the Dragons had one set inside Broncos territory during the opening half, and managed to force a dropout.
They didn’t get a hand on the kick before it went over the sideline.
The only major shock that hit the Broncos was Kelvin Wright leaving fullback Chelsea Baker out of the 17 and putting Tamika Upton in the backs, who ended up leading the Broncos with 132 run metres, but forget about her, because against a Dragons team littered with Broncos that had played in the 2018 premiership, ironically, it was a former Dragon in forward Annette Brander who won the Karyn Murphy Medal.
I imagine the ladies belted out a few renditions of ‘St George Can’t Play’ during the celebrations, and deservedly so- They’re the dominant force in the short history of the NRLW (Skipper Ali Brigginshaw wants a dynasty) and nothing short of pilfering their entire playing stocks will stop them from competing the 3peat in 2020.
Tennis: Ash Barty and John Millman both make finals runs
WTA- China Open
Backing up her Semi-Final run in Wuhan, Ash Barty once again reached the last 8 of a tournament in Beijing, and first got stuck in a tough quarter final against World No.7 Petra Kvitova, who presents a style of play that Barty tends to struggle against- Power Hitting.
It’s worth noting that Kvitova had won their first 5 matchups (Including twice in Australia during January) until Barty won in Miami in March, and it appeared that Petra would go on with it again, winning the 1st Set 6-4, and having multiple chances to break in the 2nd, but Barty held tough and routinely held serve, and with the score at 5-4, had her first break points on Kvitova’s serve for the match- The first was saved, but the Par
Kvitova responded by breaking Barty’s serve in the opening game of the decider, and Barty responded by breaking Kvitova’s serve next game, and would claim the decisive break in a marathon 8th game with 4 deuces, and just as it looked like Barty would serve out the match at 5-3 40-0, Kvitova saved 3 match points, but couldn’t save the 4th, and the World No.1 passed a very tough test.
Up next was No.4 Kiki Bertens, and after they both traded punches in the opening 2 sets, it would set up what proved to be an enthralling final set- Bertens broke Barty twice and served for the match at 5-4, but tightened up big time and was broken without having a match point, eventually setting up a tiebreak, which was, put mildly, highly entertaining.
Bertens raced to a 3-0 lead, only to be pegged back by the Aussie,who served for the match 6-5, only to drop both points on her serve when Bertens responded with some balls to the wall attacking play, giving the Dutchwoman another match point at 7-6, but for some reason, she tried to serve and volley out the match, and Barty reeled her in and passed her with a forehand to tie the score at 7-all… and would win the final 2 points, to somehow win a match that looked hopeless 20 minutes earlier.
Another final appearance for the Barty Party, and she would take on the other new WTA World No.1 in 2019- Naomi Osaka.
Remarkably, despite their varying runs of success, it was the first time they’ve played each other in 2019.
Barty started very well, as her slice game had Osaka mentally scrambling around the court, and Osaka cracked when she dished up 3 double faults in a marathon 6th game with 5 deuces to hand the break to Barty, which proved decisive, as Ash powered on to win the opener 6-3.
It was all Osaka from there, as her return game started to really take off, with the consistent depth causing headaches, and she would claim the only break of the 2nd set at 4-2 thanks to Barty winding up and firing a forehand long at 30-40, and Osaka served out the 2nd Set 6-3, without facing a break point.
And in the decider, Osaka, without the weight of World No.1 on her mind, played with the sort of freedom not seen since she won the Aussie Open, and broke Barty on the opening game, having just about forced her into the grandstand on break point, and from there, she never looked back, claiming another insurance break along the way, and served out proceedings to take the final set, and the title, 6-2.
It capped off Osaka’s best run in a good 8 months, as she defeated US Open Champion Bianca Andreescu in a tough 3 setter, and back up the next day by defeating Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-final, who hadn’t dropped a set during the tournament.
On the flip side, I think those brutal 3 set matches against Kvitova and Bertens caught up to Barty physically, moreso than the “sterile” conditions in Beijing, which nullified her slice game, and meant that no matter how hard she was hitting the ball, she “couldn’t crack an egg out there.”
Despite the loss, Ash is now 1000 points clear from Karo Pliskova at the top of the WTA rankings, and unless she falls off a searing cliff face throughout October (She will lose points not being able to defend the WTA Elite Trophy), then she just might finish as the Year End No.1.
ATP- Tokyo (The Millman delivers)
Just a few weeks ago, certified loose unit John Millman was playing Challengers in Taiwan after dropping those US Open Quarter Final points, then he lost to Alex De Minaur in the first round in Zhuhai.
Even during qualifying for Tokyo, all the way back on the 28th of September, Millman faced 3 match points during a 2nd set tiebreak against American Bradley Klahn, but, giving us proof that the Millman delivers on Saturdays, he saved them all, won the tiebreak 11-9, then powered away to win the match, cracked the main draw, and then took full advantage as the seeds fell by the wayside, coming through his section to reach his second career ATP final, and in the process, had a shot at winning his first career title.
There was just one problem.
He was up against Novak Djokovic, who was making his first appearance in Japan, ahead of the Olympics next year.
It didn’t go well for the Millman.
On the bright side, Millman’s ranking rose from 80 to 58.
The Nags: Chris Waller craps on us all… again
Epsom Day at Randwick, and Turnbull Stakes day at Flemington, seen as the traditional ‘moving day’ of the Spring Carnival, had one bloody thing in common.
Chris Waller won them all, and in the process, became the first trainer in Australian history to win 4 Group 1 races in a day.
First, Funstar bolted in with the Flight Stakes in the small field, then Kolding kept up his monster run of form since being gelded, by holding off the brutally unlucky Te Akau Shark to win the Epsom, then down south, Waller quinella’d the Turnbull Stakes, as Kings Will Dream (Jye McNeil’s first Group 1) beat the fast finishing Finche, and then, in the deadset boat race that was the Metropolitan, the former Sandgroper Come Play With Me (Formerly trained and still owned by the Durrant family) charged home to beat Gallic Chieftain, which would have to be the first Group 1 win in Sydney by a WA-bred horse since Placid Ark won the Canterbury in 1987.
I’ve probably missed a few in the 32 years since, but it’s the only one that sticks out.
Of course, that’s a hat-trick of Turnbull wins for Waller, after Winx’s wins in 2017-18, and funnily enough, he quinella’d the race last year as well.
Unlike some of the other Group 1 results of late, none of them were truly massive upsets- Funstar was the red hot favourite, Kolding was equal favourite with Te Akau Shark, Kings Will Dream in the Turnbull was ‘only’ 11-1, and Come Play With Me was the 3rd favourite at 8.50 in a tight market.
Further backing up his dominance of Australian racing, Waller entered horses in 6 races at Randwick, and won them all.
He entered runners in 3 races at Flemington, and won 2 of them (Haut Brion Her won the G2 Blazer)- The only runner that failed was Subpoenaed in the Edward Manifold.
As well as Mr Waller, another flying Kiwi in James McDonald rode 5 winners (4 for Chris and 1 for the Snowdens), and Glen Boss, in winning the Epsom, extended his remarkable record at the Randwick Mile, with the win being his 11th Group 1 win at the track/distance.
Of course, despite his 100+ Group One wins in the last decade, Chris somehow still can’t win a Caulfield Cup…. or a Melbourne Cup.