A-League

JT’s Sporting Review: 24th-28th October

Continuing the fine tradition of New Zealand sporting teams losing on technicalities

Let’s just say I’ve got got to cut through the crap and make light work of about 7 different sports.


Constellation Cup: Australia retain the trophy on goal difference


Game 4: Diamonds 53 defeated Silver Ferns 46 @ Perth Arena

The Diamonds had to call in the big guns to retain the Constellation Cup.

So, Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided to rock up courtside… as did a Perth record 13,233 fans.

What an outstanding move that was from the PM- Lisa Alexander’s chargers would take one look at him, and subsequently be scared shitless into performing well for the ‘Strayan people, and avoiding another annoying one goal defeat to the dreaded mutton munchers.

You clearly couldn’t say that about Jacinda Ardern.

16-7 in the opening quarter, and at one point in the 2nd quarter, the lead had blown out to 31-15, as the Silver Ferns looked in more trouble than Scott was when he visited the Engadine McDonalds looking for a toilet in September of 1997.

25 errors in the 1st Half really did them in, led by captain Laura Langman, who committed 6 turnovers.

Still, they hit back hard with a 7-1 start to the 3rd Quarter, storming back in the face of some fruity officiating, which was headed by a crew from… Singapore?

They got a crew from Singapore to officiate the toughest series in world Netball?

That’s like flying in Far North Queenslanders to umpire the AFL Grand Final.

Like Keith Richards, the Kiwis just couldn’t be vanquished, and cut the lead down to 4 goals with 6 minutes left, but eventually, the Diamonds steadied, and ensured they would lead for the entire game.

53-46 the final, and thanks to their two blowout wins, up against the pair of one goal wins to the Kiwis, and thanks to ScoMo’s guidance, the Diamonds retain the trophy for the 7th year running, based on goal difference/percentage.

“Has Albo ever done this?”

Caitlin Bassett has long proven that there is hope for those downtrodden Perth Modern students, with Sunday bringing up her 100th Diamonds appearance, and she turned in 25/28 goals at GS, and Caitlin Thwaites got the the dream send off she deserved for a fine international career, replacing Bassett in the 3rd Quarter, and providing good support with 6 goals from 7 attempts.

Hmmm.. A Kiwi national sporting team managed to lose another trophy on a technicality.

I swear I’ve seen it happen before this year.


The Anzac Test: Kangaroos 26 defeated Kiwis 4 @ The Gong


This Kangaroos team was so young they may as well have been nicknamed the Joeys, which probably means they’re bound to do lines of blow at Kings Cross in a few years and still get held in high regard, because shit, they’re legends.

I don’t have too much to say about the game, other than the performance of the Kiwis in that 2nd Half was perfectly summed up by their kickoff to the final 40.

It sailed out in the full by a good 5 metres.

And then in the 53rd minute, they played that weird piece of Globetrotter footy on the last tackle that went on for a good 40 seconds, and ended up Adam Blair throwing a stray pass that went straight to Damien Cook, who went 80 metres untouched and scored, kicking off the 2nd Half avalanche of one more try.

So apparently Boyd Cordner is now the first New South Welshman to complete the treble of captaining an Origin series win, a First Grade Premiership win, and a Test match win in the same year, joining Mal, Old Man Cam, and Darren ‘Smoker’s Larynx’ Lockyer in that club.

Surely this historic achievement is grounds for a review of the NSWRL Team of the Century, and the inclusion of Boyd as captain, in place of that overrated has-been Clive Churchill, who never achieved the feat, and only has a medal named after him that gets awarded to the best player on the losing Grand Final team.


NBL: Round 4


Thursday

NZ Breakers 103 defeated Illawarra Hawks 72 @ Spark Arena

Aside from a massive win on the scoreboard for the Kiwis, led by skipper Tom Abercrombie’s perfect point shooting game (5-5 FG and 4-4 Free Throws) it was a massive win for the NBL.

Thanks to the hype around the matchup between RJ Hampton and Lamelo Ball (Call it a 1-1 draw), who will both go in the 1st Round of the next NBA draft barring a catastrophic injury, a game between two middling teams attracted a record 1.9 million viewers on Facebook, plus a couple more million views on the other social media platforms.

Based on pure numbers, that beats out Lamelo’s debut a few weeks for the most viewed game in the history of Australian domestic basketball.

If you told the blokes running the NBL during the chaotic years of the mid-80s, or even in the late 90s, that one day you’d have just on 2 million people watching an NBL game, they’d ask you if your dealer was at St Kilda Pier.

Numbers like that are a massive tick of approval for what Larry Kestelman and his crew are doing to improve the NBL.

Friday

Adelaide 36ers 101 defeated Cairns Taipans 97 @ Adelaide Arena

What an utterly wild game.

Kouat Noi scored the Taipans’ first 8 points, and the Snakes shot their way to an 8 point lead in the 1st Quarter, only for the Sixers to respond to that punch to the mouth with one of their own- A 13-0 run in the 2nd Quarter to lead by 7 at the half.

The game started to turn into something resembling a rout when the hosts broke free to end the 3rd Quarter on an 8-0 run- A 14-3 run in all, as the Taipans only scored one basket in the final 5 minutes of the 3rd Quarter (Scotty Machado hit a 3 pointer with 3:10 to go), leaving the score at a virtually unassailable 84-69.

Knowing defeat was the likely outcome, Snakes coach Mike Kelly decided to issue one simple order.

Jack. Up. The 3.

The Taipans shot 7/12 from deep in that final quarter- As many 3s as the Sixers made FOR THE GAME- and whittled the lead down to 2 points with only 90 seconds to go.

And then Dan Johnson found a mismatch on Majok Deng for a clutch layup, Machado missed a 3, and from there the final seconds whittled away in the Sixers’ favour.

Plenty of heroes on both sides- Jerome Randle with 22 points, Johnson with 19 to get the hosts home, and for the Snakes, Machado had 14 points and 9 assists, while Cam Oliver scored 21 points on 8/9 shooting, with his only miss coming with 3 minutes to go in the game.

Perth Wildcats 110 defeated SEM Phoenix 79 @ Perth Arena

After their hot start, the Phoenix finally hopped on a plane, and for the first time, experienced the same travelling pains that every other team experiences for 5 months a year.

By the 4th Quarter, they were wishing John Denver had been the one flying the plane to Perth.

By gee by jingo by crikey, the Wildcats cleaned up the Phoenix to such a degree that none of their starters scored double figures, and then proceeded to demolish them at their own game, shooting 40/79 from the field, and 15/33 from beyond the arc.

By contrast, the Phoenix only shot 7/26 from 3.

This is a team that had scored at least 100 points in their last 4 games… but none of them were against a team with Damian Martin and his fetish for defensive basketball.

Really simple stuff for the Cats, who continue to do what they’ve done for the last 35 years, and continue banking early season wins before inevitably popping up in the playoffs.

Saturday

Melbourne United 104 defeated Breakers 98 @ Melbourne Arena

Amazing scenes, as United finally recorded their first win of the NBL season.

Proving how foreign the concept of victory has become to the Melbournians, it was a win that wasn’t safe until the final 20 seconds, as the Breakers had led by as much as 12 points early into the 2nd Quarter and led all the way through the first 3 Quarters, but it was the combined shooting efforts of Chris Goulding and the imports Melo Trimble and Shawn Long vaulted United over the top.

As Monday rolled around, it turned out to be a fleeting feeling.

Sydney Kings 94 defeated Brisbane Bullets 79 @ Qudos Bank Arena

Nathan Sobey scored 21 points and Lamar Patterson scored 20 for the Bullets, but just proving how good this Kings team is playing right now, they still gave the Queenslanders a manhandling, despite Kevin Lisch sitting on the sidelines until New Years, and Andrew Bogut getting ejected early into the 4th Quarter for his 2nd unsportsmanlike foul.

In Japan, the Kings would be considered a creature known as ‘Orochi’, and if that is the case, NBL teams may as well try bringing august swords instead of basketballs to try and beat them.

A 5-0 start to the year for the Purple Army, and the more I watch them play, I’m left thinking to myself that Andrew Gaze’s coaching really was the deadwood this team needed to shed.

Turn it up, Drewy.

Sunday

SEM Phoenix 101 defeated 36ers 91 @ Melbourne Arena

With no pesky Wildcats to destroy their shooting patterns, the game could basically be summed up like this.

The 36ers were up Mitch Creek without a paddle.

Nah just kidding, it was moreso John Roberson getting let off the chain and dry humping the Sixers perimeters defence to death that decided the game, as he jacked up repeated 3 balls on his way to 24 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds.

Roberson shot 7/15 for the game- 6/10 were from 3, a behaviour that caught on with his teammates, who shot a total of 15/37 from deep, compared to the Sixers, who only shot 5/20.

In actual fact, the Phoenix made more Free Throws (20/23) than they did 2 point FGs (18-40).

Still, because of those 3 pointers, the Phoenix won by 10 points.

Simple mathematics will tell you what that means.

Wildcats 81 defeated Hawks 76 @ WIN Entertainment Centre

If you ask me, the Hawks can take plenty from this game- Lamelo had 13 points & 10 rebounds, Tim Coenraad scored 18 points, they gave the defending champs a decent fright, and hopefully things don’t look too bad for Aaron B-

Welp, may as well smother the pillow over this 1-6 shitshow of a season, and just keep feeding Lamelo the ball (No pun intended) until he most likely dies of asphyxiation, and robs some poor NBA team of millions in free Kardashian style publicity.

Taipans 90 defeated Melbourne United 85 @ The Snake Pit

Melo Trimble returned to Townsville for the first time since he left the Snake Pit, and was bitten with a fierce chorus of boos, but he and his teammates overcame that hostile reception, and at that quarter time you couldn’t put enough of your pineapples or your gorillas on United, as they gave the Taipans a belting on the offensive boards thanks to Shawn Long, and led 31-18.

From there, it was, as Basil Zemplas once said when Nick Kyrgios had an Australian Open meltdown, a 360 degree turnaround.

The Taipans began forcing turnovers, started getting more offesnive rebounds and converting them to second chance points, and after that 1st Quarter, the Snakes completely took over the game, and outscored United 71-54 in the final 3 Quarters, overcoming Trimble’s 21 points and Long’s 21 points and 18 rebounds, which they simply combatted by bringing Outback Shaq off the bench to score 18 points.

United are now 1-4, and you just hate to see it.


(V)A(R)-League: Round 3


Melbourne Victory 1 defeated Brisbane Roar 0 @ Lang Park

Robbie Fowler tasted defeat for the first time as an A-League manager, thanks to Andrew Nabbout slipping in behind the Roar defence and scoring 19 minutes in, and the Victory had a goal against what was the run of play.

And then the father-to-be gave his hamstring a mighty tug 20 minutes later, and he’s now out until December.

There wasn’t much interesting after that, outside of a heap of bookings and a wild 78th minute sequence, in which Ola Tovionen hit the left post from a free kick, and then Scott Neville’s attempt at a clearance nearly rebounded straight into King Elvis Kamsoba and over the line, which would’ve just about ended the match.

Still, it didn’t, the Roar never found an equaliser, and the Victory scored their first win of the 2019-20 season.

Adelaide United 2 defeated Newcastle Jets 1 @ McDonald Jones Stadium

Riley McGree scored a worldie of a scorpion kick for the Jets in the 2017-18 finals, and this time around, in Reds colours, he produced another crazy goal, this time AGAINST the Jets, producing what the kiddies call, an ‘Olympic Goal’ in the 60th minute, sending in a corner from the far right touchline, which caught the breeze, swung back perfectly, and sailed over the dumbfounded head of Glen Moss.

Combined with his goal in the 49th minute to level the scores, McGree was the difference between the teams, and the Reds capped off another trophy-filled week in their history.

Western Sydney Wanderers 1 defeated Sydney FC 0 @ Bankwest Stadium

28,519 fans for the first Derby at Western Sydney Stadium, and was Mitch Duke’s diving header in the 19th minute that would ultimately win it for the Wanderers, who defended superbly against a Sky Blues barrage all night, and made this historic night one to remember.

I guess you could say Duke was the King for a day.

But of course, there was typically big elephant sized VAR problem in the room, which appeared when Sydney FC thought they’d scored the equaliser in the 52nd minute through Kosta Barbarouses, but the referees gave them nothing, because they don’t have the special smart watches that other leagues around the world have, because apparently it’s too expensive.

The VAR, nor the television cameras at the ground, could give a conclusive look at whether or not the shot had 100% crossed the line.

In the end, nobody had a damn clue, so they stayed with the onfield decision of no goal, much to everyone’s delight at seeing the Sky Blues get screwed.

On the same play, Rhyan Grant got dry humped into the ground, but the VAR gave that the all clear as well, and then 10 minutes later, the Sky Blues missed out on another chance when Alex Baumjohann’s cross appeared to strike the arm of Kearyn Baccus, which was waved away by referee Faghani waved it away, and another VAR check waved it away.

Your heart just goes out to those poor Sky Blues fans, first having to travel to war-torn Western Sydney, and then losing because of some apparent refereeing conspiracy.

More wild scenes in Western Sydney, as the Wanderers bag their first Derby win since February of 2017, and once more, the Red and Black Bloc ask a familiar question in a proud manner.

WHO DO WE SING FOR?

WE SING FOR WANDERERS!

Perth Glory 2 defeated Wellington Phoenix 1 @ The Cake Tin

Another gipping edition of The Distance Derby, and it was the 100th A-League appearance for the Spanish magician Diego Castro, and on this most magical of days, it took all of 11 minutes for the Spaniard to engineer Bruno Fornaroli’s first Glory goal, and his first since last November.

Stefan Marinovic kept out the Glory’s many attempts at a 2nd goal with a few ripper saves, until the 33rd minute, Castro honoured Ivan Franjic’s dart into the box with a well-weighted pass, and after the Phoenix couldn’t clear the ball, Ikonomidis buried his second goal of the season to give the Glory a 2-0 lead.

The ‘Nux would get a last minute consolation goal thanks to a penalty against Dino Djulbic on Gary Hooper, which was put away by Ulises Davila, and then the referee immediately blew the whistle for full-time on the restart.

The Phoenix have now lost their opening 3 games, and there’s only one way to go when you’re down.

Further down.

Melbourne City 2 defeated Western United 1 @ Kardinia Park

The first of the newly created red headed bastard Melbourne Derbies, which was appropriately played in Geelong.

At 5 o’clock.

On a Sunday Evening.

Whoop de doo.

Still, City overcame a red card to Harry Delbridge with half an hour to play to beat their younger brothers to the West, thanks entirely to another brace to Jamie Maclaren, and now that they can move on from not turning up in the FFA Cup Final, they they can build on this continued good A-League start, especially with Maclaren continuing his hot st-

Goddammit.



Tennis: The WTA Finals begin and GOATs aren’t scared of Demons

The end of the WTA season has finally hit, and with the year end No.1 on the line, Ash Barty apparently got the Group of Death, getting drawn in the Red Group with Belinda Bencic, who she’d never played, Naomi Osaka, who beat her just 3 weeks ago in China, and Petra Kvitova, who has that power game that Barty notoriously struggles against… even though Barty knocked her over in their last 2 meetings.

First up on Sunday evening was Bencic, who in 2019 returned to the heights she reached as teenager, after several years worth of injuries.

After coughing up the 1st set on the back of a bad service game at 5-5, Barty struck early into the 2nd Set to take a 2-0 lead off the back of a few break point chances, as Bencic began to struggle with a heel problem, which appeared to get inside her head, as Barty established a 5-0 lead, and overcame a few break point chances to take the 2nd set 6-1, after which Bencic had a medical timeout to get her left heel taped up.

Both players held serve to begin the final set, but next time around on Bencic’s serve, Barty secured the early break thanks to a dead net-cord winner, and from there, Bencic, who was the best 3rd Set player in the WTA this year, just fell to bits mentally, and the Queenslander powered on to see out the match 5-7 6-1 6-2, and set the very early benchmark for the Group with 2 matches to come.

As a result of that win, Ash’s wonder season is guaranteed to end with a historic first for an Australian woman, as she will become the 14th player to hold the WTA’s Year End No.1 ranking.

Dear lord, I cannot fathom the sheer weight of shit she’s going to have heaped on her in the New Year by Channel Nine.

Meanwhile in the men’s game Alex De Minaur popped up at the Swiss Indoors in Basel, and made a fantastic run to the final, dropping just one set along the way (A tiebreak to the lanky Yankee Reilly Opela in the Semi) but alas, there was only one problem.

He was playing Roger Federer at his hometown tournament.

He’s only won it 9 times, and was once a ballboy back in the early 90s… so they say.

As a historical comparison, this was the equivalent of battling the forces of Sauron in Mordor, racing against Casey Stoner at Phillip Island, playing Pete Sampras at Wimbledon’s Centre Court, or Rafael Nadal on a clay court in Majorca.

Or in Paris.

Predictably, the Fed Express put on a masterclass that had poor old Alex bent over a barrell and begging for mercy, winning 6-2 6-2, winning his 10th Basel title, and his 103rd career title, just 6 shy of Jimmy Connors’ record.

Then again, I question that number, because Jimmy dodged the ATP in the early 70s and won about 20 billion tournaments that Bill Riordan pretty much designed for him.

Still, as a result of his latest sustained run, ADM has cracked the ATP’s Top 20 for the first time, sitting in 18th as the Paris Masters gets underway, the last regular ATP tournament of the season before November is filled by the Tour Finals and the Davis Cup Finals.

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