Friday, July 9, 2010

This Sporting Life - 9/7/2010

It's Friday again, so that means that it's time to start thinking of the weekend; and it's a big weekend in store.

The REAL rugby season is here; all the posturing is over, and the All Blacks and Springboks go head-to-head at Eden Park tomorrow night. We'll preview the match tomorrow, but feel free to speculate here today. It should be a cracking good match.

Over the ditch the Warriors will try to keep their unbeaten-since-Si-Butch-got-knighted run going against Penrith, and the Magic are in the Grand Final of the ANZ Netball. Both are underdogs going into their matches, but a win for either, or even both wouldn't surprise.

And on Monday morning, the World Cup comes to an end. The final should be an absolutely fantastic contest, and in the absence of any predictions by Paul the Octopus, we're tipping the Dutch to prevail, possibly in extra time. Then again, if Spain was to win, the All Whites would emerge as the only unbeaten team at the tournament - how good would that be?!

So, what's all going to happen? The floor is yours ...


James Stephenson said...

I'd completely forgotten about the's all about Le Tour for me at the moment, and I'm happy to see Cav finally get a stage today. I was starting to wonder what was wrong after yesterday's fail-to-fire, not that that should stop us recognising Julian Dean's achievement in finishing 2nd to Petacchi. A bloody big "well done" is due.

It's into the Alps this weekend so we'll see the real contenders for GC emerge - more late nights!

Inventory2 said...

You're right about Julian Dean JS, and it was remiss of me not to mention him. After being hospitalised earlier in the week, it was a fantastic ride by Dean. From what I've heard and read, he was so stiff and sore that he couldn't get his butt off the seat for the final sprint. Sheesh, those guys have big tickers!

homepaddock said...

And the Ranfurly Shield challenge?

We're not expecting miracles when North Otago meets Southland tonight - all but one of the defneding team are Highlanders.

But we can dream - in 1993 for a few glorious minutes the score board read North Otago 5 - Auckland 0.

pdm said...

The rugby test is a big worry for mine. The backline alone causes concern when we remember last years performances of the same players, Carter excepted. Let me remind you:

Muliaina - Fail
Rokocoko - Fail dismally
Jane - Very good
Smith - Just adequate
Nonu - Fail Dismally
Carter - Absent injured
Cowan - Tried hard

Carter will have to be at his sublime best and it is a pity he does not have Stanley outside him.

I think the Boks by 13 and over and possibly as many as 20 points.

Very scary.

James Stephenson said...

Here's a question for you Inv - should FIFA (well ok, UEFA) drop the Champions League in World Cup years? I know they won't because there's so much money from TV rights, and the clubs likewise won't want to...but can you name a major European-based player that has been anywhere near their peak at this tournament.

Inventory2 said...

@ Ele - North Otago had better not win tonight. The mighty Wanganui team is due to travel south in a couple of weeks.

Inventory2 said...

@ pdm - the All Balcks were a major disappointment in South Africa last year. I expect them to be much more competitive this season. BTW - Sitiveni Sivivatu and Brendon Leonard started ahead of Jane and Cowan last season.

@ James - good idea, but as you say, it will never happen, for commercial reasons. On a similar line, I suggested a couple of years ago that the Tri-Nations should change, and only be played on alternate years. In one of the non-TN years, there wiould be the RWC; on the other, there would normally be a Lions tour to one of the TN participants, and there would be the opportunity for a tour involving the other two - eg Lions tour Australia; SA has a seven-match (three test) tour to NZ or vice versa. On a rotational basis, I reckon that this would work really well, and it would restore some meaning to the Tri-Nations.

James Stephenson said...

@pdm. Leaving aside a difference of opinion about Smith, I share your concerns.

I'm mystified why, when we have so many good wingers, Henry's bringing back Muliaina and playing Jane out of position on the wing...

Inventory2 said...

@ James - I had my doubts about Jane as a winger at first, but the more he plays there, the more it looks as though he was born to the role. He has fantastic aerial skills, so provides cover for whoever is at fullback, he has speed to burn, and a terrific ability to kick, chase and regather. I reckon that he has made the right wing his own now, and that Sivivatu will struggle to get back in; Jane brings so much more to the role.

I'm baffled though by the devotion to Rokocoko, although I was surprised to hear on the news last night that Josevata is only 27; he seems to have been around forever. I agree with you about Smith (and disagree with pdm); he is one of the better centres we've had in recent seasons, and is much more an old-school centre a la Bruce Robertson. He doesn't have the same physical presence as a Bunce type player. But he is key to the All Black defensive screen, and that is a role which is largely unseen. Kahui might have more physical presence than Smith, but I reckon that Smith is a far more valuable player all-round. We'll never get pdm to agree with that though!

Anonymous said...

And don't forget the pole dancing fixture between the Brazilians and the Croations in Lower Hutt. My money is on the Croations as they've turned into a really professional outfit over the past few years. The Brazilians have become a wee bit complacent I think. It is a shame NZ got knocked-up, sorry, knocked-out in the first stages as they looked to have improved a lot from the heats held in Wanganui in June. This should be a great match and one that even an Octopus will struggle to pick. Let's get behind the ladies and let them see our support. They'll certainly turn it on over the weekend and I for one hope that they are not Christian-Political types or it would be a helluva boring competition!

gravedodger said...

I2 dont worry if N. Otago take it home then it can be a focus for the real rugby fanatics in the heartland for a while until the moneymen demand to play the hicks and attempt to take it back to where it is not really appreciated.

James Stephenson said...

@I2 - I'm not saying that Jane isn't any good on the wing, but why not put Guildford, who's also in hot form, there and move Jane to FB? What's Muliaina had - a game of club rugby, and he's back to face the 'boks?

It goes without saying that Gear not being on the left is a bigger mystery than the fate of Lord Lucan...

Inventory2 said...

@ JS - I'll go into that in a bit more depth tomorow when I preview the game. I'm sure Muliaina will be better for the Wales match. I gather he was supposed to be pulled at 50m, but when Stanley got a twinge, that plan had to change.

gravedodger said...

My views on what I see as limitations with Maa Nonu's abilities give me doubts and the saffas a game plan.
My back three are Hosea Gear Israel Dagg and Cory Jane with Mills on the Bench. This is when the World cup squad will be set up barring injury and I do not share the sentiment that Rokokoko is going to be there. The theory that he is the quickest in the squad is open to question when related to his speed with ball in hand and his chase when compared to both Jane and Guildford in the lead up tests.
Winning this tri-nations must be put in perspective with the world cup squad development entering its decision stage.
I see Rene Ranger, Hosea Gear and Benson Stanley as players who need all the time left to be integrated into our World Cup squad and time is passing.

gravedodger said...

I note that we are fielding our oldest ever ever backline tomorrow night at a total of 195 years and Joe is the youngest. That really is a surprise when one recalls we have won the last three world youth series, where the bloody hell are ya, comes to mind.
The previous oldest going back to 1903 was 4th test in SA 1976 and we all know what happened then.
So much for rebuilding
Of course we all live longer now don't we

Anonymous said...

Andy Haden is a good sport. He tells it like it is. How it used to be should never have changed. RUGBY!

pdm said...

Iv2 I will take the bait - Smith compared to Bruce Robertson. Sorry he is hardly fit to do his boots up. Robertson had acceleration, great passing skills including the now sadly lacking ability to draw a man and set up his outsides. In short Robertson was all class Smith is a tradesman at best. Kahui reminds me more of Robertson - if only he would stay fit.

As far as fullback is concerned Dagg is the form player and while I have a bias here the combination of Dagg and Guilford has been a very , very effective one for the last two seasons. Why are they not playing together?

pdm said...

On the Boks - they are a few players down on last year. Fourie du Preez will be their biggest loss, but no Francois Steyn at fullback or Bismark du Preez will also reduce their firepower.

Having said that Smit is a leader second to none in world rugby and obviously the brains of the outfit.

de Villiers brain explosions continue - how could you move the best midfielder in world rugby Jan de Villiers to the wing, especially with Aplon in the squad. J de Villiers should be at 12 and Aplon on the wing where he was hugely impressive against France.

One further thing re the AB's- god forbid Cowan gets injured early. I would hate to see Weepu holding the fort for 60 minutes or more. At least Cowan will `give his guts' until the final whistle.