League Fans royally shafted

If you haven’t heard, there is a wedding tonight, between Prince William and Kate Middleton but there is a larger issue at work here, channel nine’s treatment of league fans.

The wedding will be everywhere, every FTA channel has coverage of the event, with multiple channels showing it, so if someone, I don’t know maybe channel nine, would broadcast something different, iunno football, they would be on a ratings bonanza.

Unfortunately not, channel nine continue the contemptible treatment of league fans. Tonight Brisbane and Canterbury will do battle at Suncorp in front of 40,000 people but many thousands more at home, will have to wait until 8:30 when Channel Nine will kindly move the wedding to GEM.

Nine could have avoided even moving the wedding, maybe putting the football onto one of their digital channels (GEM or GO!) to not anger the audience who are a main portion of channel nine’s market, league fans who have watched the football in massive numbers, breaking records this year!

Bulldogs fans have already shown their outrage, not being able to watch their team live, Anthony Magro, a member of the Bulldogs Army says Enough is Enough. Fans already have to suffer with the 9:30 game, delayed and filled with ads, stretching the broadcast out until 11:30, even losing some of their audience who are tired.

The Triple M, ” Grill Team” had head of Sport, Steve Crawley on the show this morning. This gave his network the opportunity to backflip and appease their league loving audience by playing it live but they reinforced that it’ll start at the ” special”  time of 8:30, filled with ads! yay for us. If you are a brave soul or a fan of South Sydney or Cronulla, you’ll be waiting until nearly 11 o clock to see your teams.

Compare this to the recent news, of AFL’s new TV deal, which netted them a cool 1 Billion dollars, it wasn’t only that though, it promised their fans that EVERY game on the weekend would be LIVE and four would be on FTA television.

Now, we move onto the NRL, we have three games on FTA television each weekend, with only one! LIVE and that won’t be the case this week. There has been a lot of chatter that the new TV deal will fix this but is it too deep of a hole for channel nine?

Facebook, Twitter and footy forums have exploded in outrage time and time again, with the mistreatment from channel nine, despite tough talk from Gallop “use it or lose it” or the anti-siphoning agreement, which forces FTA channels to play certain events on their SD channels LIVE.

If something isn’t done soon, channel nine WILL lose the rights to the NRL or if they do keep the rights, they will lose further games to Fox Sports who actually show games LIVE into every state in Australia.

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Save the Associates!

I know, I’m a few days late on this but blame uni and people. There has already been a lot of people, making good observations about the ICC wanting to rid the World Cup of minnows including: Cricket With Balls: God Hates Associates Claims ICC! but the most important is signing the petition to keep the “world” in the world cup: Minnows Petition

Sign it today, don’t make the World Cup a closed shop between the test playing nations, we need the Irelands, Netherlands, Afghanistans etc to keep them on their toes!

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Soaken and defeated in the Shire

Sharks fans, rain and Monday Night, they all were thrown in the mixer to create a devasating cocktail, which would leave a foul taste in all Dragons fans mouths around 9pm Monday Night, after the Cronulla Sharks triumphed 16 points to 10.

The rain had been tumbling all day, off and on but upon arriving the rain started pouring down, which turned the already yellowing grass on the hill of Shark Park turned into mud, becoming a nuisance for all the Dragons supporters and the few Sharks fan, who had a death wish standing on the hill next to them.

Onto the game, Cronulla came out like it was their grand final, they completed their sets, hit the Dragons hard and waited patiently for their opportunities, much like the Dragons did last year (so something the Telegraph wrote was correct! my word).

They waited for our mistakes and there was a serious tactic last night, of targetting Brett Morris’ wing and it worked, he dropped a bomb, which led to Pomeroy’s second try and was involved the clusterfuck, which brought on his first try too. Morris wasn’t the only one, who had a subpar game, the whole side was lacking.

There was no zip, no one willing to do the hard yards, St George looked like they thought, oh we’ll turn up and beat the Sharks but they were ambushed. The Sharks forwards bashed the Dragons, the halves gave them some kind of direction and this all resulted in a rare (hopefully) Sharks victory.

I will say though, the Sharks forward pack, will do that to more packs during the course of the season, the addition of Jeremy Smith has just made them very good but they are still lacking good halves and mostly a backline.

For the Dragons, it was a forgettable night in the wet at the worst ground in the NRL in my opinion. They will improve next week after a tough week in training and head over to New Zealand prepared to play and win.


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Irish eyes are smiling

Draw the curtain, the show is over, Ireland’s journey through the 2011 Cricket World Cup, has ended in the way it began, with some entertainment. Kevin O’Brien sent two balls into the crowd to record Ireland’s second victory of the world cup, against fellow associate Netherlands but that is only the finish of the rollercoaster, Irish fans have endured.

Ireland might have only won two matches, against Netherlands and England but unlike the associates in Group A, they fought until the end. Their first match, a game against Bangladesh in their own backyard, restricting them to 205, thanks to the spin duo of Andre Botha and one of the revelations of the World Cup thus far George Dockrell. He finished with 2/23 off 10, amazing.

Sadly, Ireland had navigated the chase so well, getting it down to needing 50 off about 90 balls but Bangladesh spun their way to victory. This loss would serve to make the Irish lads underdogs when going into a contest against a team, they had no right to beat England but we all know the story from here but a quick re-cap.

On a flat wicket, England flexed their muscles, with contributions from most of their top four, Trott to no one’s surprise, top scored for them with 92. After 50 overs, they ended with an impressive total of 327, which was not just a tall order but it was like climbing everest with only a backpack.

They were looking the part, when Porterfield was bowled off the first delivery of the match but they slowly rebuilt but losing wickets when it wasn’t needed, putting them in a perilous position of being 5 for 111 after Gary was trapped lbw to Swann. Enter the pink haired menance known as Kevin O’Brien, who signalled his intentions smashing and bashing the English bowling onto the fastest century in World Cup history, off 50 balls and importantly steering Ireland to an unlikely victory.

O’Brien didn’t finish the job though, he was run-out on 317 trying for a non-existant second run. 10 runs needed and the final bow went to John Mooney who slammed a ball to the boundary and started the massive party for Ireland, the associates had proven their worth and threw one back in the face of the ICC wanting to decrease the tournament to ten teams in 2015.

Ireland had their day in the sun, everyone gushed over the victory, sparked the debates of the associates but not Ireland, they celebrated, downed some Guiness but it was back to work, they had the chance to upset the status quo further and qualify for the quarter finals.

Next up, was the team with a billion people behind them, India who were coming off the immense tie against England. India wanted to test out their bowling, sending Ireland in to face the music. It wasn’t the best start for Ireland, much like against England, they lost Stirling and Joyce in the first few overs before Porterfield and Niall O’Brien rebuilt the innings with a hundred plus partnership.

After that partnership, there wasn’t much left with the middle to lower order scrambling around enough to get to 205, on not exactly a flat pitch but quick wickets were needed. Trent Johnson answered the call, dismissing the dangerous Sehwag after his customary four off the first ball, with a caught and ball leading into the chicken dance, he would dismiss Gambier but India would cruise to victory, with Dockrell adding to the list of young players dismissing Tendulkar the other sole bright spot.

The challenges didn’t get any easier for Ireland, they had back to back matches against the West Indies and South Africa who both batted first and posted about par totals of 275 and 272 respectively, which after Ireland chased 327 against England, looked like something the Irish lads could chase but alas it wasn’t to be, Ireland fell 44 runs short against West Indies with Ed Joyce making his first meaningful score in the tournament with 84.

Their resilience wasn’t as solid against South Africa, being blown away by the pace of Morkel before Robin Peterson, finished it off to make Ireland to slump to 141 and ending their albeit slim chance of qualfication for the quarters and leaving them to play for pride against fellow associate Netherlands in their final group game.

While in the grand scheme of things, Ireland v Netherlands wasn’t too important but it was important for both nations, to sign off the world cup in style and they didn’t disappoint. Firstly Netherlands one man wrecking crew, Ryan Ten Doeschate made his second century in the World Cup, lifting them to a imposing total of 306 for the spirited Irish to finish the World Cup with a win.

The intent of the Irish was signalled early, with Paul Stirling who went on a rampage smashing the ball to all parts, getting to his fifty off half the balls and continuing on the warpath to his century of seventy-two balls. William Porterfield proved an able partner, with Ireland getting to 177 before losing the wicket of the swashbuckling Sterling.

Input from the rest of the Irish batsmen took them past the total without much hassle and Kevin O’Brien like I stated in the opening, signed off in the World Cup with two sixes in the last over to give Ireland the victory, much like the effort against England.

While Ireland, didn’t get very far in the tournament, besides England, they were the entertainers of the World Cup, bringing interest to all their matches especially after their defeat of the evil empire known as England. They also proved there is a place for the associate nation in international cricket and it would be a crime if they were excluded from the next World Cup, the positive performances outweighed the negatives and unveiled Kevin O’Brien, Paul Stirling and George Dockrell to the world before England steal them.

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Australia’s World Cup Campaign, three games in.

So the World Cup has begun and it hasn’t been that exciting besides England, being unable to beat anyone who isn’t Netherlands. Australia have had three matches, racing a turtle in beating Zimbavwe, blowing away New Zealand to retain the Chappell-Hadley and annoyed the rain gods, thus having a match abandoned against Sri Lanka.

The pace bowling which everyone has lambasted to not be effective in sub continent conditions, has worked stunning New Zealand and the Sri Lankan top order before the game was abandoned. Though if Tait or Lee goes down, the cover now that Bollinger has gone home is John Hastings, making the fast bowling quite thin.

Batting has been solid, no one has gone on to make a big score but Shane Watson is continuing his form from the Australian summer, Michael Clarke has played himself into some form, Haddin, Ponting and White need to find some form especially once we come into the quarter/semi finals against teams who have long batting orders.

Our next game is quite a while away, next Sunday against the oldest team in the World Cup, Kenya, which SHOULD be a walk over, leaving our last two games vs Canada and Pakistan to ensure a good position as we go into the semis.

I can’t leave this post without congratulating Ireland for beating England, with Kevin O’Brien breaking Matty Hayden’s fastest ODI century record, who when asked, “didn’t expect that”. Hopefully they can sneak their way to the Quarters to further show the ICC that Associates have their place in the World Cup.

As I write this, England are in dis-a-fucking-ray against South Africa, losig three wickets for 47, all to Robin Peterson, Trott and Ravi Bopara rebuilding. Later this week, I’ll do my NRL preview, for those who care about the oval ball game.

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2011: A Brave New League World

Finally, the long season of cricket is over, watching England dominate the Ashes wasn’t the ideal way I wanted to spend my summer  though winning the ODI series 6-1 was a good way to hit back.

February always brings back the sights and sounds of rugby league, the grass being freshly cut on the fields, the ominpresent smell of beer and sweat of 20,000 crammed into a small area but mostly it brings back, my team St George Illawarra, who I can say for the first time in my lifetime, will enter the season as premiers.

It’s a strange feeling after disappointment after disappointment but also great to be able to silence all the doubters on that glorious and wet night in October, though defending your title is much harder than winning one, as no “legal” team has gone back to back since Brisbane in 1992 and 1993.

The All Stars clash tonight and the legends of origin was just to whet our whistles before the Dragons begin their title defence, tomorrow night against the Rabbitohs in the Charity Shield. Something which the Dragons have treated with not the greatest respect but that has changed this year, Dragons naming a full strength squad minus Soward and Morris.

This gives the experienced players and a chance to work out the rust and the young/new players a chance to impress the head coach and stake their claim for a spot in the starting 17. Lastly it gives the fans, their first chance to vent their anger at referees or the opposition.

Souths have to their credit also named a pretty strong lineup, making it an interesting clash to see if the Dragons can end Souths three year reign with the charity but it’ll be great to watch live rugby league again.

N.N Sorry this post was mostly scatterbrained and about St George, will have an actual predictions article up before the season begins and will be doing articles about the world cup. For my cricket blog viewers, there is Kirby Meehan (of Dustbin Cricket) and myself’s preview of Australia’s World Cup chances here: http://clearcricket.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/australia-four-peat-champions/


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Big Bash Final: The Preview

Here it is, South Australia v New South Wales, I don’t think anyone expected this to be the final when the tournament began, well I saw SA were tipped by a lot of people but besides fellow NSW fans and I being biased, no one picked NSW but they have got here on the back of some talent from the youngsters.

South Australia though, kept the majority of their side from the 2009/10 season plus adding Adil Rashid to replace Afridi, Pollard pulling them out of the fire several times but once he had packed up and left to return home, there were two SA players who stood up. In the batting “Doctor” Dan Harris who is second in the run-scoring with 256 runs at an average of 51.20 just behind David Warner who leads the way.

In the bowling, Nathan Lyon has been the find for SA, after taking three wickets in his first game vs NSW, he’s continued on, taking wickets at vital times for SA and maybe played himself into their Ryobi Cup and Shield sides.

For NSW, they have struggled all tournament with their batting, needing some spectacular batting performances from David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Ben Rohrer and in one game Steven O’Keefe to get them to this point, defending some low totals.

The story for New South Wales has been a teenage prospect from Penrith, Patrick Cummins who is leading the wicket-taking for the Big Bash despite not playing all the games but bowling 145+km at 17 isn’t something to be sneezed at and that was emphasised when he ripped through Tasmania’s top order in the preliminary final. There has been some very good support from Stuart Clark who is always singing from the same songsheet, Henriques and recently Thornley has brought NSW to this point.

Now to who’ll win, NSW will be missing two important players, batting prodigy and called the messiah by many Usman Khawaja and the man who makes the ladies swoon Steven O’Keefe meaning New South Wales will go in like most of the tournament with an inexperienced side where their strength is definitely the bowling because if Warner doesn’t come off, NSW might only make 120-140.

The bowlings strength is the different variations they can call upon, besides Clark who nags at one length but if the radar is right, South Australia’s batsmen might find it hard to score and pressure themselves into a losing situation with no Pollard to save them this time but Moises will still be bowling, so they are half a chance.

For South Australia, their side is well balanced thus neither bowling or batting is favoured but Adelaide is a spin friendly pitch, playing into South Australia’s hands as they’ll go in with three spinners (Lyons, Rashid and O’Brien) and can call upon the doctor to bowl some overs. Their batting will lack a bit, thanks to Ferguson being called into the national team but it still contains some powerful hitters, Klinger, Harris and Blizzard who is experienced in winning finals, featuring in a few of Victoria’s winning sides.

My prediction is going to sound biased but if NSW can bat first and Warner fires, they’ll post 150-160 and their bowlers should be able to defend that but if SA get Warner early, that might be game.

Probable Sides:

South Australia squad:  Michael Klinger (capt), Daniel Harris, Aiden Blizzard, James Smith, Cameron Borgas, Tom Cooper, Daniel Christian, Graham Manou (wk), Aaron O’Brien, Adil Rashid, Kane Richardson, Jake Haberfield, Nathan Lyon.

New South Wales squad David Warner, Daniel Smith (wk), Phil Jaques, Ben Rohrer, Peter Forrest, Dominic Thornely, Moises Henriques, Tim Armstrong, Sean Abbott, Scott Coyte, Luke Doran, Stuart Clark (capt), Patrick Cummins.

Go blues!

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