Busy sporting times
By Roger Childs
There was plenty of excitement over the weekend in a mixed bag of results for New Zealand.
The All Blacks, The Breakers and The Phoenix(!) won, while the Kiwis and Maori All Blacks lost.
Meanwhile the All Whites, seeking World Cup qualification, lived to fight another day in Lima, with a nil all draw at the Caketin.
However, probably the most impressive result from the last two days, was Tonga’s win over New Zealand in the rugby league.
Joy for the small Pacific nation
This is probably the best outcome for Tongan sport since they beat France in the Rugby World Cup in 2011. Their rugby league team is very competitive and many of the players perform well in the Australia NRL competition.
The superb victory over Samoa in Hamilton the previous weekend, showed that the Kiwis were in for a competitive contest. So the historic 28-22 Tongan victory over the home team in front of their adoring, flag waving fans, was no big surprise. However it is the first time a so called “second tier” nation has beaten one of the top three.
If things had gone according to plan for the Kiwis, they would have met Australia, the favourites to take the World Cup, in the final. Now it will be a semi-final meeting.
All Blacks in a game of two halves
It was a strong first half performance against the French. With the majority of possession the New Zealanders ran in four impressive tries and with a 31-5 lead after 40 minutes they seemed to be cruising to a 50+ point win.
However you can never tell was loose cannon Sonny Bill Williams is going to do. He had played very well in the first half with a strong defensive game, plenty of accurate off-loads and a neat little kick through for Ryan Crotty to score near the posts.
Then in a moment of madness, he knocked a French cross-kick over the dead ball line, rugby league style. It’s professional foul in rugby so Sonny Bill was off with a yellow card.
This brought the French back into the match especially as referee Angus Gardiner also awarded a penalty try. This was a questionable decision, as it was very unlikely that the French player contesting for the ball with Williams would have scored.
However the home team had a welcome lift in morale and narrowed the score to 31-18. Then first half try scorer, Teddy Thomas, nearly got another which could have brought the French within 6 points, but a foot on the line denied him the score.
In the end, player of the match, Waisake Naholo, picked up a late try in the 80th minute to give the All Blacks a comfortable 38-18 win.
However it was a less than impressive performance for the team, and there is plenty to work on before the tests against Scotland and Wales.
Wins over Perth teams in basketball and soccer
We expect the Breakers to win and they invariably do. They were up against the Perth Wildcats who have been their closest rivals in recent seasons, and again this year. However, an 88-82 win gave then their seventh victory in a row, and put them well out in front at the top of the table.
The Phoenix, have had their usual mixed season. A few weeks back they seemed to be headed for their first victory of the year when they went ahead 3-0 against the Brisbane Roar, only to concede three late goals.
However on Sunday, perhaps in reaction to the All Whites not conceding a goal against Peru at the same venue the previous day, they cleaned up the Perth Glory 5-2. The Phoenix are now 7th out of ten on the table.
Is this the start of a revival? Possibly, but I wouldn’t put big money on it.