Stuff all this other crap, let’s talk about the footy
Righto, so when you sift the weekend’s sport through the fine strainer, there were pretty much only two big stories.
In the AFL, the Cats beat the Pies in a see-sawing battle played in teeth-chattering, Antarctic conditions on Friday night at the MCG. Teeth-chattering for the Geelong fans anyway. More like gum-chattering for the Collingwood fans.
In the NRL, there were upsets galore. The bottom team beat the second top team, while the second bottom team beat the third team. Why does this never happen in the AFL? Why is league more unpredictable? And will anyone ever beat superhorse Black Caviar? Ah, conundrums, conundrums…
Back to the AFL. The vibe in Melbourne this year has been that Collingwood might go the season undefeated. Well, the best they can do now is to emulate Essendon circa 2000, who lost just one game to J Gillard’s favourite team, the Bulldogs, en route to the flag.
But let’s not focus on the Pies. They get enough press, courtesy of some bloke named Eddie. Let’s talk about the Cats, minus Gary Ablett, minus premiership coach Mark Thompson and minus the home ground advantage.
This mob was supposed to be on the decline in 2011. So here’s what they did. They got tougher. They suffocated Collingwood. They won the tackle count 82-60 and spent 59 per cent of the game in the forward half. And they squeaked home 65-62.
Ah, but too much sports reporting nowadays is statistical gobbledygook, so let’s ditch the stats and say it straight. Geelong stopped playing like pretty boys and out-Magpied the Magpies.
Now to the code people prefer to watch on TV even though the weather’s better up north. The Panthers, no doubt keen to impress new overlord Gus Gould, beat up the Broncos. And the Raiders owned the Storm in the upset of the season, thereby claiming a trophy we just invented called the Jim Morrison Cup.
Why is it that any team can win any given NRL game, while the best the AFL can come up with for an upset is the lowly Kangaroos beating the marginally less lowly Demons? Does it say something about one sport being stronger than the other?
As evidence, I’ve tipped 5.5 games per round successfully in the AFL tipping this year, but just 4.9 games per round in the NRL. Most people have a similar tale. But why?
The other big league story of the weekend was the selection of Ricky Stuart’s NSW Blues.
No Jamal Idris and no Jarryd Hayne is the big news. Hayne has been a superstar at State of Origin level. Over the years, Queensland have always picked proven Origin performers, even if they’re out of touch at club level, as Hayne is now. And the strategy has always worked. The players have magically found form in a maron jumper. Hayne should have been picked.
As for Idris, well, the bloke did just play for Australia, but he’s a bit of a turnstile in defence. I’m going to stuck my big goose neck out and say Ricky’s done a reasonable thing there.
That said, his replacement, Michael Jennings, has been average this year. But the elusive Jennings is one player who can create something out of nothing. NSW needs players like him. They cannot rely on solid performers who’ll nullify Queensland’s stars (but never do anyway). They need guys who can make things happen. Jennings is exactly that player.
None of which explains why the stodgy Michael Ennis was picked ahead of the creative Robbie Farah at hooker, but anyway…
In other sports news, super mare Black Caviar has now won the Tour de France, the Formula One world championship, the Olympic 100m sprint and a race at Doomben on the weekend. Wow. That’s 13 straight.
A poor bedraggled nag called Hay List keeps running second to Black Caviar. Full marks to Hay List’s connections for lining up week after week. They could run scared and pick the eyes out of easier races, but they keep trying to pop Black Caviar’s cherry. Racing needs battles like this, otherwise it’s a poker machine on legs.
And that’s the sports water cooler topics for this Monday. Except to say that we don’t actually have a water cooler in our office. Does anyone have a water cooler anymore or do you all have those kitchen filter taps like we have?
Wait, one more thing. We pinched the pic in this piece from the website of our stablemate, the Geelong Advertiser. Great pic, but it really needs a caption. And that’s where you guys come in… Your prize is glory.
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