Thank you for your company today/tonight. It’s been a long old ride, but a fun one.
Port Adelaide demand honours for team of the day, but the Knights v Storm clash was my favourite contest, while the return of a proper crowd for Super Rugby Aotearoa brought a lump to my throat.
It’s good to have some footy back, isn’t it?
Let’s do this all again soon. Cheerio!
AFL: Suns 14.6 (90) beat Eagles 6.10 (46)
A huge upset result for Gold Coast against West Coast. A possible turning point for the beleaguered club too with the emergence of Matt Rowell.
AFL: Power 17.8 (110) beat Crows 5.5 (35)
This was a contest for ten minutes. Thereafter it was a procession, a glorious one for Port Adelaide fans who saw their young team playing with incredible verve. An absolute stinker of a night for the Crows. The Showdown has a new record margin of victory.
AFL: Q4: 7 mins remaining: Suns 13.6 (84) v Eagles 6.8 (44) - In other AFL news, the Suns are home and hosed. 18-year-old Matt Rowell sounds like he’s been best on ground with two goals, six tackles and 23 possessions.
AFL: Q4: 10 mins remaining: Power 15.8 (98) v Crows 5.4 (34) - Adelaide continue to front up, which is to their credit. A name check for young Fogarty on this score who must be on his third guernsey of the night after persistently putting his body on the line, ending up in a few scrapes along the way. Meanwhile, Dixon kicks his second and Power continue their march to a few months of loud bragging. There’ll be a few Crows fans hoping for the retention of social distancing measures a little longer after this.
Indeed, I might start winding this up over the final quarter. Forgive the lack of goal-by-goal reports. (Brad Crouch just got one at the start of the final quarter, by the way.)
AFL: 3QT: Suns 11.4 (70) v Eagles 6.8 (44) - The Suns remain on course for a huge and unlikely victory. After scoring just 29 points in the opening round of the season they are leading the highly-fancied Eagles with a bit to spare heading into the final quarter.
AFL: 3QT: Power 14.7 (91) v Crows 4.3 (27) - Anyone for the mercy rule?
AFL: Q3: 1 min remaining: Power 14.7 (91) v Crows 4.3 (27) - Is that the start of a late comeback? No chance. Duursma kicks his third after more Power midfield mauling.
Rory Sloane is now iced up on the bench resting that corked hip.
AFL: Q3: 3 mins remaining: Power 13.7 (85) v Crows 4.3 (27) - Perhaps the low point of the night for Port Adelaide. Robbie Gray has just hit the post from 15m out on the run unopposed. Adelaide then go coast to coast to snap a nine-goal streak against them.
NRL: Tigers 6-14 Raiders
They were made to work for it, especially in the first half when Wests defended doggedly (or tigerishly), but the Raiders came through in the second-half, helped in no small part by Russell Packer’s sin-binning.
Canberra join Melbourne, who won earlier today, on four wins, leading the chse of the unbeaten Eels.
AFL: Q3: 6 mins remaining: Power 13.5 (83) v Crows 3.3 (21) - Training ground stuff from the Power now, players streaming forward at pace, confident the clearance will be theirs (it is) and knowing a forward will present (they do). Justin Westhoff bags the latest goal.
AFL: Q3: 8 mins remaining: Power 12.5 (77) v Crows 3.2 (20) - Motlop gets another, mopping up after Marshall brought the ball to ground then dancing around a couple of hapless Crows. This cannot end soon enough for Adelaide.
AFL: Q3: 11 mins remaining: Power 11.5 (71) v Crows 3.2 (20) ... and now a speccy from Steven Motlop that he honours with a 45m set shot from the right boundary line. Boy oh boy. As a two-parter, that must be a goal of the year contender.
AFL: Q3: 13 mins remaining: Power 10.5 (65) v Crows 3.2 (20) - Dixon goals. Sloane has a nasty cork to his right hip. This is turning into a dream night for Port Adelaide.
It’s as though Port are playing on a different speed setting to the Crows tonight. Despite what must have been a fearsome half-time address from Matthew Nicks Adelaide are just struggling to keep up.
AFL: Q3: 15 mins remaining: Power 9.4 (58) v Crows 3.2 (20) - Duursma smashes in a goal from point blank range seconds after the restart. This could get very ugly very quickly for the Crows.
AFL: Second-half underway at Adelaide Oval.
NRL: 60 mins: Tigers 6-12 Raiders - An Mbye penalty milks some of that sin-bin time off the clock and brings the Tigers back within a score.
Spot on, exuberance is exactly what’s so much fun about these Power kids.
NRL: 55 mins: Tigers 4-12 Raiders - Russell Packer hasn’t played for 12 months, and it’s an unhappy return for the big man. He’s binned for ten minutes for interfering with a play-the-ball, and from the resulting penalty Canberra use their man advantage to kick early in the set and allow the flying Cotric to dive over unopposed in the right corner. A brilliant touchline conversion extends the lead to 8 points.
After all that backs to the wall defence in the opening half the game is slipping away from the Tiges.
NRL: 51 mins: Tigers 4-6 Raiders - Jack Wighton has finally breached the resolute Wests Tigers defence, picking the tiniest of gaps and bulldozing his way to the line.
AFL: HT: Suns 6.2 (38) v Eagles 5.5 (35) - The Golden boys continue to surprise the Eagles in the battle of the Coasts.
AFL: HT: Power 8.4 (52) v Crows 3.2 (20) - One-way traffic in the Showdown. A big half-time break for the Crows.
AFL: Q2: 2 mins remaining: Power 8.4 (52) v Crows 3.2 (20) - I am thoroughly enjoying watching Port Adelaide tonight. Their energy and intent is a coach’s dream. Some of the ball skills need polishing, but the desperation around the ground is something to behold.
Another 50m gift, this time to Boak after some needless lip following the award of a free-kick on the arc, extends the lead to 32 points.
AFL: Q2: 5 mins remaining: Power 7.4 (46) v Crows 3.1 (19) - Unfortunately for Crows fans the opposite of all the effervescent and brio is is true for their side. Power are gifted another goal after yet another entry inside 50 ends with a free-kick, upgraded to a 50m penalty and a walk-in goal for Brad Ebert, sporting a natty head bandage.
AFL: Q2: 6 mins remaining: Power 6.4 (40) v Crows 3.1 (19) - Smooth from Butters, volleying a bouncing, skidding ball from 20m out straight through the big sticks. There is a vibrancy and freedom in Port Adelaide that is glorious to watch. They have drafted some terrific young players and they are loving their football. This does feel like the start of something very fun for Power fans.
AFL: Q2: 7 mins remaining: Power 5.4 (34) v Crows 3.1 (19) - Duursma adds a bit more reality to the scoreboard, fed by - who else - Rozee, bursting out the side of a stoppage like Chris Judd.
AFL: Q2: 8 mins remaining: Power 4.4 (28) v Crows 3.1 (19) - Ha! Wouldn’t you know it, Adelaide kick the next goal. The Crouchs combine for a rare clearance that sets up Lynch to hammer the ball forward. Once there the Crows keep it inside 50 successfully, eventually channelling the ball out to Brodie Smith who snaps superbly from 40m out high into the South Australian sky.
AFL: Q2: 10 mins remaining: Power 4.4 (28) v Crows 2.1 (13) - Adelaide haven’t been allowed to settle at all so far tonight, Port’s midfield and small forwards are buzzing like angry hornets, turning up the intensity to 11. There’s a lack of class with ball in hand, for now, but you sense once the dam breaks Power could run away with this comfortably.
AFL: Q2: 13 mins remaining: Power 4.4 (28) v Crows 2.1 (13) - Zak Butters misses on the narrow side from a set shot after neat build up play from Gray and Ebert.
Bad news for the Crows with Jake Kelly ruled out for the night with concussion.
AFL: Q2: 14 mins remaining: Power 4.3 (27) v Crows 2.1 (13) - Rozee already has five clearances to his name and that ability to get first hands on the footy is something the Crows are going to have to figure out if they’re going to get a foothold in this contest. It’s all crash and bash and suiting Port’s hustle at the moment.
Thanks Dr Rudi, I’ll take you up on that. I shall remain a sceptic until then. I’ll leave you with this.
NRL: 33 mins: Tigers 4-0 Raiders - A low scoring affair in the final NRL clash of the night.
AFL: QT: Suns 2.0 (12) v Eagles 1.4 (10) - An unexpected scoreline in Queensland with the Suns edging the Eagles at the first break.
AFL: QT: Power 4.2 (26) v Crows 2.1 (13) - Breathless stuff at Adelaide Oval, but the longer it went on the better Port Adelaide looked.
AFL: Q1: 1 min remaining: Power 4.2 (26) v Crows 2.1 (13) - It’s all Port Adelaide now, Justin Westhoff getting in on the act after good hands from Daniel Motlop. Motlop received the ball after the Power were hungrier at the breakdown following good work overhead by Dixon. They are eager beavers Port Adelaide tonight.
AFL: Q1: 2 mins remaining: Power 3.2 (20) v Crows 2.1 (13) - Two in a minute for the Power who are starting to make their ascendancy around the ground tell on the scoreboard. 21-year-old Marshall with his second of the night after more good work from Rozee. Rozee is some player.
AFL: Q1: 3 mins remaining: Power 2.2 (14) v Crows 2.1 (13) - It’s still chaotic with neither side getting any time in possession and skill errors plaguing the spectacle. Port Adelaide are enjoying an increasing territorial advantage though and it eventually tells when 20-year-old Connor Rozee spins and snaps from 30m out after one of the many melees.
AFL: Q1: 7 mins remaining: Power 1.1 (7) v Crows 2.0 (12) - It’s still frantic out there and at this pace it’s inevitable there are turnovers and skill errors aplenty. Port Adelaide are starting to build, Motlop and Gray getting their hands on the footy in midfield, but neither side has established a pattern as yet.
AFL: Q1: 9 mins remaining: Power 1.1 (7) v Crows 2.0 (12) - Port hit back quickly, Todd Marshall sharking in the goal square after leaning his man under the ball from a massive bomb inside-50.
AFL: Q1: 10 mins remaining: Power 0.1 (1) v Crows 2.0 (12) - Adelaide have definitely settled quicker. Sloane again finds the ball, this time on the right flank, and he delivers onto the chest of Darcy Fogarty and the big forward thumps the set shot home from 50m. He is a solid unit young Fogarty, built like a cruiserweight, and he needs those broad shoulders to carry Mark Ricciuto’s #32 on his back.
AFL: Q1: 11 mins remaining: Power 0.1 (1) v Crows 1.0 (6) - Rory Sloane kicks the first major of the night. Fogarty contests a Walker inside-50, bringing it to ground and from the crumbs an onrushing Sloane finds a yard of space and dribbles the Sherrin into the unguarded goal.
AFL: Q1: 12 mins remaining: Power 0.1 (1) v Crows 0.0 (0) - Still a scorching hot footy with neither side stringing any chains of possession together. Adelaide have come the closest but after Walker did well bringing the ball to ground at the top of the square Port Adelaide smothered any resulting danger.
AFL: Q1: 15 mins remaining: Power 0.0 (0) v Crows 0.0 (0) - Frantic stuff to begin with. Very very hot footy. Who can settle quickest?
The few hundred Port fans are belting out Never Tear Us Apart, a sublime song, not for me as a pregame pump up though. Someone convince me I’m wrong.
While I’m on this riff, is there a worse pregame crowd-lifter than Melbourne City’s appropriation of Happy Together by The Turtles?
The teams are out in the middle of Adelaide Oval, Port in their Eddie McGuire-baiting prison bar guernsey. There are a few hundred fans in attendance in South Australia, so there is something resembling an atmosphere.
Ok, I’ve made myself a cuppa, now it’s time to turn our attention to the Showdown between Port Adelaide and Adelaide. This will be the focus for the remainder of the night with updates from Gold Coast v West Coast and Wests Tigers v Canberra along the way.
NRL: Knights 12-26 Storm
Huge win on the road for Melbourne, set up by a brilliant first half and a nuggety second, one that contained no little good fortune when it mattered at the death.
NRL: 78 mins: Knights 12-26 Storm - It’s all going Melbourne’s way now. A slow set ends with a Munster kick returning his way for a repeat set, and from that Brandon Smith forces his way over the line from close range like a supercharged wombat, with three Knights hanging off him for company. Cameorn Smith continues his flawless record with the boot. Game over.
NRL: 75 mins: Knights 12-20 Storm - Storm have controlled the past few minutes and they’re winding down the clock professionally. Minimising risk and errors. The Knights think they have an opening when Melbourne concede a turnover deep in Newcastle territory but Smith is straight in with a captain’s challenge and the decision is overturned and brought back to centre field for an off the ball hit by Klemmer on Finucane. This time the veteran elects to take the shot at goal and Storm move eight points clear. That was a huge moment.
NRL: 72 mins: Knights 12-18 Storm - Melbourne earn a repeat set and cycle the ball through plenty of hands but with Vunivalu in space outside him Papenhuyzen spills the ball in contact and the Knights breathe a sigh of relief.
NRL: 70 mins: Knights 12-18 Storm - Oh my! Melbourne look certain to score, Vunivalu bursting down the right then kicking smartly infield only for the bounce of the ball to wrong-foot Cameron Smith. The ball gets recycled back to the right wing where Vunivalu is again waiting to cross for four points but he slips and Lee flies into him conceding an unfortunate high tackle. Smith rejects the option of a shot at goal.
NRL: 67 mins: Knights 12-18 Storm - Melbourne look rattled this second half, typified by Vunivalu occupying dummy half on the right wing on the fifth tackle with no obvious receiver. Do the Knights have enough to pierce the Storm defence one more time?
NRL: 62 mins: Knights 12-18 Storm - Here we go! The Knights are storming back into this in the second half. Superb from Ponga 10m out creating space on the left wing where Edrick Lee dives over after the ball goes smartly through hands. Ponga adds the extras from the touchline.
There are walking wounded all over Central Coast Stadium with players from both sides struggling to remain upright. Cracking finish in store.
Super Rugby: Highlanders 28 - 27 Chiefs - A banner night for Super Rugby Aotearoa ends with Bryn Gatland landing a drop-goal at the death to deny the Chiefs, and dad Warren, the win.
AFL: Carlton 7.11 (53) lose to Melbourne 8.6 (54)
The Demons survive, by a point, after leading by 32 at quarter-time. Heartbreak for Carlton.
NRL: 54 mins: Knights 6-18 Storm - I turn away from the rugby league for a second and Newcastle score, Bradman Best chasing a kick-through down in the left corner and touching over - just - that took the TMO an age to confirm there was no knock-on. Ponga misses the conversion.
AFL: 4Q: 3 mins remaining Carlton 7.11 (53) v Melbourne 8.6 (54) - Melbourne sneak one behind ahead again.
AFL: 4Q: 5 mins remaining Carlton 7.11 (53) v Melbourne 8.5 (53) - Scores are level! Jack Martin hits the post with a set shot. What is going on at Marvel Stadium!?
AFL: 4Q: 6 mins remaining Carlton 7.10 (52) v Melbourne 8.5 (53) Patrick Cripps has just taken a huge contested mark and nailed the set shot from 40m. This is wild!
NRL: 50 mins: Knights 2-18 Storm - The Knights are stepping up the pace and earn a repeat set on the Storm line after Vunivalu fumbles a bomb. Their halves can’t seem to make the right decision under pressure though, playing into trouble with spaces begging left and right until Pearce spills a shocking pass over his right shoulder.
NRL: 45 mins: Knights 2-18 Storm - It’s been all Newcastle in the second half and it took a superb tackle - man and ball on Tuala - from Addo-Carr to keep the Knights try-less. Three or four Newcastle players are clearly playing hurt, but for now they’re battling on.
AFL: 4Q: 12 mins remaining Carlton 5.8 (38) v Melbourne 8.5 (53) Carlton couldn’t, could they?
Back underway in the big NRL clash, while the AFL contest between Carlton and Melbourne is into its closing stages, and the Blues have just kicked a goal!
AFL: 3QT: Carlton 4.6 (30) v Melbourne 8.5 (53) The Blues are back in this contest after outscoring the Demons 4.6 to 3.3 since quarter-time. They remain at arm’s length thanks to some Christian Petracca brilliance near the interval.
NRL: HT: Knights 2-18 Storm - A vintage half from Melbourne Storm, practically flawless in defence and patient in attack, converting weight of possession into three converted tries. Cameron Smith excelled, conducting his side one way then the other, laying on a brace of tries with expertly timed passes.
The Knights kept their heads up and could easily have shipped more points. They also profited from a penalty on the siren to get on the board.
AFL: Ok, so maybe I went early on this one. I’m sure there’s plenty of Dees fans shaking their heads knowing it was too good to be true.
NRL: 35 mins: Knights 0-18 Storm - The Knights have defended desperately for 20 minutes but the dam breaks again. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui secures his maiden try, hitting the line at pace on an angle, scything through what was left of Newcastle’s defence just five metres out. Again, it was Smith orchestrating play, timing his pass from dummy half to perfection.
NRL: 30 mins: Knights 0-12 Storm - Melbourne have stepped up a level and Newcastle are clinging on by their fingernails. Papenhuyzen, Munster and Smith are sending the Knights one way then the other, and whenever they hand the ball over it’s regained in the blink of an eye. Big test towards half-time for Newcastle.
NRL: 25 mins: Knights 0-12 Storm - Vintage Suliasi Vunivalu! The Storm pound their way through the middle of the ground until Cameron Smith spots his flying right winger one-on-one out wide and the Fijian takes full advantage, stepping inside from a standing start and dashing the ten metres to the line, dragging a couple of Knights with him, including Edrick Lee, who was left for dead by Suli’s step.
Smith backs up his beautiful assist with a touchline conversion.
NRL: 21 mins: Knights 0-6 Storm - Miraculous double save from Papenhuyzen, first stopping Ponga one-on-one on his line then capturing an awkwardly bouncing Pearce dribbler. There is a bristling intensity to this one.
NRL: 17 mins: Knights 0-6 Storm - After surviving an almighty effort from the Storm the Knights have responded well. A try in the right corner went begging after the crucial pass following the capture of a high kick went astray, then Saifiti burst clear to set up good field position only for a soft turnover on the Melbourne line to undo the good work.
NRL: 13 mins: Knights 0-6 Storm - Four sets in a row from the Storm who are playing smart footy, doing the simple things well, using their forwards to hit up hard then looking to Munster and Papenhuyzen to probe around the edges. Munster has kicked superbly so far, using his grubbers to force the Knights to concede repeat sets in their in-goal. The Knights are defending stoutly though, withstanding some serious pressure. Newcastle will get great encouragement after emerging form that barrage unscathed.
NRL: 9 mins: Knights 0-6 Storm - It’s been a pretty conservative forward-heavy start to this contest with both sides happy to drive up the guts for the most part, that one Storm try-scoring break aside.
AFL: HT: Carlton 2.5 (17) v Melbourne 7.4 (46) Despite a couple of Carlton goals in the shadow of half-time this is an ugly shellacking. Expect plenty of heat on the Blues this week in the pressure cooker of Victorian footy media.
NRL: 3 mins: Knights 0-6 Storm - What a try from the Storm! It was a solid opening few sets from both teams before Munster set a play in motion down the left wing that ended with Addo-Carr kicking neatly infield towards the posts where a flying Ryley Jacks catches the Knights defence napping, touching down with a full length dive ahead of Herman Ese’ese.
NRL: The second contest of the day is imminent with the Knights hosting the Storm in front of a smattering of fans at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford.
AFL: 2Q: 10 mins remaining: Carlton 0.1 (1) v Melbourne 5.3 (33) The Blues are on the board... with a behind.
Carlton have reported that Nic Newman has suffered a patella tendon injury and will be assessed during the week.
Super Rugby: 6 mins: Highlanders 3-0 Chiefs It’s hard to turn away from the Rugby, what with its crowd in the stands and authentic human reactions pouring through the speakers. I am very jealous of those Dunedinites.
Rugby: But while there’s reason to celebrate across the water, Australian rugby is fighting for its life, as Bret Harris reports.
There is speculation Fox Sports initially wanted RA to pay for the broadcast of the domestic Super Rugby competition themselves, but then relented and offered a much reduced deal, which RA had no choice but to accept.
It is understood RA has assured the Super Rugby clubs they will be economically viable for the rest of this year, but what about next year and the year after that?
Whatever deal has been done to enable the game to survive 2020 and the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, it is only the entrée before the main course, which is the next broadcast deal from 2021 to 2025.
Rugby: While we’re in rugby territory, this is a nice read on Sam Kane, the new All Blacks captain.
Like former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who learned his craft on the pastoral planes of the Mackenzie Country, the freshly appointed Cane’s rural background has become a fundamental part of his present day. He is quick to credit his farming upbringing for fostering the work ethic and readiness to “walk the talk” that he has brought from his days as a prodigious 20-year-old talent pulling on the black jersey in in 2012, to one the most coveted positions in New Zealand leadership.
Super Rugby: There are some speeches pregame in Dunedin, celebrating the return of live sport, commemorating those that have lost their lives in the pandemic, and thanking the frontline workers. True to form they are note perfect, treading just the right side of grandstanding. Kiwis have every right to be proud of their efforts right now.
AFL: QT: Carlton 0.0 (0) v Melbourne 5.2 (32) I’m sure Blues fans won’t mind me overlooking this one after all. Carlton have gone scoreless in the opening quarter against Melbourne and Nic Newman has left the ground on a stretcher.
The Blues have no marks inside-50, they’re operating at just 60% disposal efficiency, and they have 15 clangers from just 69 possessions. Jayden Hunt is the only multiple goalkicker, while Christian Petracca leads the way with ten touches.
Super Rugby: Oh my. I’ve just turned over to Super Rugby Aotearoa and the sight of a ground with more than a handful of fans has made me choke up. Onya New Zealand. Highlanders v Chiefs from Dunedin kicks off shortly.
NRL: Rabbitohs 32-12 Titans
South Sydney had to beat Gold Coast today and kickstart their 2020 campaign, and they did. Moreover, in doing so they demonstrated how potent their abundance of talented backs could prove as the season progresses. Latrell Mitchell was instrumental from fullback, Dane Gagai snagged a brace on the wing and Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker probed dangerously in the halves.
They didn’t have it all their own way though. The Titans had the game on their terms after about the 30-minute mark but they were unable to convert that dominance into points. Instead, some Mitchell magic iced the game late on.
NRL: 75 mins: Rabbitohs 32-12 Titans: Latrell Mitchell take a bow. The fullback has iced this one for the Rabbitohs, creating Dane Gagai’s second try of the day with a beautiful step off his left foot to send his right winger over in the corner. Reynolds continues his superb kicking day with another beauty from the whitewash. Harsh on the Titans, but that ability to manipulate space within inches of the try line is what has separated the two teams this afternoon.
The Dockers nearly snuck it, but they always felt like they were chasing the game once Charlie Cameron caught fire early on. It was another example of how fast these restart rounds are proving. I wonder how long that will last?
NRL: 71 mins: Rabbitohs 26-12 Titans: Jaydn Su’A is on report for a bone shuddering hit on Sam Lisone that replays confirm was a smidgen shoulder-chargey.
NRL: 69 mins: Rabbitohs 26-12 Titans: End to end now at Bankwest Stadium where Tatola is held up over the line after struggling to hold onto the ball with a try at his mercy. Time running out for the Titans.
NRL: 67 mins: Rabbitohs 26-12 Titans: Now it’s Gold Coasts’s turn to have the TMO rule against them with Bryce Cartwright’s effort ruled out for a knock-on by Don in the aftermath of a high kick towards the right corner.
AFL: Carlton v Melbourne is about to get underway at Marvel Stadium. I’m going to level with you all, I’m not going to follow that one closely. In an eight-hour shift of live sport watching, something’s got to give, and I’m afraid that’s not going to get my full attention.
NRL: 63 mins: Rabbitohs 26-12 Titans: Dane Gagai crosses in the right corner but it’s ruled out by the TMO for an inside-10 offside call against Junior Tatola.
NRL: 60 mins: Rabbitohs 26-12 Titans: The past half-hour or so has been all Gold Coast but they remain unable to pressure Souths on the scoreboard. More than once this half they’ve looked destined to score int he right corner only to fluff their lines at the last minute. For the Rabbits, the free-flowing attacking footy of the opening half has been replaced by backs to the wall storm-weathering.
NRL: 50 mins: Rabbitohs 26-12 Titans: Meanwhile in the NRL the Gold Coast have started the second term brightly and they have reduced the deficit to 14 points.
AFL: Brisbane 12.9 (81) beat Fremantle 10.9 (69)
Agonising for Fremantle who clung on throughout an exhausting final quarter, but after Michael Walters’ brilliance edged them in sight of victory they didn’t have enough in the tank to get across the line. Instead, Dayne Zorko put the result beyond doubt with just second remaining for Brisbane’s first win of the season.
The superstars all stood up with Neale, Fyfe, Walters and Cameron dominating the stats sheet.
AFL: Q4: 1 min remaining: Brisbane 11.9 (75) v Fremantle 10.9 (69) Brisbane very cannily chewed up some time then banged the ball inside 50 where Tom Berry on debut floated with the flight to take a spectacular mark, redolent of Nick Riewoldt or Jonathan Brown in their primes. Ooooh, instead of icing the game all he can do is snag a point!
AFL: Q4: 3.30 mins remaining: Brisbane 11.7 (73) v Fremantle 10.9 (69): Fyfe, to Walters, goal! Just a kick in it now at the Gabba! Fremantle have refused to give in and Michael Walters has willed himself through a sea of exhausted bodies to impose himself on this contest. Grandstand finish in store.
AFL: Q4: 5 mins remaining: Brisbane 11.7 (73) v Fremantle 9.8 (62): Here we go! Michael Walters has lit up the Gabba with some superb individual skill. First he gobbled up a chaos ball and offloaded it with the quickest of hands, then he spun around to accept the return handball before kicking a vital goal across his body from the left forward pocket. Terrific play that keeps this one alive at the death.
Motorsport: Bad news continues to stalk F1 with the announcement of further Covid-19 related cancelations to the 2020 calendar.
But Lewis Hamilton has enhanced his reputation during lockdown, the Englishman becoming increasingly outspoken on issues of race and inequality, as Andrew Lawrence reports.
Given the wide array of sports figures that have engaged in the broader conversation around racial inequality since Floyd’s brutal murder, from Michael Jordan to Tiger Woods, doubtless some will be seduced into thinking that Hamilton is just hopping on the bandwagon – or worse: doing it for clout. But the unimpeachable truth is, Hamilton has kept this same energy his whole career. Where Woods runs from race, famously describing himself as “Cablinasian”, Hamilton is unequivocal. “I don’t wrestle with race at all; I’m black,” Hamilton told me when I profiled him for Sports Illustrated during the 2015 United States Grand Prix. “When I arrive here, I don’t feel different, but I know I am different.” Where Jordan famously “joked” that “Republicans buy sneakers, too” as explanation for not publicly supporting a black mayor’s historic Senate campaign in his home state of North Carolina, Hamilton never drives his Merc out of the paddock without first slipping on an outsize, over-colored helmet with the phrase “Still I Rise” scrawled on the back. I wondered, Was that a Maya Angelou shoutout? “Nah, bruv,” he quipped, flashing that trademark gapped-tooth smirk. “That’s Tupac.”
AFL: Q4: 10 mins remaining: Brisbane 11.5 (71) v Fremantle 8.8 (56): Freo are pushing hard in this final quarter but they’ve so far been unable to impose themselves on the scoreboard. This one is becoming a little tighter and more stoppage heavy, which suits Brisbane with their slender lead.
Who wants some golf news?
NRL: HT: Rabbitohs 26-6 Titans: Gold Coast enjoyed a good spell in the ten minutes or so leading up to half-time but they were unable to turn it into points. Instead, Souths extended their lead by a couple after Adam Reynolds accepted an easy penalty just seconds before the hooter. That was exactly the half the Bunnies required after their difficult start to 2020. They’re clearly a work in progress, but with such a mercurial set of backs they will generate reams of highlights this season.
Cricket: This is a lovely read from Ali Martin on the origins of the West Indian cricket anthem Rally, which will be heard on their tour of England, beginning in July.
Rally hit the sweet spot in a different way, its rousing lyrics and tropical melody becoming such a favourite at Test venues across the Caribbean over the decade following its release that when the West Indies board searched for an anthem before a series against Australia in 1999, there was only ever one winner.
AFL: 3QT: Brisbane 11.5 (71) v Fremantle 8.5 (53): Brisbane will take a handy lead into the final interval but, not for the first time today, a Nat Fyfe goal near the siren has kept the Dockers alive. Fyfe (3.1 from 20 disposals) and Lachie Neale (2.0 from 20) are having their own private duel for best on ground.
NRL: 24 mins: Rabbitohs 24-6 Titans: Every time the Rabbitohs attack they look like they’re going to score. Their backs are just too skilful, too quick, and too creative for the Titans in this mood. Braidon Burns is the latest to add his name to the scoresheet, and like the Mitchell try earlier there’s a bit of fortune involved when a juggle lands his way after chasing the latest dangerous grubber from one of his halfbacks.
This is the 16th game in a row the titans have conceded at least 20 points. We’re only one quarter through this one.
NRL: 20 mins: Rabbitohs 18-6 Titans: Another one for Souths! More excellent play by the Bunny backs, Latrell Mitchell in particular, creates the opportunity for the quicksilver Dane Gagai to cross in the right corner. The latest in a series of superb conversions sails through the uprights.
AFL: Q3 10 mins remaining: Brisbane 10.2 (62) v Fremantle 7.4 (46) The goals continue to rain at the Gabba with Brisbane extending their half-time lead. Not for the first time in his career Lachie Neale is having a day out with two goals and 18 touches already.
In poorer news for Brisbane, big Stefan Martin has left the ground with a knee injury and he looks unlikely to return today.
NRL: 12 mins: Rabbitohs 12-6 Titans: It’s try time again at Bankwest and Souths are back in front. Following a delay for a failed captain’s challenge by the Titans, the Rabbitohs attacked down the left, Cody Walker clipped a grubber into the corner where Alex Johnston completed the simple task of collecting and grounding the ball unopposed.
NRL: 8 mins: Rabbitohs 6-6 Titans: Gold Coast hit back quickly, Phillip Sami rounding off a straightforward move through hands to the right wing where the fullback backed his strength against a couple of Rabbitohs defenders. Ashley Taylor turns four into six with a magnificent kick from the right touchline.
NRL: 4 mins: Rabbitohs 6-0 Titans: Of course, that previous post means the Bunnies immediately score, and who else but the maligned Mitchell. The fullback profited from a juggle that wrong-footed the Titans’ defence after he hit the line at speed, spilling the initial pass. Mitchell’s first try in the green and red hoops.
NRL: We’re underway at Bankwest Stadium where the Rabbitohs dare not lose to the Titans. It’s not started well for the Bunnies though with Latrell Mitchell belting the kick-off out on the full then seeing Gold Coast’s Anthony Don inches away from pulling down a bomb into the right corner.
A sidenote: Jai Arrow’s hairstyle has to be seen to be believed. He needs the Jonathan Van Ness treatment and soon.
Cricket: We may have heard the last of Geoffrey Boycott’s, grandma, auntie and their sticks of rhubarb on a live cricket broadcast after the veteran Englishman was not offered a new contract by the BBC last week. Andy Bull wrote a coruscating column asking why it took Test Match Special so long to cut ties with such a controversial figure.
Boycott is right, it is a surprise he lasted as long at the BBC as he did. A surprise he lasted 22 years after he was convicted of assaulting Margaret Moore. A surprise he lasted nine years after he appeared to make fun of Michael Yardy’s mental health on air – “He must have been reading my comments about his bowling,” he said when Yardy pulled out of the 2011 World Cup because he was struggling with depression. “I’m sorry he’s not good enough at this level.” And a surprise he lasted three years after he said he should “black me face” to get the knighthood he was so sure he deserved, because the honour was “handed out like confetti” to West Indian players.
Former teammate and colleague Vic Marks offered some balance.
While some revelled in his bombast about Brexit, the honours system or uncovered wickets, I enjoyed chatting to him about his early days and was increasingly struck by the warmth and respect he showed when recalling some of his peers. Players such as Brian Close and, in the end, Fred Trueman, with whom he had a few fierce arguments over the years, and his old opening partner for England, Bob Barber, who, he gratefully noted, “looked after me at the start”. Believe it or not, he has mellowed a bit.
AFL: HT: Brisbane 8.2 (50) v Fremantle 7.3 (45) Nat Fyfe was barely sighted in a quiet opening half until he sparked Fremantle into life with his first goal, midway through the second quarter, then he showed his true colours, eventually keeping the Dockers in touch with his second in the shadow of the siren. Otherwise the Lions enjoyed the upper hand courtesy of Charlie Cameron’s 4.1, and they seemed set for a much handier half-time lead before Fyfe’s intervention. Another high-scoring contest is very much in the balance at the main break.
Anyone for tennis? Kevin Mitchell has written about Roger Federer’s decision to write off the 2020 ATP Tour season, a move that inevitably raises questions about the future of a man who will be 39 when he next steps on court.
It is Federer’s misfortune to be growing old when two of the greatest players of all time, Nadal and Djokovic, seem to have survived their own injury trials and are looking hungry to surpass him in the record books. What is more certain is that Federer will not go quietly. As he reminded us – and as he repeats whenever asked about retirement: “I will be missing my fans and the Tour dearly but I will look forward to seeing everyone back on Tour at the start of the 2021 season.”
In Federer’s absence Rafael Nadal will have the opportunity to draw level with his long-time rival on 20 career grand slams, while Novak Djokovic - with 17 slams in his trophy cabinet - must now be favoured to reach retirement as the greatest of them all. But despite being the two favourites for the next scheduled major, the US Open, neither may travel to Flushing Meadows to add to their hauls.
AFL: Q2 12 mins remaining: Brisbane 6.2 (38) v Fremantle 4.0 (24) Charlie Cameron is up to four goals already and another shootout is in store at the Gabba. Thursday’s low-scorer is fading in the rearview mirror.
Héritier Lumumba is continuing his push for public recognition from Collingwood about the racism he experienced during his 199-game stay at the Magpies. Earlier today he tweeted the latest in a series of detailed threads about his concerns and the specific questions he wants asked of coach Nathan Buckley and president Eddie McGuire.
I like this presentation of QT stats from the Dockers social media team.
Just don’t go all Mick Morgan on me Harry.
AFL: QT: Brisbane 4.2 (26) v Fremantle 3.0 (18) This one took a while to get going but once ex-Docker Lachie Neale opened the scoring with a superb individual effort it eased through the gears. Charlie Cameron already has 2.1 from four touches in a typically livewire showing.
To quote Jonathan Brown, Brisbane Coach “Chris Fagan will be ropable” after a Jarryd Lyons indiscretion saw a free-kick in the centre square reversed and result in Lachie Schultz dribbling through a goal as the siren sounded for quarter-time.
Hello everybody - it’s good to be back. Settle into your comfiest chair, surround yourself with snacks, and invite the canned crowd noise of a full day of live sport to soundtrack your every move. Welcome to post-lockdown Saturday Sportwatch.
It’s been a while, so forgive me if things take a while to whirr into action. There’s also only a reduced diet of sport to snack on for the time being, so if you’re not a fan of the major footy codes, you might want to find some creative ways of remaining engaged (I’m here for eight hours, so don’t think I’m not open to suggestions).
The return of the AFL has captured our attention twice already this week with Collingwood and Richmond conspiring to please absolutely nobody in their low-scoring draw, before Geelong demonstrated against Hawthorn that with home ground advantage and the stellar trio of Joel Selwood, Gary Ablett, and Patrick Dangerfield on song, they could be a dark horse for this year’s premiership.
The action continues today with Brisbane v Fremantle (1.45pm), Carlton v Melbourne (4.35pm), Gold Coast v West Coast (7.40pm), as well as the main event, the Showdown between Port Adelaide and Adelaide (7.40pm).
The NRL seems positively passé by comparison, heading into round five with an increasing sense of normality around the competition. There have already been wins for Manly, New Zealand, and most significantly, Parramatta, with the Eels laying down a marker against the high flying Panthers last night.
Today, South Sydney will be out to put the start of their troubled campaign behind them against whipping boys Gold Coast (3pm). After that it’s an all-top-five affair with Melbourne traveling to Newcastle (5.30pm) before Wests host Canberra in prime time (7.30pm).
But that’s not all. If you prefer your sport without social distancing, Super Rugby Aotearoa is here! Round one of that revised competition begins at 5.05pm with the Highlanders welcoming the Chiefs to delightful Dunedin.
There’s plenty more besides going on, and this isn’t going to be a blow-by-blow account of every match, so feel free to divert the conversation wherever you want it to go. It could be the impact of Roger Federer’s season-ending knee surgery, the cancelling of Geoffrey Boycott, the A-League now being the only major Australian sport without a TV deal allowing it to restart its season, the return of professional golf, snooker, whatever, we’re open for business below the line, on Twitter @JPHowcroft or via email [email protected].
Let’s get cracking!