Saturday, April 23, 2005

NFL Eels home again!

Western Tigers self-destructed and the Eels showed a lot of grit and some enterprise to make it back to back wins on the eve of a confrontation with the win-starved Bulldogs.
Luke Burt had a bad night with the boot and that could have been costly but the usually well disciplined Tigers made a heap of unforced errors in the second half and never managed to exert sustained pressure.

In the other match the Cowboys showed a lot of composure to soak up pressure from Penrith and score some spectacular tries including a game breaker just when Penrith was taking charge of the game in the second half. Eventually Penrith self-destructed as well with Craig Gower the main offender.

Aussi rules, my picks for round 5

These picks were before kickoff!
Port to beat Geelong. Wrong. A high quality game and a gritty effort by Geelong because Port looked like running away with it for a short time. The Ottens buy has paid off (3 goals).
Kangaroos to beat Hawks. OK but not a convincing effort.
Fremantle to beat Carlton. Yes. A risky selection in view of Freo's patchy form.
Adelaide to beat the Western Bulldogs. Wrong. Well done Bulldogs!
Melbourne to beat the Swans. Yes, thanks to finding the right set of sticks. Scoring shots practically equal.
West Coast to beat Brisbane.
St Kilda to beat Richmond.
Essendon to beat Collingwood.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Eels: Electric or Smoked? The agony of the long distance Parramatta supporter

Turning to the rugby league, nowadays known as the NRL, the burning question, as usual, is how many ways will the Parramatta Eels find to frustrate their supporters this year.
What have we done to deserve this?
Go back to 1971, they had a fine set of forwards and they met St George in the semis. The Saints took the game into extra time with a late try and then Billy Smith kicked the Dragons home with a field goal. The Saints went on to the grand final and lost to Souths, courtesy of a George Piggins rake-back in the play the ball, with Saints pressing the Souths line. Play the balls were contestable then, as were the scrums where there was a percentage in having a genuine ball-winning hooker.
In 1975 they started to look dangerous, an ex-Staints coach brough the winning mentality into the club and they finished equal fourth with two other teams. This meant a mid-week knockout to decide fourth place. Two of the three teams played on Tuesday, the winner to play the other team on Thursday. The Eels drew a short straw and played on Tuesday. They won, so they got to play on Thursday. They won again so they qualified to play Manly in the knockout semi on the weekend. They started well and had the better of the play but all-time great Bobby Fulton in the Manly colours turned the game around with a try against the run of play.
1976, Ray Price joined the club, into the grand final against Manly, led most of the day but lost out from two penalties for scrum infringements.
1977, Mick Cronin, the Crow, came to town and the team led the comp all season, inspired by Johnny "bomber" Peard. Tied the grand final with Saints, no result in extra time, creamed in the replay with strongarm tactics applied by the very young and strong Saints pack.
1978. Referee Hartley's year. Manly win, beating Parra in a midweek playoff after a draw on the weekend, and beating Cronulla in a grand final replay after a draw first up. Dodgy tackle counts and open season for elbows to the head from Manly forwards. Parra ran out of fullbacks and Peter Sterling made his debut at fullback in the midweek replay.
1979. Saints beat Parra in the last minute of the major semi. Price sent off in the preliminary final against Canterbury. Parra lose the game, Price exonerated at the tribunal. Saints beat Canterbury.
1980. Arthur Beetson joined the club, broke jaw and sat out the end of the season. Did not make finals.
1981. Jack Gibson coach. Newton revival under Warren "Wok" Ryan. Parra lucky in semi against Newtown, Billy Wilson missed easy shot for Parra to sneak in, desperate for a week off to rest injured star players. Easts set the pace for the season but Newtown knock them out, followed by Manly (literally) to back up against the Eels. Newtwon hit the front after half time with a soft try to Tommy Raudonikos, then Kenny bagged his second try and others show class for Parra to steam home.
1982. Manly look the goods for most of the season but fall over in the grand final, two in a row for the Eels.
1983. More of the same.
1984. A close run 6-4 loss to Ryan's Canterbury maulers in the grand final. Winning try scored while Ray Price temporarily out of the play.
1985. Outmuscled by Canterbury in the preliminary. Canterbury beat Saints 7-6.
1986. Cronin almost blinded in one eye in preseason injury. Parra have muscle up front and outplay Canterbury for most of grand final, cross the line twice for disallowed tries, Crow misses first two shots at goal. Parra survive Canterbury domination of last 15 minutes to win 4-2.
1987. Price and Cronin retire. The first of the wilderness years. Sterling and Ella still shining but wearing out. Recruits do not perform to expectation. Ten years later a count turns up 22 Parra juniors playing first grade with other clubs. Attempt to buy a team from Canterbury does not quite work.
2001. Brilliant young team get comnination, and a dream run without injuries and state of origin commitments. Favoured to win Grand Final but Newcastle play inspired first half to win despite spirited Parra revival. Everyone says the young eels only have to turn up next year to make the grand final again.
2002. Injuries and representative commitments kill the dream.
2003. Suspensions, injuries, slow start, a flick of form but too late. Put out of misery by Panthers in last game.
2004. If it was a fish you would throw it back.

Post mortem on Round Four

Trust the real Saints to turn up in the last quarter against the Demons.
Thanks to an unlikely performance by the Tigers (why did I pick them? am I psychic? No, not judging by my position in the tipping comp) I managed five out of eight this time.
Congratulations to the Hawks for showing some real form, and in enemy territory as well!
Essendon continue to bomb, but not for want of effort and there is still plenty of class in the side if they can just generate some momentum. The real Geelong stood up, and that is a worry for every other side in the competition.
The Eagles are going to cause some real problems this year, and the Bulldogs are going to battle for a few wins.
The Swans are going to cause problems for their fans as much as the opposition, like Melbourne they can lose the plot and snatch defeat from victory.
Adelaide remain an unknown quantity, they are not going to be in the top five or the bottom five but where they will fall in the middle six is hard to pick.
Much the same can be said of Carlton, a lot depends on the capacity of other teams to smother Fevola who is likely to be a marked man. Port are not playing like a premiership team at present, it remains to be seen if they have the mental attitude required for back to back flags.
The Kangaroos are demonstrating the power of attitude and Collingwood are looking down the barrel with another key player limping off and their trump card still watching from the stand.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Round Four

My selections for round four. Desperate to do better than three last week, thanks to all the teams that fell over in the last quarter and blew good leads!

North Melbourne over Collingwood (a risky pick, how long can the Kangaroos keep winning, and Collingwood are showing some ticker). In the event, Norths in a game that could have gone either way.
Swans to beat the Crows at home (risky)
Lions to beat Hawks.
Geelong to beat Essendon.
Eagles to beat Western Bulldogs.
Port to beat Carlton.
Demons to beat St Kilda (??). Well you have to back your own team don't you, especially when they are in form. But when is the real St Kilda going to stand up?
Richmond to beat Fremantle (a real risk, still time to change that before kickoff).

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Round Three

My picks for this round. Melbourne over Geelong (heart over head), Carlton over Collingwood, Saints over Kangaroos (going against Eddie for the third time), Brisbane over Sydney (head over heart), West Coast over Fremantle (hard to call), Port over Adelaide (another tough local derby), Essendon over Hawks (could be a massacre), Western Bulldogs over the Tigers (still getting sorted).

These are the picks before kick-off. The Demon selection is looking good although I had to nominate a margin and 10 points is a long way short of the final result. Goal kicking looked like the difference, yet again (how many games now?), but the real story was told in the midfield.

As I write Carlton has 8 points on the Pies and the Saints have four points on the Kangaroos. If Eddie's Kangaroos get up I might have to take Monday off to avoid facing up to him at work after picking the opposition three times in a row.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Round Two

My picks: Carlton, Melbourne, Swans, Brisbane, Hawthorn (with trepidation), Geelong, Saints, Collingwood.

Carlton did the right thing in the last quarter to snatch an unlikely victory and keep my hopes alive for a decent round. Bad kicking at goal cost them heavily in the first half, they had more scoring shots but were well out of the contest on the scoreboard.