Thursday, July 21, 2011
At a tick under 110 kms it's not the longest stage on the Tour program. But it's an absolute ball buster. It's been three years since the rider have had to tackle Modane Valfréjus and the three successive climbs which really separate the men from the boys.
Three years ago Cadel Evans was well placed to challenge for overall honours. But Modane Valfréjus was his downfall. Being such a short stage means that riders can challenge from the get go. And the presence of both Schleck brothers - Andy and Frank - will give Cadel absolute fits. With the brothers riding for the same team, we just don't know which one is being positioned for the win. Without doubt one of them will attack early. If Cadel doesn't follow suit he risks losing the stage from the outset. If he challenges, the attacker will just wear him out so that the trailing Schleck can preserve his energy during the climbs and cruise by going downhill. Either way it's a lose-lose for Cadel.
Once again he's going to get Schlecked...and there isn't much he can do about it.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Secure your Grand Final tickets from 10am tomorrow!
2011 NRL GRAND FINAL TICKETS PRESALE FOR NON-TICKETED MEMBERS
All 2011 non-ticketed members (Blue Blood and Sparky Junior Eels Members) of the Pirtek Parramatta Eels are entitled to a presale for 2011 NRL Grand Final Tickets.
The non-ticketed members presale will be occuring on Thursday 21st July from 10:00am - until 9:00pm Friday 22nd July.
The NRL have provided the following entitlement password to all Parramatta Eels Non-Ticketed Members which is to be used when purchasing tickets during the presale. Without this code tickets can not be purchased.
Click here to purchase your tickets from Ticketek.com
Sunday, July 10, 2011
I cant let these comments go unpunished!
Last nights game was a farce. It was decided before kick off.
The refereeing was so one sided, that it is hard to get a head of steam going when the guys with the whistle are against you.
At least when (Grasshopper) Gommersal was in the middle you knew where you stood.
Last nights fiasco was laughable. How many times did QLD lay all over the tackled player, slowing the ball down to a pace akin to Barcelona!?!?
Every time Thaiday tackled a player, his hands were all over the ball.
But I will not whinge too much as the better team did win.
The question I must ask is this….where is the Blues passion?
In days gone by, Thaiday's slap on Gidley would have been reason for an all in…today no one seemed to care.
Smith's dog antics at kneeing Hayne in the back should have resulted in punches flying everywhere and standing behind a mate.
Until NSW gets that hunger back, we will not win.
JT and Lockyer are merely made to look good by our ineptitude.Have a crack at that big AL!
I'm not going to disagree that the Blues lack passion...a charge that's been leveled at NSW for the best part of Origin history. Characters like MG, The Chief, Turvey and Joey, whose fire and brimstone approach to the clash of the states has been on par with the Maroons, has often evaded many of those lucky enough to don the sky blue jersey. I'm also not going to disagree that Thaiday and Cam Smith get away with murder. This isn't just related to Origin games. Both players push the limits in club footy too. Ennis often gets labelled as a grub because of his niggle. But that's mostly because of his big mouth. Cam Smith might be well spoken off the field and keeps his mouth shut on the field...but from the spectators perspective he has to be one of the dirtiest players in the game. Thaiday's nickname as 'Third Man In' is well deserved, and the less time wasted on his antics the better.
I can't agree that JT and Lockyer are made to look good by our ineptitude or the refereeing though. QLD has it over us in almost every key position. Smith over Ennis at hooker. Slater over Mini at fullback. Lockyer and Thurston over Pearce and Soward in the halves. For crying out loud I'd rate Cooper Cronk, QLD's third string half, as better than both of our starters. Scott over Mannah at prop...the list just goes on.
Speaking of props, here are some quick props from the weekend's activities:
Australian Diamonds - winning the World Netball Championships over our friends across the ditch. Another Aussie world champ! Well done
Queensland Reds - restoring some much needed credibility to the local scene by taking out the Super Rugby competition, and doing it by playing some attractive Rugby (is was wondering if that even existed!!!). Great job by Ewen McKenzie. Pity about the colour of the jersey
Alonso - great to see Alonso getting one over Vettel at Silverstone. It's far too early to say 'Game On' with Vettel still 96 points ahead, but at least it adds some intrigue to a F1 season becoming rather ho-hum
Matildas - although they lost 3-1 to Sweden in the women's football World Cup quarter finals, they played their hearts out during the tournament, and showed what can be achieved when you play attacking football and make your own luck. Socceroos take note
Parra Eels - a win...finally!!! Enough said
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
One of my favourite sports columnists is EPSN’s Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy. If you’ve got any interest in US sports (especially the NBA), pop culture (especially reality TV) or wrestling, then you should be reading (or listening to) Bill Simmons.
One of Bill’s gimmicks over the years has been to preview or review a sports event/season by using song lyrics or movie quotes to create a theme and point of comparison.
In my experience ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, so I’m stealing Bill’s gimmick and using it to review some of Queensland’s destruction of NSW in the series deciding State of Origin match last night.
There’s no question that QLD has just got more firepower than NSW, which has been the case for the past six years. Man for man they’ve been stronger than the Blues in almost every category, most importantly in the halves, where the Thurston and Lockyer combination has dominated whoever stands before them.
Throughout this period of domination I’ve marveled at how effectively and efficiently JT and Locky have pulled the strings, leading the Cane Toads to crushing win after crushing win. Like puppet masters, totally in control of the storyline and the characters on stage.
So without further ado, here is my SOO III review inspired by Metallica:
Master of Puppets are pulling your strings,
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
(Master of Puppets from Master of Puppets (1986)
This is for JT and Lockyer, the most successfully halves combination in Origin history. Most New South Welshman would be excited by the thought of Locky retiring, until we realize that Cooper Cronk is his replacement, leaving the Maroons with the strongest halves combination again!!!
The Horsemen are drawing nearer
On leather steeds they ride
They come to take your life
(The Four Horsemen from Kill ‘Em All, 1983)
The monster QLD pack led by Petero Civoniceva and Matt Scott. Despite their Game 2 stumble, they showed that you need big boppers up front to lay the foundation for victory. It’s been the constant to success in league since the dawn of time. Sure the tactic of a mobile pack of second rowers parading as props worked for one game. But it’s a tough act to replicate. A light heavyweight might be able to win a few rounds against a heavyweight…but sooner a later a heavy blow will be struck and the little guys knees will buckle
Hear the cry of war, louder than before
With his sword in hand, to control the land
Crushing metal strikes, on this frightening night
Fall onto your knees,
And bow to the Phantom Lord
(Phantom Lord from Kill ‘Em All, 1983)
Darren Lockyer. For so long south of the border we’ve paid homage to only one Cane Toad, ‘The King’ Wally Lewis, for his performances in the toughest arena in league. If Wally is the King, Lockyer is the Phantom Lord. His ability to maintain such a high standard of play over such a long career is unsurpassed at Origin level
Take a look to the sky just before you die
It’s the last time you will
(For Whom the Bell Tolls from Ride the Lightning, 1984)
To all the NSW Blues, who stepped onto the sacred turf of Lang Park and were overwhelmed when presented with the chance to put an end to the five year rot. From the outset they looked overmatch and outclassed. To their credit they kept plugging away and kept some level of interest in the game. In reality though the game was up after 20 minutes
Steamroller action crushing all,
Victim is your name and you shall fall
(Damage Inc. from Master of Puppets, 1986)
Sam Thaiday, who steps up for State of Origin like no other player in recent time. For the Broncos he’s good. In a Maroon jersey he’s amazing. A cannonball in attack and a brick wall in defense
We’re off to find,
The hero of the day
(Hero of the Day, from Load, 1996)
To Ricky Stuart, who certainly restored some credibility following the past couple of series disappointments, but who is still searching for the player to lead NSW to the Promised Land
Braiding your soul with a hard luck story
Show your scars
Spilling you blood in a hot sun’s foray
Show your scars
Breaking your life broken, beat and scarred
But we die hard
(Broken, Beat and Scarred from Death Magnetic, 2008)
This could only be Paul Gallen. No player increased his profile and garnered more respect this series than Paul Gallen. Gallen did everything humanly possible to will NSW to victory, but just didn’t have the horses to run with him. A couple more of his type in the forward pack, especially the front row, and NSW might have a sniff at victory
Never see what he did
got stuck where he hid
Fallen through the grid
(Invisible Kid from St. Anger, 2003)
The invisible kid is Jarryd Hayne. Hayne (in my one eyed blue and gold biased opinion) is the most naturally gifted NSW player. There are stories about an attitude problem, which may be the case, but in terms of physical ability he really does stand head and shoulders above everyone else. Until you stick him out on the wing, or bring him one step in to centre. Hayne needs the ball to have an impact. Selectors take note
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Not only did Novak Djokovic take the number one ranking away from both Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal for the first time in eight year (I think), he also crowned his moment of glory by lifting tennis’ Holy Grail – the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Single-Handed championship trophy.
In a performance that put an exclamation point on what is undoubtedly one of the greatest runs in the history of tennis (not just the open era), Nole not only ended the Roger and Rafa dominance in the rankings, but also of the grass courts, with a comprehensive three sets to one (6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3) victory over the man who was previously undefeated on the London lawns in 20 previous matches.
- Novak’s record since the amazing Davis Cup triumph last year is 50 wins to 1 loss
- In 2011 he has won two Grand Slams (Australian Open and Wimbledon) along with tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Madrid and Belgrade
- The only tournament which he didn’t win this year was the French Open, where he exited at the semi final stage after losing a nail biter to Federer
- Nole has won tournaments on all surfaces – hard court, clay and grass – this year
- He has amazingly beaten Rafa in five finals this year
- Not only has he beaten Rafa in 2011 finals, but he has also defeated Roger and Andy Murray – the other members of the top four – in the same span
- Prior to his triumph last night, he had never won a grass court tournament!
In the first set both players stood toe to toe, like heavyweight prize fighters trading heavy blows from the back of the court. Unlike any other player on the circuit though, Nole not only matched Rafa’s heavy hitting, but dominated the rallies to the point that Rafa cracked first and Nole took a tight first set 6-4.
Djokovic’s return of serve, touch at the net and court movement rattled Nadal, so much so that Nole proceeded to dominate Rafa in the second set like no other player has to date. It was simply a lesson in tennis artistry, with Rafa’s usually faultless game totally decimated.
However Rafa Nadal is not Andy Murray. A mentally fragile Murray would have packed it in and the match would have been over in straight sets. The competitor that is Nadal would never allow such a whitewash, and he came out all guns blazing in the third set, breaking Nole early and racing away to take it out 6-1. Nole was very tight, and question marks about his history of failures at Grand Slam level started to arise. He’d beaten Nadal a number of times this year, but never in a Slam. Never over five sets.
The pendulum was slowly swinging back to the Spaniard, who was pacing the baseline like a bull ready to charge the matador.
However this is the new and improved Nole. Nole 2.0 – the upgraded version that simply seems to have overcome all of his weaknesses. In the fourth set he steadied himself and took the game back away from Nadal with an early break. Although Rafa broke back to keep the match alive and the crowd begging for a deciding fifth set, destiny was always in the Serb’s grasp. And he snatched at it with glee.
Falling to his knees after playing the final winning shot, Nole took a couple of blades of grass from the sacred lawn and popped them into his mouth. The true taste of success.
Congratulations Nole on a wonderful run…you’ve etched your name in the record books alongside the greats of past and present.
Now is the time to kick on and create a dynasty.