One of sports golden tenets has forever been this: Always, and one means always, do the exact opposite to what your foe wishes. And why not? For one thing, it makes sense. And if you can’t see the sense in it, just do it to spite them anyway. Discover your inner mongrel. If the little lucifer's prefer the game to be played at speed, be lucifer and play it slow. If they concur with a slower pace, speed it up. Desire a grind, throw it wide and offload until the cows come home. Dream of becoming the globetrotters of League, serenade them with a grind. Surely you get the message by now. At least you should. The New Zealand Warriors, well . . . They don’t seem to get it. Put them up against Cronulla, as they were tonight, and one surmises they would surely avoid the grinding of bones on muscle that those from the shire have delighted in boring the Rugby League World with since 1968. Never have the beggars altered their ways and one would be fried with shock if variety invaded their heightened sense of dullness. So, surely, you attempt to open play up somewhat. Get that offloading game of yours flowing. And what did the Warriors do? Yeah, you guessed it, they grinded against the grinders and got ground down. Smart. . . Not. For the first eight to ten weeks of the season, when the Auckland based franchise impersonated a top-class side and Stephen Kearney appeared to have claimed more than a modicum of coaching ability from god knows where (Though one can have a decent guess on that count) his side were offloading with impunity. And it was often. Now, they appear a side that has gone back to the ways of 2017 under Kearney whereupon completion rates were considered to be of more importance than disabling Kim Jong Un’s nuclear arsenal. Each and all wish to witness a high percentage of sets of six completed. It helps, after all, if your side has the pill and preferably in your foe’s half. Yet, tonight, the home side appeared afraid of losing the ball more than were of playing some football. The days of the offload have gone, and Kearney is reverting to type, it seems. No wonder they lost 18-15. And no wonder they lost the ball in the tackle on numerous occasions. They appear a team, that while they will make the top eight, are on the slide, scared to play football, and are heading for a horrendous spanking come finals time. And Kearney is quite possibly entering the beginning of the end of his career as a head coach. For many, one suspects, it can’t come soon enough.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
New South Wales have scored first, in the form of a penalty, in this the first game of the 2018 State of Origin. Nothing spectacular there. And they began slowly, with Queensland having slightly the better of the opening ten minutes. Yet, the Sydneysiders slowly eased their way into the encounter with Addo-Carr and Cleary numerating several halfbreaks. A young side, a fresh beginning, the guns of young looked increasingly assured as the minutes wiled away. No sooner had these pressure handling immunities gone up by two than Tedesco was put into the clear up the middle of the park to extend the lead by a further six. Eight to them, none to those, could it be that the relaxed personality of Brad Fitler, their new Coach, is the ideal foil to those inexperienced minds. Utopia for a three-match series. Keep them calm, Freddie may just be their balm.