What a night for sport! I started with the Bledisloe Cup game from Sydney. A great competitive affair, with only one point separating the Wallabies and the All Blacks in the end. A really hard fought game from both sides. With New Zealand coming back from a 13 point deficit, on a night when Matt Giteau left his kicking boots in the sheds. If Australia had switched the kicking duties to Kurtley Beale earlier they probably could have had the result. But the All Blacks closed the match out to finish with a 100% record in a Tri-Nations season that they totally dominated. But there was a lot to like about this season’s Wallabies too. Kurtley Beale was a revelation at Full Back, despite my preference for James O’Connor in that position. They work well together and Robbie Deans deserves praise for putting them both in. That’s probably why he’s the coach and I’m the critic. There were many other great showings from key players like Pocock and the skipper Rocky Elsom and others too numerous to mention. If only they can keep up their starts and maintain that level throughout games, they will be a force to be reckoned with in 2011. There is one more Bledisloe Cupgame to come in Hong Kong, or Japan, or somewhere else where small Asian men play the game they play in heaven.
After that I tuned in to the live coverage of the Arsenal v Bolton game from the English Premier league. Arsenal took the lead after a lot of possession through a scrambled goal by Koscielny. The hero then turned villain after a strong comeback by Bolton. He miss-cleared into the path of a Bolton’s attacking Lee Chung-Yong and then 5 Arsenal defenders were unable to stop his cross getting to Elmander the only Bolton man in the box. But Arsenal dominated in the second half taking the lead again with a headed goal from Chamakh, who was later converted into the stands byCahill, he was sent off for his sins. Bolton saw out the remainder of the game with 10 men and conceded 2 more goals. An amazing finish by Alex Song from what looked like an impossible angle on the bye line. Carlos Vela rounded off the scoring with a nice finish after beating the offside trap, but Arsenal could have and probably should have had 2 or 3 more. With lots of Gunners going over in the box and some good saves from the Bolton keeper. So a 4-1 finish that leaves the Arsenal in second position in the Premier League 2 points and 4 goals ahead of Man Utd after 4 games.
My night was rounded off with an amazing game of Rugby League between the Tigers and the Roosters. It was played at a frantic pace with numerous disallowed tries. The Tigers led for almost all of the game, but the Roosters came back to within a point with only minutes remaining. Then amazingly Braith Anasta dropped a goal in the final minute and took us into 20 minutes of Golden Point time. Drop goals were pushed wide by both sides and the Roosters had two attempts charged down. Finally Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored a try in the left corner to give the Roosters the win, in a game no one deserved to lose.
The only code I missed tonight was the AFL where the finals game between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs was also a close fought affair, with the Bulldogs finishing in front by less than a single goal.
I was forced to resort to watching on the net for the Australia v New Zealand Rugby test and the Arsenal v Bolton match. As Channel 7 once again elected not to show the international in Perth until 1:30AM seven and half hours after it was played. And of course there is no coverage of theEnglish Premier League (widely acknowledged as the best Football league in the world) on free to air television in Australia.
On a more positive note Channel 9 are to be praised for their coverage of Rugby League, which was a joy to watch, despite the fact that it is aired in the wee small hours in Perth, where Rugby League, well both Rugby codes really, are considered a minority sports. One comical moment in the Channel 9 commentary deserves special mention. A Tigers try by Ellis was disallowed due to a fracas in the middle of the field. Peter Sterling complained that it didn’t interfere with the play; Paul Vautin said there was nothing in it. But as the replay rolled, Benji Marshall clearly belted Mitchell Pearcesquare on the jaw. It was a true case of the curse of the commentators.