Friday, July 06, 2007

Rip van Red Terror back in biz!

O-kay, still rubbing the sleep outta my eyes...

I just returned from a working vacation on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Good times. I haven't seen the NZ vs. Canada test match yet ~ nor any of the Tri-Nations tests ~ but will watch the tape shortly. Until then, I have some basic housekeeping to catch up on.

I did manage to listen to last Saturday's All Blacks vs. Wallabies clash at Melbourne, lounging in a hammock on a hot sunny Saturday morning overlooking the Bay of Fundy, from Radio Australia's shortwave radio service. It was a stupefying come-from-behind win for the home side Aussies. The radio commentary was Australian, probably ABC feed. I can't remember the names of the Aussie commentators (possibly incl. Tim Gavel?), but they were spelling out fairly decisively that referee Jonkers was a plonker, that the All Blacks were monstering the Wallabies across the track and looked threatening most of the game, but were undone by stupid mistakes (i.e. kicks out on the full, dropped passes on try-scoring overlaps, a supposedly terrible missed Rico Gear tackle that they claimed would have his head on a chopping block, and they were howling about a line-out thrown-in by Keven Mealamu that they agreed was the worst throw-in they had ever seen (they said he threw it straight to the halfback (true?))). The commentators were obviously delighted by the Wallabies pluck, fight-back and win, but they were unconvinced about the quality of it.

I am certainly glad R. Australia makes these live audio commentaries available for overseas listeners. Radio New Zealand International used to broadcast NPC, S12, ABs and Warriors NRL matches to the Pacific Islands and beyond for years, but Radio Sport got greedy and tore up their agreement (as if a domestic Kiwi radio listener was going to turn off his AM and FM radio in order to hunt the matches down on a shortwave receiver with signals aimed thousands of miles away interfered by every lightning strike across the Pacific, instead.). So, kudos to R.Oz.

Will get up-to-speed with a Tri-Nations review after tomorrow's Wallabies vs. Springboks clash. All three teams are level at one win and one loss apiece at the halfway point of the tournament, but one suspects the advantage is running in the All Blacks favour. They are the only team with an away win to their credit, and have still to host their pair of home tests. The South Africans will play both their remaining games on the road, and with inferior starting lineups to the side that beat the Wallabies and lost narrowly to the All Blacks at home.

Australia: 1. Matt Dunning, 2. Adam Freier, 3. Guy Shepherdson, 4. Nathan Sharpe, 5. Dan Vickerman, 6. Rocky Elsom, 7. George Smith, 8. Stephen Hoiles, 9. George Gregan, 10. Stephen Larkham, 11. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Matt Giteau, 13. Stirling Mortlock (captain), 14. Mark Gerrard, 15. Julian Huxley. Reserves: 16. Sean Hardman, 17. Al Baxter, 18. Hugh McMeniman, 19. David Lyons, 20. Phil Waugh, 21. Scott Staniforth, 22. Drew Mitchell.

South Africa: 1. CJ van der Linde, 2. Gary Botha, 3. Jannie Du Plessis, 4. Johan Ackermann, 5. Johann Muller, 6. Wikus van Heerden, 7. Pedrie Wannenburg, 8. Bob Skinstad (captain), 9. Ruan Pienaar, 10. Derick Hougaard, 11. JP Pietersen, 12. Wynand Olivier, 13. Waylon Murray, 14. Breyton Paulse, 15. Bevin Fortuin. Reserves: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Eddie Andrews, 18. Albert van den Berg, 19. Jacques Cronjé, 20. Michael Claassens, 21. Peter Grant, 22. Jaco Pretorius.

Date: Saturday 7 July
Venue: Telstra Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 20.05 local (10.05 GMT) 06:00 AM ET (New York, Toronto)
Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Steve Walsh (New Zealand), Kevin Deaker (New Zealand)
Television match official: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)
Assessor: Michel Lamoulie (France)

Rugby Planet prediction: Australia by 6 points.

Wallabies vs. Springboks test match available LIVE on Mediazone Rugby Channel. Click here. Kick-off at 06:00 AM ET early Saturday morning (Toronto, New York).


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