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Monday, September 22, 2008
Lions Lift Log
The Wellington Lions smashed 'n skunked Ranfurly Shield holders Auckland27-0 at Eden Park on Saturday. The comprehensive drubbing means Wellington lifts ye olde "Log O' Wood" for the first time in 26 years. The city will be holding a ticker-tape parade for the victors. Chastised Auckland supporters are hanging their heads in shame, not merely about the humiliating loss of the Shield, but also about those lousy new-look skinny-hooped jersies that make their players look like a pack of metrosexual meeklings. Get rid of em!
The heart-stopping All Blacks defeated the gallant Wallabies28-24 in a fantastic decider at Brisbane to retain the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup titles. It is the All Blacks fourth title in a row, and their ninth championship in 13 years of the annual series. The victors are deserved champions. They faced an Australian onslaught, bending but not quite breaking, and fought back like champions to win in style and take the outcome down to the final whistle.
The game was a nailbiting thriller. Check the 9:28 youtube clip above, courtesy Rugby Dump.
Forget what the assclown at Rugby Planet said about the tournament being "tedium" and "boring" and "irritating," etc. This was the most wide-open and unpredictable tournament in the series history, and the championship decider was a classic test match to top the whole thing off. Well done to both sides. Hats off to the contingent of kiwi fans in full support, too. The Blacks may have been mistaken there for a bit thinking it was a home test.
The Tri-Nations championship decider goes late tonight (early morning ET) in Brisbane. The Wallabies, coming off the shock 53-8 slaughter at the hands of the wooden-spoon-holding Springboks, host the All Blacks at one of New Zealand's happier hunting grounds in Australia. The All Blacks are back to full-strength after their 101-14 mid-week pulverisation of Samoa last week. Should be a cracker, with all sorts of interesting sub-plots, from All Black lock Brad Thorn playing against his adopted nation in front of his home crowd (!), and his ex-Crusader coach Robbie Deans trying to claim the prize away from his home-nation Kiwis (!!).
AUSTRALIA: 1. Benn Robinson, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Al Baxter, 4. James Horwill, 5. Nathan Sharpe, 6. Rocky Elsom, 7. George Smith, 8. Wycliff Palu, 9. Sam Cordingley, 10. Matt Giteau, 11. Lote Tuqiri, 12. Stirling Mortlock (captain), 13. Ryan Cross, 14. Peter Hynes, 15. Adam Ashley-Cooper. Reserves: 16. Adam Freier, 17. Matt Dunning, 18. Hugh McMeniman, 19. Phil Waugh, 20. Richard Brown, 21. Brett Sheehan, 22. Drew Mitchell.
NEW ZEALAND: 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Andrew Hore, 3. Greg Somerville, 4. Brad Thorn, 5. Ali Williams, 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Richie McCaw (captain), 8. Rodney So'oialo, 9. Jimmy Cowan, 10. Dan Carter, 11. Sitiveni Sivivatu, 12. Ma'a Nonu, 13. Conrad Smith, 14. Richard Kahui, 15. Mils Muliaina. Reserves: 16. Keven Mealamu, 17. John Afoa/ Neemia Tialata, 18. Anthony Boric, 19. Adam Thomson, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Stephen Donald, 22. Isaia Toeava.
Date: Saturday, September 13 Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Kick-off: 20:00 (10:00 GMT) Weather: Warm and clear, 17 C. Referee: Jonathan Kaplan Touch judges: Craig Joubert, Mark Lawrence TMO: Johann Meuwesen
No, the Wallabies aren't dead yet. They still have a chance to win the Tri-Nations in a rubber-match against the All Blacks in Brisbane in two Saturdays (September 13).
But last Saturday's massacre at the hands of the Springboks at Ellis Park was an abject humiliation. A scoreline of 53-8 is an ass-kicking by every standard imaginable. Debutante league-convert Timana Tahu must be wondering what hit him.
If you haven't seen the game, spare yourself a viewing unless you're a Bok fan desperately seeking schadenfreude as consolation. Think about that: the Tri-Nations wooden spoon holders just spanked the potential tournament champions by 45 points!
It's been a wild & wide-opened tournament so far, but the All Blacks need to win to restore some integrity to the trophy. Nevertheless, common sense says a wounded Wallaby team playing at home, at sea-level, in the friendly confines of Brisbane, is a wholly different animal than the one playing away on the high-veldt elevation at Johannesburg, where they had (and still haven't!) won in 45 years. All Blacks beware!
New Zealand gets to work off the ring-rust tonight against Samoa in a rare mid-week test in an even-rarer test match venue in New Plymouth. ABs rest all-world skipper Richie McCaw.