Monday 23 March 2009

Weekend reflection... 20-23 March, 2009

Here are some thoughts from the weekend of sport 20-23 March 2009.
Are Simon Mannering and Warriors leaving Manly behind?
1. The Warriors are a genuine contender for the NRL Premiership after playing below their best and still pulling off a late victory against the defending champions Manly. The 26-24 scoreline thanks to a 78th minute Jerome Ropati try and Denan Kemp conversion from wide out have the Warriors starting the season with 2 wins from 2 games and leaving the Sea Eagles winless so far in their defence. Now I realise having picked the Warriors in my 2009 NRL Season Preview to win the competition - this is good news - but they were really impressive against the Eels in Round 1 and now have shocked the title holders in the final minutes away from home (at Brookvale no less) and Stacey Jones remains Stacey Jones - superstar. 2. Will the NRL remember they've got a mandate on restricting the amount of time a goalkicker has to take his shot at goal following a try? It seems that this 'all important issue' when former Canberra fullback Clinton Schifcofske would go away and make a cappuccino before taking his shot at goal, has been forgotten as on Saturday night Hazem El Masri took a great deal of time to line up and ultimately convert his match-winning strike against the Panthers. This has to be a black and white rule. Either the player gets 90 seconds from the time the try is awarded (60 seconds if the decision goes to the Video Referee) and should he not kick the ball within that shot clock - his team still gets the net result from his conversion attempt - but the other team is immediately awarded a penalty from halfway and the game clock is reset to show exactly 90 seconds from the time the try was scored. This would mean goalkickers could still waste time by waiting til the 85th second to take their shot and then the clock would continue to wind down as he ran back on-side, but if he took 91 seconds to take the shot the clock is stopped, a penalty awarded and the team who was scored on gets a chance with the ball. The other alternative which is the cleanest and simplest way is toe simply STOP the clock when a try is scored or when a penalty kick for goal is indicated following a penalty and restarted when the ball is back in play. For conversions this would be when the ball is kicked off and in the Penalty Kick instance time would start the moment the ball is kicked from the tee. 3. If the NRL is to listen to the fans and bring in another day game - the logical restructure is the following.
FRIDAY - 2 Games @ 7:30pm - Both shown on Channel 9, one on delay. SATURDAY - 3 Games. 1 @ 4:00pm - Fox Sports and either 2 @ 7:30pm on Fox Sports or 1 @ 6:15pm and the other match @ 8:00pm. That way Fox Sports can still have 3 live games. SUNDAY - 2 Games. 1 @ 2:00pm - Fox Sports and 1 @ 3:00pm shown delay on Channel 9. MONDAY - 1 Game @ 7:00pm - Fox Sports will never relinquish the Monday Night game it is here to stay. The beauty of another afternoon game is that a 4pm start - especially in winter when organised sport is generally played earlier in the day for children - would become the family afternoon game and having two games follow at 6:15pm and 8:00pm would cater to the other demographics well. At the moment the 5:30pm game works due to it being Daylight Savings time but the moment Autumn gets longer - it will effectively be another night game. 4. The AFL Season kicks off on Thursday - did you know it was this close?
I rate Aussie Rules but don't rate the new ad.
I like the AFL but I don't watch as much of it as the NRL but the game hasn't been marketed in NSW (where I reside) to the point where I feel as if I can't miss a game involving my team. Now you can argue I'm just not passionate etc etc but I for one really enjoy the Sunday afternoon 1pm starts for the Swans at the SCG and find that on a Saturday night I just don't feel compelled to watch the AFL over the NRL. However if the Swans played the odd game on a Friday Night - live or delayed - I'd be more likely to tune in or go straight to the game if it was in Sydney - because for mine Friday Night is your marquee night to be interested in sport. The idea/agreement that the AFL has made with the Swans never to schedule them on a Friday Night to me seems stupid - because in my opinion Friday Night is THE time in the weekend schedule where exposing your product will make a difference. 5. Congratulations to the South Africans for playing some great cricket in this return series in South African and finally winning a Test! I watched quite a bit of this and the period of play when AB de Villiers went to town on the Australian backup bowlers was just great entertainment - his 4 sixes in a row of Andrew McDonald the highlight.
What I did notice was how much fun a game can be to watch when the Series is decided. Sure Australia were getting smashed in this game but the actual on-field product seemed so much more fun - well not if you're Bryce 'Never to play for Australia again' McGain - and made watching the contest when I should've been in bed much easier. By all means I don't like it when Australia gets dusted - well done to Mitchell Johnson on his maiden century - but the game just had a feel that made me enjoy it that little bit more as a spectacle. Don't get me wrong - the fact we somehow managed to win this series with a bowling attack that is way below what's required over the next 12-18 months to be a competitive force in world cricket still surprises me - but this game showed that we've got such a long way to go before we can settle on an 11 man team to re-establish ourselves as the best team in the world. We might be #1 on the rankings but we're by no means undisputed at the top.