Posted by: jkirkby8712 | October 16, 2011

Sunday, 16th October 2011 – Rugby World Cup Semi Final, Australia vs New Zealand

I have to admit that most of my in interest today was related to either music – planning my next couple of programs for the radio –  or a number of sporting events of relevance to Australia today. That came after my usual early Sunday morning program of classical music, followed by yet another expensive visit to the chemist – I guess one advantage of the retirement plans will, be cheaper pharmacy expenses!!

As indicated, a bit of a sporty day with Australian teams and/or individuals competing at the international level. Casey Stoner was down at Phillip Islands this afternoon for the Australian MotoGP Grand Prix  – about 100 kms to the south east of Melbourne, a great spot for a holiday [but not on the racing circuit!!]. I think Casey needed to get at least 6 points from the race to seal the World Championship with a couple more races to go. He basically led from the front row of the starting grid, and stayed there for the entire race  -[ from memory, this was the 5th successive Australian GP that he has won, and his second World Championship. And to top it all off, today was also his birthday!  Casey Stoner – 2011 World Motorcycling Champion.

Casey Stoner

Meanwhile in the two rugby codes that are played in Australia, we had a real double header between the two Tasman neighbours – Australia and New Zealand. In Newcastle [New South Wales] this afternoon, there was a Rugby League Test match between the two teams – Australian Kangaroos versus the Kiwis. This was actually televised [the first half anyway] at the same time as Casey Stoner’s race, so my loyalties were divided. Things were looking rather promising for the Aussies at half time, leading 26 – 0, and it didn’t improve a great deal in the second half, for the visitors. Final score saw Australia 42. New Zealand 6

At around 7pm, the big Rugby World Cup 2nd Semi Final commenced – the Australian Wallabies versus the New Zealand All Blacks.  While the Australian [New Zealand born] coach, Robbie Deans didn’t consider that history would play a part in tonight’s clash,  the evidence revealed that Australia’s last win against New Zealand at Eden Park {Auckland] was in 1986, the year before the Rugby [Union] World Cup began!! In addition, the All Blacks have not lost to another team at that ground for 17 years through 26 matches. Rather convincing statistics!  Deans commented that “It’s a tough place to play, and those are impressive numbers for sure but they don’t matter once Sunday night’s match kicks off…..The pressure is divided equally on both sides as there is no tomorrow and the ultimate prize [a place in the Rugby World Cup Final] awaits the side that earns that right of passage”  Actually, I would have thought there was more pressure on the All Blacks – they have never won the World Cup despite being probably one of the most consistent teams since the 80s, and with the competition being held on their home turf this time, the home supporters expect/assume they will win this time. If they fail again, it may not be well taken by the New Zealand fans.  Tonight’s referee is Craig Joubert of South Africa.

Statistics – of the 166 matches  [Union] played between Australia and New Zealand since 1903,  New Zealand has won, 114, Australia 47, and 5 draws. This is the third meeting between the two countries at  Rugby World Cup, which each occurring at the semi final stage. Australia beat New Zealand  16-6 at Dublin during the 1991 tournament, which the Wallabies went on to win, and 22-10 at the same stage of the 2003 event in Australia, after which Australia lost the final to England.

Unfortunately for the Wallabies, history wasn’t going to do a reversal tonight. After listening to a couple of impressive versions of the New Zealand and Australian National Anthems, followed by the Kiwi’s normal ‘Haka war dance & chant’ [all of which I was hearing for the second time today], the game got underway. Not a good start to the game – within five minutes, the All Blacks had a Try, though the conversion was missed. Then followed a missed penalty kick at the 10 minute stage, but a couple of minutes later, another Australian mistake [such mistakes would become the story of the match] resulted in a successful NZ kick this time – the score 8-0 after 12 minutes. A while later, Australia had what would it’s best chance at a Try, just fell short, but a penalty kick to our favour followed soon after, and James O’Connor made no mistake – score 8-3 down. At 20 minutes, another mistake by Australia, followed by another missed Kiwi shot – we should have miles behind but were somehow ‘hanging in there’. A field goal to both teams, and yet another successful penalty shot to NZ saw the score at halftime – New Zealand 14, Australia 6.

Before the match started, I sent a text to Dawn and Tony in Dunedin –  Dawn responded with ‘It could go either way, don’t really mind who wins [I bet her husband does!!] as long as it is a good game that we can all enjoy. We sort of have a foot in both camps so to speak’ [with relatives in Australia].  Anyway, 2 minutes into the 2nd half, and yet another penalty against Australia – score now 17-6. In fact, from an Australian point of view, it was a disappointing second half, in some ways a better effort by the Australian players, but still too many basic errors, and we were un-able to make any headway! New Zealand were simply the more dominant team at the scrums in particular, and they won the battle of the physical contest. The final score:  New Zealand 20 defeated Australia 6.  I texted my congratulations to my Kiwi friends – Dawn responded with ‘The all blacks may just win the Cup this year after all. We all said that this game would be the big one’.

While all this was happening, I was getting the usual ‘friendly but cynical comments about Australia’s sporting losses from Maureen in England. But she did refer me to a link about one success we were having  – it told me that the ‘Australian Diamonds are halfway to a clean sweep –  i.e., the Australian Netball  team has completed the first half of an ambitious plan to clean sweep their final six Test matches of the year with a surprisingly hard-fought 45-41 defeat of England in their third outing against the World No. 3 side in just eight days [of course, after the recent world netball championships, Australia is No. 1, and New Zealand – the Silver Ferns – No. 2].

Still one more ‘sporting’ event later tonight – the Formula 1 car racing Korean Grand Prix, with of course being the Australian driver Mark Webber. We might see how things went there, in tomorrow’s contribution!!

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