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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Champions, chumps, and red cards

International champions, a life member, calamitous cricket, and a brutal tackle highlight this week’s edition of the Good, Bad and Ugly of Sport, so it’s time to draw the six-shooter.

GOOD

Wairarapa athlete Alison Andrews-Paul strode to the top of the podium, with a perfectly timed move on the final bend, to run away with the women’s 800m gold medal at the Oceania Athletics Championships in Suva.

Not far behind, Dalefield’s Dane Lett played a key defensive role in the Black Sticks winning the Nations Cup in Poland, beating France 4–3 in a shootout after the game finished in a 1–1 draw.

One of the good guys of local sport, Doug Bracewell, was deservedly awarded life membership at last week’s Wairarapa Bush Rugby Union AGM. In his playing days Bracewell was in the 1981 Wai Bush team that won promotion to the first division. As a coach, he led Pioneer to the 1993 and 1994 club titles and has been heavily involved in coaching and administration for decades. Bracewell was also a talented cricketer, being part of the 1977 Hawke Cup-winning Wairarapa team, and considered unlucky not to have played for New Zealand. He then had a successful coaching career and still mentors promising players. Bracewell is also a life member of Wairarapa Cricket.

The Dalefield premier teams both recorded wins in the Intercity and deserve mention – the men 10–2 over Te Awa and women 3–1 over HSHC – as do Douglas Villa for bouncing back after a shock loss to beat Island Bay 5–1 in Capital Football, and Pioneer for their four-try burst in the 12 minutes to beat Masterton Red Star 50–18 in premier rugby, but the effort of the week in local sport was injury ravaged East Coast, with only 16 players, kicking a last gasp penalty to edge Martinborough 31–29.

The NZ Warriors bucked the Cowboys 42–12, with the standout of their seven tries being Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s miraculous mid-air flick back of the ball over the deadball line for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to dot down. What game were the commentators watching, though, when they spouted that the Cowboys were still a chance at 36–12 down with less than 10 minutes to play?

The Central Pulse again showed they are one of the National Netball Premiership favourites with a 54–38 pummelling of the defending champs, the Mystics, and setting up a blockbuster against the Tactix in Christchurch on Sunday.

Of course, I can’t leave out the Hurricanes, who breezed into the Super Rugby semifinals with a 47–20 win over the Rebels, but beware – the Chiefs are hovering and looking ominous.

Dame Susan Devoy ends this sector, joining Jahangir Khan as the two inaugural inductees into the International Squash Hall of Fame.

BAD

If you wanted further proof of the flawed playoff system in Super Rugby, you got in bucketfuls with one-sided romps to the Canes, the Blues, and the Chiefs and a second-half shutout by the Brumbies over the Highlanders.

Another rugby final and another red card to ruin the spectacle. This time, in the English Premiership final, won by Northampton 25–21, who played most of the match against 14 after Bath prop Beno Obano was shown a red card in the first half for a mistimed tackle somewhat reminiscent of Sam Cane’s in the World Cup final.

When will World Rugby realise that its rigid red card regimen is ruining rugby? It’s time to adopt the 20-minute stand-down or once again take the common-sense approach of the 13-a-side code and place the offender on report. Red cards should only be for deliberate foul play, not for accidental collisions. UGLY

Staying with the red card theme, there was none more deserved than NSW debutant Joseph Suaalii going for an early shower for his sickening headshot that left Queensland fullback Reece Walsh out cold, and it rightly ends up in the GBU ‘Hall of Shame’.

As does the Black Craps [no, that isn’t a typo] unravelling under the pressure of the excellent Afghanis in their opening match of the T20 World Cup.

In my five-plus decades of watching our national cricket team, many of those in times when we weren’t very good, I cannot recall a more all-round poor performance. Can’t bowl, can’t field, and can’t bat sums it up perfectly.

And what fool goes into a World Cup without a warm-up game? There must also be plenty of question marks over team selection – looking after their buddies springs to mind. It doesn’t get any easier with the Windies on the radar today.

On that depressing note, that’s a rap!

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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