Professional contracts, nail-biting victories, and national selections to bitter disappointments highlight this week’s delving into the Good, Bad and Ugly of Sport!
Two former Wairarapa United prodigies top the list this week by signing with professional football clubs in the United Kingdom. Goalkeeper Scott Morris [Wai United 2017–21] inked an 18-month deal with English Championship club Stoke City, and Callan Elliot [2016–18] put pen to paper with Scottish Premier club Motherwell for the rest of the current season.
Hockey star Dane Lett kept the local flag flying in Oman and more than likely booked a seat to his second Olympics after the Black Sticks snuck a late winner to beat Pakistan 3–2 and qualify for Paris.
Marcus Daniell continued his return from a serious injury by being named in the New Zealand Davis Cup team for next week’s World Group round one tie with Turkey in Auckland.
Back home, the Giants softballers are the diamond in the pack, completing a gruelling weekend in searing heat and going unbeaten in five games, winning the Intercity Premier Three Championship and their own Kuripuni Tavern Classic tournament.
Post Office Hotel Wairarapa didn’t get the finish they wanted and were outplayed by a classy Hawke’s Bay side in a first-innings loss in their final Furlong Cup cricket clash of the season, but their third equal placing with Taranaki in the Furlong Cup is their best return for several seasons.
Questions might be asked about the legitimacy of the late penalty awarded to the Phoenix that rescued a 1–1 draw against Melbourne Victory, but I’ve seen plenty given for less than that, and the Wellingtonians won’t care as they retained their spot at the A-League summit.
The NZ Breakers make a rare visit to this section with a 106–75 slam dunking of the South East Melbourne Phoenix to revive their ANBL playoff chances; Lydia Ko chipped in with victory in the first LPGA event of the year in Florida; Finn Allen smashed 137, including 16 sixes, as the Black Caps wrapped up the T20 series with Pakistan in Dunedin, and racing got a shot in the arm with the announcement of the NZB Kiwi, New Zealand’s richest ever race worth $3.5 million to be raced at Ellerslie in March 2025.
The Southey Sayer Wairarapa Korus were without some key personnel for their Shrimpton Trophy women’s cricket clash with Manawatū, but their poor effort with the bat in being rolled for 87 was well below their own high expectations.
Staying with cricket, the Black Caps’ toothless effort in posting only 92 and losing the fifth and final T20 with Pakistan just confirmed what many of us have known for decades: that we can’t play good quality spin bowling.
The Black Sticks women’s slide down the slippery slope into the ugly zone was confirmed after they failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 1996. A 1–0 loss to the USA in their final pool match at the qualifying tournament in India ended any chance of the underperforming Kiwis heading to Paris.
Four losses in a row is ugly and enough for the Wellington Phoenix women to tumble into this section.
After a bright start to the season, the wheels have fallen off, and the Phoenix have won only two games in their last nine and have not tasted success since before Christmas. On a positive note, they remain only two points off a playoff spot.