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I cover AFL, AFL Women's, NRL, the Supercars and tennis.

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2022 AFLW: Round 1 preview

We are only just a few days into the new year but we do not have to wait long for the return of Australian rules football, with the sixth season of the AFL Women’s competition to get underway this weekend.

Thought for a while that was in Brissy, but thanks for the head up.

Australia expects: How all the semi finalists shape up as Barty fights to break drought

All she (and other players for that matter) can do is just take matches one at a time.

If anything, I reckon the media had centered interest in the women’s tournament around the possible Barty vs Osaka fourth round match, as we all now know won’t eventuate. The same thing happened at Wimbledon in 2019, when Barty was drawn to face Serena Williams in the quarter-finals in what would’ve been an intergenerational match, only for the Aussie to lose to Alison Riske in the fourth round after winning the first set.

In recent years women’s tennis has thrown up the odd unexpected champion, such as Iga Swiatek and Barbora Krejcikova at Roland Garros eight months apart between 2020 and 2021, and Emma Raducanu at the US Open last year. While we rarely see this in men’s tennis, it had been known that the next generation would break through sometime, like Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev did at the last two US Opens.

That said, Medvedev deserves to be the title favourite but you just cannot count out Rafael Nadal, who is the only former champion still remaining in the men’s draw.

Now or never for Barty as Osaka crashes out at the Australian Open

“I was also a little confused by you describing Darcy Vescio as ‘the league’s leading goalkicker.’ For all I know, maybe she is since the AFLW began, and perhaps that is what you meant.”

Yes that’s correct; I read the match reports from the previous round when writing my AFLW round previews.

And thanks for the heads up I had forgotten that Carlton lost to Collingwood in round one.

2022 AFL Women's season: Round 3 preview

TOURNAMENT UPDATE

As a lot of you will have heard this evening, Novak Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled, however he is appealing against this decision and whether he actually participates at the Australian Open is now in the balance. As it stands right now, he is still in the draw, but if he is indeed forced out of the country, there will be a draw reshuffle. Stay tuned!

No more Barty party: Forecasting the unpredictable 2022 Australian Open

CORRECTION: Zverev is drawn to play Nadal in the quarters, not the semis.

No more Barty party: Forecasting the unpredictable 2022 Australian Open

CORRECTION: “ Last year, at the age of 33…”

That should be 34.

2022 Australian Open: Preview

Cheers, appreciate it.

This is the fifth AFL Women’s season I am covering (did not do the first season as I was on holidays at the time), and I think over time my analysis of the league will get better as we get to know more of the teams and players.

On that note, it will be interesting and intriguing as to how Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney will fare in their first seasons when they enter the competition in 2022/23. Geelong did well in its first season (2019) only to be on the receiving end of a masterclass by the Adelaide Crows in the prelim, while the Gold Coast Suns did play finals in its first season (losing to Fremantle in what would ultimately turn out to be a meaningless qualifying final, as the 2020 season was then abruptly terminated just after the COVID pandemic was declared).

As for this season, I expect the Crows and Brisbane Lions to again be up there among the contenders; while Melbourne (which has added Tayla Harris to its list) and North Melbourne would be the best Victorian hopes. Plenty of unknowns make for what should be an exciting season.

2022 AFLW: Round 1 preview

Yep, I have noticed some similarities with the 2021 and 2022 fixtures, not least of which are (apart from the special fixture matches):

* Round 1: Adelaide Crows opening the season at home for a fourth straight year, and the West Coast Eagles playing the Gold Coast Suns in the final match of the opening round;
* GWS’ round 7, 10 and 11 fixtures are the exact same as they were last season (Crows @ Oval, Eagles @ Giants, Lions @ Gabba), while they again play Collingwood at the G (not that they would mind, because they have won three of their last four encounters at the ground including the famous 2019 prelim);
* Brisbane Lions hosting West Coast in their only fixture once again;
* Port Adelaide missing out on hosting Collingwood for a fifth straight year (including last season when what would’ve been their first home game vs the Pies since 2017 was shifted to Melbourne, and in 2020 when they faced each other at the Gabba);
* Essendon having to face the West Coast Eagles in Perth yet again, their last home game against them being in 2017;
* Sydney vs Adelaide and Melbourne vs Essendon regular season fixtures occurring only once for a 17th straight year (!) – last time these sets of opponents doubled up were in 2005;
* Sydney hosting Collingwood once again (last time the Pies had a true home game against them was in mid-2013, though they did meet at the Gabba in 2020); and
* the Gold Coast Suns playing Richmond at home for a sixth straight year (though their scheduled match-up in round 17 last season was moved to Melbourne).
* Essendon and Collingwood will each play a game in Sydney for a 24th and 20th straight season, respectively.

But at least there are some long-awaited fixtures that will be returning, such as:
* Sydney hosting Richmond at the SCG for the first time since 2016, when the Tigers lost by 113 points and Damien Hardwick narrowly avoided the axe in the board meeting that followed; and
* Melbourne hosting Essendon for just the second time since 2010.

It is also worth noting that for the first time since 1996, the defending premiers aren’t scheduled for a game in Sydney.

Games you must not miss in the 2022 AFL season

Because that’s the formal name for it.

Games you must not miss in the 2022 AFL season

120, actually – you’re off by just one day.

Games you must not miss in the 2022 NRL season

Wrong – according to Wikipedia, its capacity is 74,140.

No fairytale farewell for James Maloney as St Helens notches Super League hat-trick

No idea, but apparently the UK has now completely opened up; i.e. no COVID-related restrictions whatsoever. The crowd of 45,177 is less than half of Old Trafford’s total capacity.

No fairytale farewell for James Maloney as St Helens notches Super League hat-trick

“they have just one minor premiership to their name, and are only one of three sides to have never won the NRL.”

It is worth noting that sole minor premiership came in the year of the Bulldogs salary cap breach (2002), and it wasn’t until the final round of that season that they would finish a round on top of the ladder. They did deservedly well to reach the Grand Final, only to be beaten by a more superior Sydney Roosters side.

Plus I think you’ll find that it’s actually four teams that have not won a title in the NRL era (1998-present) – the other three being the Eels (0 from 2 Grand Finals), Raiders (0/1) and Titans (have not yet reached a Grand Final). But if you’re talking overall (including the pre-NRL era), it’s two (the other team being the Titans).

Have the New Zealand Warriors been a failure?

Yep, for the most part it was a dour match that would so easily make you turn off your TV, it wasn’t until those last five minutes that the match really sprung to life. In the end, it was the Swans who left the field humiliated, as it was a match they really should’ve won (in commentary, Stephen Quartermain joked that they’d win by 90 points!).

That and the 2005 match (not the prelim but the round 10 match at Docklands that I also mentioned) aside, there were other matches between the Saints and Swans which proved unwatchable – round 1, 2008 another example where both sides combined for just twelve goals (six apiece) and 28 minor scores.

The rule that could have changed the AFL grand final

“being able to claim that they have won the first premiership decider in 114 years outside of NSW!”

Well, that’s not exactly right – there was the Super League Grand Final that was contested between the Broncos and Sharks in 1997, which has mostly been forgotten as many league fans still remember that year as being where Darren Albert scored that try right at the death to win the Newcastle Knights their first premiership against Manly in the ARL competition.

2021 NRL grand final: The ultimate preview

On the topic of flooding, I can recall a game between St Kilda and Sydney at Docklands in 2002 where then-Saints coach Grant Thomas devised an extraordinary plan against the Swans forward line by having his defenders flooded the back half of the field and restrict them from scoring. It worked to an extraordinary degree of success as the Swans could only muster two goals to three-quarter-time, and very nearly won the match with three goals in red time before Daniel Wulf hit the post with about a minute remaining to tie the scores.

Nick dal Santo, playing in just his second game, had the chance to win the match after the final siren but his torp from outside 50 didn’t make the distance.

About three years later, in the same match-up, the Swans tried the same tactics by flooding the ball and continually forcing stoppages, but it backfired badly, resulting in severe criticism from the likes of Andrew Demetriou and Robert Walls that the club “couldn’t win the flag”. Well, how wrong were they.

The rule that could have changed the AFL grand final

Thanks for the heads up, I forgot to pick up that he did play in the 2014 decider.

2021 NRL grand final: The ultimate preview

that’s why the salary cap was brought in – to ensure that every team has an equal chance to win the flag at the start of the year.

After 57 long years, Melbourne finally bury their premiership Demons

Also worth noting that after Hawthorn entered the VFL in 1925, they wouldn’t reach the finals for the first time until 1957. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t take the Gold Coast Suns until 2043 to qualify for September for the first time.

After 57 long years, Melbourne finally bury their premiership Demons

I forgot about Robbie Flower as I wrote this article immediately after the match ended, and didn’t finish it until about 12:30am (before I submit it, I review it to see if there was anything that I potentially missed, but now that you brought up Flower, now I know I missed something) this morning.
After St Kilda’s 55-year drought, Carlton is next with a 26-year premiership drought, currently its longest in club history, followed by Fremantle (which entered the competition in 1995 and has not yet won a flag), the Adelaide Crows (23 years), North Melbourne (22), Essendon (21), the Brisbane Lions (18) and then Port Adelaide (17).
Of those six clubs, I reckon Brisbane is the team most likely to win a flag in the near future, but only if they improve their recent September record having gone out in straight sets in both 2019 and 2021 (losing both of their matches on both occasions to the eventual Grand Finalists).

After 57 long years, Melbourne finally bury their premiership Demons

This is similar to how Nigel Lappin famously played with broken ribs in the 2003 Grand Final. Even if he hadn’t played, chance are the Brisbane Lions would’ve won anyway given just how good they were at the time. It’s also worth noting that both the Scott twin brothers (Brad and Chris) didn’t play in that year’s Grand Final either.

In the NRL, who could forget Sam Burgess playing all but the first ten seconds of the match with a broken jaw? He channeled his inner John Sattler with such an inspirational performance in the 2014 Grand Final.

'Round 14, he's not playing': Demons finally reveal full extent of Steven May's injury

apparently it was incorrectly reported by various media outlets that Petracca had gathered 40 touches; Champion Data revised this to 39.

After 57 long years, Melbourne finally bury their premiership Demons

Must also note, this premiership is also a tribute to Neale Daniher who has done it tough in the past seven years fighting motor-neurone disease. Thoughts are also with the Daniher family at this time.

Also, Christian Petracca’s 40 disposals were since downgraded to 39, meaning he matches the record set by Simon Black in 2003, rather than beat it.

After 57 long years, Melbourne finally bury their premiership Demons

Great to hear from you, Mason! I hope you enjoy the Grand Final this weekend, as I know I will be!

MASON COX: ‘He works his arse off’: Why I’m all in on Gawn

CORRECTION: “…in the final NRL match played at the since-demolished AlliStadium Australia in 2018”

That should read “Allianz Stadium in 2018”.

2021 NRL finals series: Week three preview

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