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Joined January 2013

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Formerly The Master Mind, I cover mostly AFL and tennis, as well as some NRL and other sports.

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Wimbledon 2019: Men's final preview

What a showdown we’ll have to conclude the 2019 edition of the Wimbledon Championships, with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to duke it out for tennis’ holy grail in tonight’s gentlemen’s singles final. Leading up to the tournament, there was some conjecture over the decision to reverse the seedings of Federer (ranked world number three) […]

Correction: “…their three-point loss to the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium in Round 1…”

It was Round 2, which was what I originally wrote, not Round 1.

All eyes on Gaff in Saturday's spiteful Western Derby

Yeah I heard about James Roberts’ withdrawal this afternoon; tough timing considering I wrote this article yesterday (normally I write my NRL previews on Mondays).

Another tough task awaits the Broncos against the Roosters

SPELLING CORRECTION: “in the lead-up to preliminary final wee”

Should be “preliminary final week”.

Crows soar to AFLW supremacy

I just think the Eagles will be a very angry side this Saturday night. We’ve seen instances like these happen in the past, such as in 2017 when the GWS Giants got thrashed by the Adelaide Crows by 56 points in round one, then beat the Gold Coast Suns by 102 points off a six-day break.

They’ll also want to honour several of their players who will be celebrating milestones – Shannon Hurn (250th game), Chris Masten (200th) and Josh Kennedy (200th game for the Eagles) – with a big win, not to mention the Eagles will also be unfurling their premiership flag too.

2019 AFL season: Round 2 preview

Another loss that also stands out is the 104-point loss to St Kilda that occurred in round two, 2010. Brent Harvey endured the worst match of his career picking up only five possessions (or so). But it’s worth noting that they did hit back with a win over West Coast the following week.

North Melbourne's worst losses under Brad Scott

The reason why Fitzroy went from spooners to premiers in 1916 was because due to World War I, only four teams (Carlton, Collingwood, Fitzroy and Richmond) participated, and all teams were to play finals regardless of where they finished.

Outside of that season, no team in the history of professional Australian rules football has gone from spooners to premiers within 12 months. The closest any team has come to doing this was Essendon in 1907-08 and Collingwood in 1976-77 when they finished last and then finished runners-up. The swiftest rise from spooners to premiers came when Essendon finished last in 1921 and then won back-to-back flags in 1923-24.

2019 AFLW grand final preview

Not only that, the Eagles will also be unfurling their 2018 premiership flag too.

You’ll also remember that Fraser Gehrig, in his 200th AFL game in 2005, ran Leo Barry ragged for the whole match kicking seven goals as St Kilda thrashed Sydney by 43 points.

For Josh Kennedy it’ll be his 200th club game for West Coast (222nd game overall after 22 games with Carlton between 2006-07); Chris Masten also brings up the double-ton (ironically, he was drafted by the Eagles with the pick they received as part of the Judd-Kennedy trade) and Shannon Hurn brings up a quarter of a kilo. Should be a huge night for the club.

Also a shame that the match won’t be on free-to-air in Melbourne given the occasion.

2019 AFL season: Round 2 preview

From what I heard, during the Broncos’ match against the Sea Eagles in round 25 last year they (the players) got told by the trainers not to score anymore at 48-16 because it was believed they would’ve had a better shot at beating the Dragons than the Warriors at Suncorp.

Had they scored another point the two elimination finals would’ve been Broncos vs Warriors and Panthers vs Dragons instead of Panthers vs Warriors and Broncos vs Dragons, and the whole finals series would’ve been totally different.

In the end the Broncos paid the price for underestimating the out-of-form Dragons last September and they won’t want to make the same mistake this Thursday night. Perhaps this could prove a turning point in the head-to-head between the two sides.

Broncos out to avenge last year's finals shocker against Dragons

I just have this feeling that the Lions could be up to something special this year, hence the big call.

Also Josh Kennedy won’t feature for the Eagles; I think they’re keeping him in cotton wool for next week.

2019 AFL season: Round 1 preview

no, the game vs the Warriors is not on FTA. The Bulldogs vs Parramatta match earlier in the day will be the game shown on Channel Nine.

Honestly, it could go either way, but crowd support should get the Tigers home IMO.

2019 NRL season: Round 2 preview

CORRECTION: “In positive news for the club, they’ll get Madeleine Boyd back from a two-match suspension for the clash against her former club.”

It is actually Aasta O’Connor who returns. Plus she never represented the Giants.

2019 AFL Women's season: Round 7 preview

CLARIFICATION: “…their 21-6 defeat being their worst in the season decider.”

Add to that “…in a decade.”

2019 NRL season: Round 1 preview

Cheers.

Personally I’m not a fan of the conference system, which creates the major flaw that certain teams don’t face two clubs during the regular season, though you could end up facing them anyway in the finals (for example, GWS won’t play the Western Bulldogs or Fremantle in the regular season, but if they finished on top of their conference, and the Bulldogs or Freo finished second in their conference, the Giants would host one of them in the preliminary final).

With two new clubs (the Geelong Cats and North Melbourne) entering the league, it creates this vibe of excitement and unpredictability across the season, as those two clubs would be keen to make an impact and, unlike in the men’s league when Gold Coast and GWS entered the league in 2011 and 2012 respectively (both clubs finished last in their inaugural seasons), you wouldn’t want to take them lightly at all.

I’m particularly interested to see how much the Giants can improve in 2019. They’ve gone from a team of misfits in 2017 to one that could seriously challenge for the flag this year. The recruitment of Christina Bernardi, the reigning All-Australian full-forward, to their forward line will make them a team no-one will want to face when they are at their best. Also, as it turns out, they’re the only club this season to play both new clubs (Cats and Roos) as home games.

2019 AFL Women's season: Round 1 preview

When Nine picked up the rights to the tennis twelve months earlier than scheduled last June, what they should have done was recruit their own commentators/experts rather than poach those from Seven (namely Jim Courier, Lleyton Hewitt, Todd Woodbridge, Sam Smith etc.).

I don’t know if Mark Philippoussis ever did any commentary work but he could’ve been a good pick-up for Nine, as would’ve Darren Cahill (I think he has a contract with ESPN, though), Mat Thompson (NRL commentator) and Pat Rafter, among some suggestions.

I also think Nine should seriously consider trying to get the rights to Wimbledon back as early as next year (Seven’s rights to the event expires at the end of this year, I think), and if they do so, they should treat the event better, because the last time Nine televised the event, coverage wouldn’t start until 10:30pm at the earliest, some two hours after live play has started. Seven, on the other hand, started its coverage on 7TWO at 8:30pm.

Final thoughts on the 2019 Australian Open

CORRECTION: “Both registered first-round victories over Ernests Gulbis and Nick Kyrgios, respectively.”

It’s the other way around.

Serena and Bouchard finally set to meet at Australian Open, as Djokovic and Tsonga gear up for 2008 rematch

I’ve been fortunate to see both sportsmen in the flesh in my lifetime. I saw Cahill play twice for the Socceroos (both times last year as Australia was looking to qualify for the World Cup), while I was lucky enough to be at Lowndes’ 600th race (the 2016 Sydney SuperSprint at Eastern Creek) as well as at the recent Sydney SuperNight 300 in August in which he just missed out on a podium finish.

Will be an emotional week for sure.

A huge week awaits Australian sporting fans with two greats to bow out

And another thing…

* Every team will play a premiership match in Queensland in season 2019.

The matches you must watch in 2019

“They dominated in 2002 and won the minor premiership, but they choked during the decider against a brilliant Brisbane Lions side. In 2001 they finished fifth, and since then the highest the Dons have finished is seventh.”

You got the years mixed up. It was 2001 in which they lost to the Brisbane Lions in the Grand Final (the year after they won the 2000 flag), and 2002 was when they finished fifth.

The Bombers are back, and it’s top four or bust in 2019

I was talking about the Broncos men’s side who won their most recent premiership in 2006.

A look back at the inaugural NRL Women's Premiership season

As you may know, most other women’s leagues (W-League, AFL Women’s etc.) are played as standalone competitions away from their male equivalents (in this case, A-League and AFL respectively), giving those leagues somewhat of its own identity and their own space.

Though I would agree that having matches played as curtain-raisers to men’s matches is one way of attracting supporters and “advertising” the competition, it won’t be long before the NRL Women’s Premiership gets its own exposure (i.e. matches are not played as curtain raisers to men’s matches, etc.), much like the women’s Origin was played at a separate time to the men’s Origin earlier this year.

If it is to be played away from the men’s season in the future, I propose that it could take place either during the men’s pre-season (thus putting it directly head-to-head with the AFLW) or post-season (i.e. October-November). Only when expansion occurs would this then be possible.

A look back at the inaugural NRL Women's Premiership season

So did I, it was great to finally see up to 70-odd women finally realise their dream of playing in a professional women’s rugby league competition this year, something we didn’t think was possible over 18 months ago.

I think that only once the league becomes more competitive can we then think about expansion, because the last thing you want is any team continuing to dominate the competition for a prolonged period of time, as well as some lopsided scores.

I have heard that the Melbourne Storm are looking to get a team in by 2020, but IMO that’s a bit too soon.

A look back at the inaugural NRL Women's Premiership season

What a massive year 2018 was for rugby league. Didn’t think I’d be involved in the sport more than I ever have.

Some of my highlights include:
* Attending the season launch in the city
* Attending the final Anzac Day game at Allianz Stadium and watching the Dragons beat the Roosters by 24-8
* Attending the inaugural women’s Origin and then Origin II two nights later, and watching the Blues win both times
* Meeting and greeting the Dragons’ women’s players outside Kogarah Oval
* Attending the Roosters vs Sharks qualifying final at Allianz Stadium after watching the Giants smash the Swans in the AFL final next door
* Attending the NRLW match between the Dragons and Warriors before the men’s semi-final between the Rabbitohs and Dragons
* Attending the NRL Fan Fest during Grand Final week.

If the inaugural women’s season has taught us anything, it’s that the Brisbane Broncos have clearly set the benchmark for the competition as they went through the whole thing undefeated, culminating in them beating the Sydney Roosters convincingly in the Grand Final. The other three teams are going to have their work cut out trying to dethrone them next year.

It was also great to see so many female players live their dream of playing professional rugby league, something we didn’t think was possible as recently as 18 months ago.

Can’t wait to see what the 2019 season brings us!

My top ten moments of the 2018 NRL season

CORRECTION: “it would clear the decks for the West Coast Eagles to potentially host the grand final rematch at Optus Stadium as early as Round 1”

Should be Round 2.

After a dozen years, the premiership heads back west in style

Thanks for the pick-up. I was rushing to get this article written in time hence the mistake.

2018 NRL grand final: Your ultimate preview to the big day

@IAP – that’s because Spotless has a capacity of 24K whilst the Gabba has a capacity of 42,000. These days, the Lions struggle to get a crowd that is over 50% of the Gabba’s capacity, but that should change in the coming years when their on-field results continue to improve.

What Round 1 of the 2019 AFL season should look like