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July 7, 2017

Sport Saturday: Rugby, St. Kilda, Zimbabwe, Cream

In New Zealand:  Rugby should take first focus today, as The British and Irish Lions conclude their tour or New Zealand at Eden Park.  A victory Saturday would secure a first series win of the team in New Zealand for 113 years.  The teams will compete at Eden Park, Auckland, and each have won one game in their three game series, the All Blacks winning their first game at this same stadium two weeks ago. 

The challenge is, perhaps, insurmountable.  Since their founding over a century ago, the All Blacks have a 77 per cent win record, being one of the most, or most, successful team in the history of sports.   Scotland have never beaten the All Blacks while Wales last beat them in 1953 - 64 long years ago. The All Blacks have won the Rugby World Cup three times - and twice in a row - the only team to do so.  It has been 39 Tests and 23 years since New Zealand last lost at Eden Park, then against France.  Of today’s starters, Leinert-Brown, Jordie Barrett and Maro Itoje were not even born then.  The All Blacks will be playing without their brightest star, Sonny Bill Williams, who was ejected from their last game and remains suspended.  "This game is definitely not career-defining I can promise you that," said Lions Coach Warren Gatland.  Whatever the results, it should be a rugby match for the ages. 

In Australian Rules Football:  Today is a big day for Aussie Rules Footy, with five of the weekends nine games.  The Sydney Swans meet the Gold Coast Suns at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.  The Swans are the form team of the competition after winning four straight, and seven of their past eight games, but they must maintain their run after a 0-6 start to the year.  They have won the last five meetings with the Suns.  Combine that plus their win streak, and chances look good for them.   If the Suns are to come to Sydney and beat the Swans for the first time, they'll need a great game.   St Kilda vs. the Richmond Tigers at the Etihad Stadium.  Richmond has been the strongest team of two perrenial favorites, winning four of their last five meetings.  This season the Tigers have remained hard to beat.  Recently games between the two teams have been low scoring and strong on defense.   St Kilda will need to find a way to break through a stingy Tigers line. Both won on the road last weekend,  Richmond was brave against Port Adelaide while St Kilda won its third straight game against Fremantle. St. Kilda is currently 8th in the standings, Richmond 4th. 

Further down the standings are two big clubs who are having tough seasons, and will meet today:  the Collingwood Magpies, currently 15th in the standings, take on the 11th ranked Essendon Bombers.  This is the 68th meeting between the clubs at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, with 34 wins to Essendon, 31 to Collingwood and two draws, with the clubs having equal wins and losses since 2014.  A 6-8 Essendon has lost four of its past five games (by an average losing margin of just 10 points), including a potentially season-killing fadeout against the Brisbane Lions last week, while 5-9 Collingwood is in danger of losing a fourth successive game for the first time in two years. If it's desperation stakes for the Bombers, then it's absolute panic stations for the Magpies, who now need to win at least seven of their last eight games to avoid a fourth straight season outside the top eight.

In Sri Lanka, in international cricket:  Zimbabwe continues their tour of Sri Lanka, with their 4th ODI (One Day International).  The two meet today at  the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota.  Sri Lanka leads the series two to one, so Zimbabwe, considered the better team, must win both remaining matches including today's, to leave Sri Lanka with the trophy.  Sri Lanka has not done well this season, last winning a trophy in November. Zimbabwe Captain Graeme Cremer, freshly back from league play in Scotland, said  "There's not much you can change in one day. We will take the positives and try and restrict them."  Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews, worried about his team's ability to remain constant, said "What we need is consistency. We can lose one or two games, but if we bat well every day that's great. Some days we don't do well. If we want to improve we need to be consistent."  Overall, the game seems too close to call.  Zimbabwe will certainly come ready to play hard against Sri Lanka for a revenge win,  so the hosts need to play well to have a hope of pulling out a win for the day and the series.

In the United Kingdom, Strawberries and Cream are being served as the storied British Open continues at Wimbledon, with today's action featuring the last day of the Round of 32 in Men's Singles and Doubles, and the Round of 16 in Mixed Doubles.  In Friday's action, Rafael Nadal has advanced.  Today will see action from Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer, who will see a real challenge as he takes on Germany's Mischa Zverev, who he beat on his way to the Australian Open Championship a few months ago.   

1 comment:

Xersex said...

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