Gold Coast Titans vs. Wests Tigers (TV style) – My call (Round 21, 2017)

Yesterday, I called the Round 21 match in the National Rugby League (NRL) between the Gold Coast Titans and the Wests Tigers.

The Titans came into this critical having won their last four matches against the Tigers, and 11 of their 18 matches against the Tigers overall.

The Titans were looking to keep their finals hopes alive, while the Tigers were looking to keep out of wooden spoon contention.

Find out what happened right here, and enjoy my sports commentary!

 

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Sydney Roosters vs. North Queensland Cowboys (TV style) – My call (Round 21, 2017)

Last night, I called the Round 21 match in the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) season between the Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys, which was held at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

The Roosters came into this match having won four of their last six matches against the Cowboys, including three of their last four. They also had a great record against the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium, winning 10 of their 13 matches at the venue.

Overall, the Roosters had won 24 out of their 34 matches against the Cowboys coming into a match that both teams needed to win to realistically stay in the race for the minor premiership.

So, who would grab a crucial victory in the race towards September?

Find out right here, and enjoy my sports commentary!

Parramatta Eels vs. Brisbane Broncos (TV style) – My call (Round 21, 2017)

Last night, I called the Round 21 match of the 2017 National Rugby League season between the Parramatta Eels and the Brisbane Broncos, which was held at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

It was their first meeting at the venue since 2001, and the Eels were looking to extend their winning streak out to five matches.

The Broncos, however, were looking to extend their winning streak out to three, and had won four of their last five matches against the Eels, including their last three.

In terms of recent historical records at ANZ Stadium, the Broncos have a poor record, winning only four of its last 11 matches at the venue.

Who would grab a crucial win, in terms of their premiership aspirations?

Find out right here, and enjoy my sports commentary!

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

The 11th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend at the Hungaroring in the village of Mogyoród, just outside of Budapest in Hungary.

Sebastian Vettel comes into the Hungarian Grand Prix with a one point lead over his nearest championship rival Lewis Hamilton. Vettel leads on 177 points after a late tyre puncture cost him vital championship points at the British Grand Prix, finishing in seventh, and last on the lead lap at Silverstone.

Meanwhile, Hamilton (176 points) cruised to a fifth British Grand Prix victory, which equalled the records of Jim Clark and Alain Prost, which was his fourth victory of the season, and his third grand slam (pole position, race win, fastest lap, and leading every lap of the race) of 2017.

Challenging those two in the world championship battle is Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who is just 23 points behind Vettel in the Drivers’ World Championship on 154 points, after helping Mercedes grab an unexpected one-two at Silverstone, capitalising on the tyre issues suffered by both Ferrari’s after starting ninth on the grid due to an unscheduled gearbox change.

Daniel Ricciardo is fourth in the world championship for Red Bull on 117 points, 60 points behind Vettel after finishing fifth at the British Grand Prix after starting 19th due to mechanical problems with his car in qualifying (although he had a five-place grid penalty for a unscheduled gearbox change), and an early run off the circuit during the opening laps of the race.

Kimi Räikkönen is fifth in the drivers’ world championship on 98 points after a brilliant drive at Silverstone, running in second for the vast majority of the race, and was faster than his teammate Vettel, before he had to pit because of a slow puncture. However, Räikkönen did recover to salvage third for Ferrari, and proved to all of the doubters, including his own team, that he is far from done in his Formula One career.

Talking about being far from done, Max Verstappen’s 2017 season hasn’t really gotten started, but at the British Grand Prix, his Red Bull managed to hold up and be reliable enough to claim fourth in the race to return to sixth in the world championship on 57 points, sneaking ahead of Force India driver Sergio Pérez (52 points), who finished ninth at Silverstone.

Esteban Ocon is eighth in the world championship on 43 points after finishing a position ahead of his teammate Pérez at the British Grand Prix, with Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. (29 points) ninth in the championship standings, ahead of Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg (26 points), who produced arguably his best performance of the season to date, qualifying sixth, starting fifth, and finishing in sixth position in a car that is no where near the standard of the front-runners.

Taking a look at the Constructors’ World Championship, Mercedes (330 points) have extended their lead to 55 points over Ferrari (275 points), with Red Bull comfortably in third position on 174 points, ahead of Force India (95 points), who are comfortably ahead of a great scrap for fifth place, with Williams (41 points), Toro Rosso (33 points), Haas (29 points) and Renault (26 points) all within 15 points of each other.

Ninth in the Constructors’ World Championship is Sauber on five points, with the struggling McLaren on just two points.

Looking at who will be strong at the Hungaroring, the top three teams in Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have cars that should suit this circuit quite well, with some longer, faster corners that should suit Mercedes, point and squirt sections which will suit Ferrari, and a lack of long straights that will give Red Bull a podium sniff.

However, looking at the drivers who have been successful at the Hungarian Grand Prix, only one driver stands out.

That is Lewis Hamilton, who has won at the Hungaroring on five occasions, and while his main objective will be to claim his sixth Hungarian Grand Prix victory on Sunday, Hamilton, on Saturday, will be looking to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 career pole positions in Formula One, and similar to when he equalled Ayrton Senna’s pole position record in Canada, this would be the perfect place to equal this record, given the success he has had here, a place where Schumacher won at on four occasions.

Hamilton is my tip for the Hungarian Grand Prix, and if he does win, he will take the lead in the world championship.

As for the other podium positions, I am tipping Kimi Räikkönen to continue the form he showed at Silverstone to finish in second, ahead of a tight battle between (in no particular order) Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (6pm and 10pm AEST).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 11am and 2pm local time (7pm and 10pm AEST).

The 70 lap race is on Sunday from 2pm local time (10pm AEST).

 

My thoughts on officiating in the NRL

Over recent days, recent weeks, and many, many years, referees and officials in the National Rugby League (NRL) have been criticised from pillar to post from supporters, journalists, commentators, former players, and even from their own employers, the NRL.

They have been criticised for not policing the ruck and play-the-ball correctly.

They have been criticised for not ruling on the obstruction rule correctly, likewise on the laws surrounding the professional foul, with the referees (although giving penalties to the non-offending team) missing many infractions of professional fouls, and not punishing the offending player(s) with 10 minutes in the sin bin.

They have been criticised for not ruling on the offside rule correctly, whether that is a defensive team being within the 10 metres, jumping off their imaginary line too early, or their markers not being square, to whether the attacking team is offside from a kick, to whether an offside player is within in 10 metres of the ball, regardless of whether they were involved in the play or not.

They have also been criticised for not protecting the playmakers, the stars of rugby league, and when incidents like the high tackle/dangerous contact to the head/neck by Canberra Raiders forward Sia Soliola on Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater, the referees, including the bunker, don’t feel they have the ability to send-off a player for any incidence of serious foul play because of the way they are coached.

Did I say coached?

Yes, coached. The referees in the NRL are coached, and train together every single week, and are assessed every single week, both individually and as a group.

They also have a mandate, as delivered by their coaching staff to promote a certain style of play, a free-flowing game of rugby league, keeping within some set guidelines, and are only allowed a small margin of error to move within achieving their key performance indicators (KPIs).

However, is it the best thing in the world for officials in any sport to be constantly and consistently coached in what they are doing?

My answer to this question is an emphatic NO!

The referees in the NRL, as well as in other sports cannot be coached.

Officiating is an instinctive activity requiring interpretation of the laws in which the sport in question is played under.

Everyone has a different interpretation of different laws of the game in any sport, and it is up to that official, and that official alone to officiate the game in question in the best way that he or she best sees fit.

You cannot tell someone how they should referee a game of rugby league, or a match of any other sport because the laws of any sport requires self interpretation.

Any organisation in any field that thinks they can tell someone, or teach someone how they should do something, and say this is the way they must do it will always fail in the end.

You can’t teach someone how they should commentate, you can’t teach someone how to write an article, you can’t teach someone how they should play a particular sport, or coach a particular sport, and you certainly can’t teach an official in how they should referee a game.

You can teach someone the rules of their job, or the laws of the game that they are playing or officiating, but you cannot tell them how they should operate within these guidelines. This is always up for interpretation, and it is up to the individual themselves to decide how they should operate within this space.

However, in the case of Sia Soliola, the damage has already been done!

There is no chance in the world that Soliola is going to receive a fair and just hearing at the NRL Judiciary because of all the public slander the incident has received from nearly all parties, which has bordered on defamation of Soliola, his club, and most importantly his family.

I hope my article gives you an insight as to how officiating in sport, among other things, should always be approached and conducted in.

Wests Tigers vs. Parramatta Eels (TV style) – My call (Round 20, 2017)

Yesterday, I called from the home the Round 20 match in the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) season between the Wests Tigers and the Parramatta Eels, which was held at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Both teams were playing for the Stay Kind Cup, an initiative between the NRL, the two clubs, the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, and the Kelly family in honour of Stuart Kelly, the brother of one-punch victim Thomas Kelly, who sadly took his own life after being constantly bullied while campaigning hard against alcohol-fuelled violence, as well as campaigning for better laws around this societal issue.

The Eels had won three of their last four matches against the Tigers, although the Tigers had won seven of their last 11 matches against the Eels.

Both teams were fired up for a big performance, with the Tigers desperately needing the win to keep away from wooden spoon contention, the Eels wanting to get closer to a finals birth, and possibly push for a top four finish.

So, who would get the vital two competition points?

Find out right here, and enjoy my sports commentary!

Penrith Panthers vs. Gold Coast Titans (TV style) – My call (Round 20, 2017)

Earlier today, I called the critical Round 20 match in the National Rugby League (NRL), in terms of their finals aspirations, between the Penrith Panthers and the Gold Coast Titans, which was held at Pepper Stadium in Penrith.

Coming into this match, the Panthers had won five of their last seven matches against the Titans, although the Titans had won two of their last three matches against the Panthers.

Overall, the Panthers have won nine of their 15 matches against the Titans, although at Pepper Stadium, the head-to-head record was all level at three matches a piece.

So, who would take the vital victory to keep within striking distance of the finals?

Find out right here, and enjoy my sports commentary!