Sunday, March 18, 2012

Match Review: Sharks v Sheagles

Date: 19 March 2012
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Conditions: Wet and greasy
Score:
Cronulla 17, Manly 14.

The first half of football by the Sharks was their best half of footy so far this year. With an abundance of possession the ball was moving freely, our second phase play was looking slick and our boys were breaking the line on a consistent basis. The only thing that had stopped us from going into the sheds with an even bigger lead than 17-0 was what is now becoming a worrying trend - the inability to finish off opportunities. Ask Stone Hands Pomeroy about fumbling a grubber kick your grandma could have gathered and touched down.

Then came the second half where we started with a hiss and a roar...and it pretty much went downhill from there. For 65 minutes our defence was terrific, but as we all know it's the last 15 minutes which are the most important. There is absolutely no reason why we should have let them back into the game. Shane Flanagan said what every Sharks fan was feeling in those last 5 minutes - that it was gonna be a repeat of last year's game. (Had it been, I'm pretty sure I would have gone and cracked some Manly scum in the face, setting off another brawl like last year also. Of course, had that happened I'd probably be in the morgue.)

Manly, however, did not deserve to win and I'm not just saying that as a fan of theirs. They were ill disciplined on defense - Tony Williams in particular should be getting a long stint on the sidelines despite whatever bullshit flows out of Geoff Toovey's mouth - and lacked any real offensive spark until the last 20 minutes. Our defense did a good job of shutting them down but when they did get chances they too failed to convert them. One particular example that comes to mind was a first-half break by Michael Oldfield which would have led to a certain try had Williams not dropped a catchable pass.

Still, when all is said and done we got out of the game with the first win of the season. And God it felt good to belt out Up Up Cronulla. As I told my mum when I got home, I'd almost forgotten how good winning felt.

Danger Signs: Two big ones. Firstly, the near-collapse in the last few minutes. Other than 2008, this has seemingly been a trait of every Sharks team of the last few years - not specifically late game meltdowns but just the inability to play a complete 80 minute game on both offense and defense. When we do so we can beat anyone.

Secondly, the same thing I mentioned earlier that has bugged us all season - the sheer inability to convert offensive opportunities. Look at the stats. We lead the league in metres gained by a significant margin. Same with offloads. And we're second equal for line breaks behind just the Doggieeez. We should be putting 30 points on teams and we would be if we could get it together in the red zone. Thankfully tonight we saw the boys move away from the horribly predictable game plan down there of recent years with a lot more ball movement. I would however like to see us reducing our reliance on the bomb as a fifth tackle play, but I'll have more on this later.

Positives: Actually there are plenty. Even in the wet our offense continues to sparkle and threaten in our own half, something we haven't seen in years. The second phase play continues to be smart and effective. Our defense was rock solid for most of the game.

And, of course, the unstoppable half man/half android that is Paul Gallen/God. I'll just list his stats here:

30 runs for 249 metres.
34 tackles.
3 offloads.
80 minutes.

Any other player, these would be near superhuman. For Gal it's almost got to the point where this is another day at the office for him, that we as fans expect this kind of performance. He's getting to a point where if he has another few good years we're not just going to be talking about him as a future Sharks Immortal but a future rugby league immortal. No one in the game today has a bigger motor, plays with more heart and continues to inspire his men through his work.

Flanagan moved him to prop tonight, the position where he turned in an Origin performance for the ages last year and where I along with many other Sharks fans believe he is best suited. If Gal has a flaw it's that at times he tries to sometimes do a bit too much. Again, it's just because he cares, but he shouldn't be trying to play five eighth or even act as a distributor when his greatest skill is running the football. He has a nice offload at times but he should keep his ball playing to that. At prop he doesn't feel the pressure to do so and can focus on brutalizing the other defense - of course a great game by our halves tonight helped. Todd Carney had his best game in Sharks colours and Jeff Robson was a surprisingly effective foil with a solid kicking game.

Conclusion: The good signs we've seen so far this year continued tonight. For the first time in ages we seem to have a genuinely threatening offense and our defense held them down for most of the game. If the boys learn to execute consistently and defend for 80 minutes we have a shot at becoming one of the best teams in the comp.

I'm out. Gal be with you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kings Cross Chronicles, Part 1

(Author's Note: This blog is a mixture of things that includes sports talk, music rants, pop culture bullshit and my various perverted tales. This is the latter).

Everyone knows the saying, "Nothing good happens after 2am." How I Met Your Mother dedicated a whole episode to the idea. However, it's also a saying that I have continually ignored over my life.

As far as I can tell, everything good in this world happens after 2am. When I was a young lad I learnt that the cable channels showed dirty movies with breasts at this time on weekends, so I'd sneak upstairs to the TV room while my parents slept and watch away. Later, I would go on to figure out that since a lot of pubs begin winding down after 2am, this is the best time to find an actual woman to take home to re-enact those movies.

However, there are times when conventional wisdom can be right. Like a few weeks ago.

If nothing good happens after 2am, then it's a near guarantee that nothing good happens in Kings Cross after 2am.

Yet there I was, wandering around drunk and horny as a caged bull. I had just spent a couple of hours in a strip club, taking advantage of my friend the DJ to get in free and enjoy a bunch of absolutely not free lap dances. When you get teased for an hour straight you tend to want to do the real thing. The amount I'd had to drink (not quite Ash-ed stage, but definitely just a few drinks away from being so on Darlinghurst Road) and the stuff I'd stuck up my nose only further served to impair my notoriously questionable even when sober judgement.

Unfortunately, by this stage I was clearly too pissed to even be allowed entry into a bar. The Trademark and the Empire both had security guards tell me to fuck off, and when I attempted to raise my reasonable objection to this request I simply got glares that could melt steel from a 150 kilo Poly bloke who could probably have broken my arm with one hand. Even when pissed I have a pretty good sense of self preservation.

As I slink away from the empire, though, I hear the call of the Kings Cross Hooker.

"Hey baby. You wanna have some fun?"

(Can also be considered the universal call of the hooker anywhere).

Now, what would a sensible, rational person do? He would politely decline, get in a cab, go home, call the night a loss and perform the Stranger to something off xvideos.

What do I do?

"How much?"

"$160."

"I'll do it." Having just been paid, I was also cruising the Cross with a wallet full of money. Alcohol, cash and stupidity = a truly lethal combination. Generally I only have the former and latter which probably explains how I am still amongst the living.

Anyone who's ever hired a street hooker knows how it goes from here, only she took me to her apartment rather than to a dodgy motel. Or what I think was her apartment.

"Ok...so what am I getting for $160?"

"Missionary. Protected."

"Nothing else? Fuck...what about a blowjob? Or at least I get to eat your pussy?"

"That's extra."

"Shit. OK..."

"Look, why don't you go have a shower and we'll negotiate a fee later?"

I stripped down right there (talk about modesty!) and stumbled my way into the shower, let the water run for a while (couldn't find soap) and, by now a tad more sober but still not enough to make a rational decision, stepped outside to see she wasn't there. OK, fair enough. I came prepared. As much as I like it when I get a condom put on by a mouth, that would surely be another extra. Lie on bed, raging boner, wait for her to come back. Still a little woozy.

Next thing I know she's returned and her lips are around my cock.

"What..."

She raises a hand. Sweeeeeet. I'm getting this shit for free. I'd better be.

I won't give all the details of the sex cause only perverts wanna know that shit. Let's just say that it was good, and as I pulled my pants on and climbed into a taxi home I was a happy man.

Until I had to actually pay the driver.

Shit.

Where's my cash? I had...no. No. No. Fucking bitch stole it from me!

I'm a fucking idiot! I left my wallet in my jeans and dumped them on her floor when I went to shower. And I had a whole wad of cash in there. A load of cash and a prostitute? I of all people should have known better. How many times did I steal from johns? Alcohol, you bitch arse cunt. You make me lose all my senses.

My first instinct was to go back and get it. Yeah. Fat fucking chance of that. This explains how I got a BJ for free. Plus there's no way I could afford a cab back to the Cross.

No choice but to just quietly put it on my card, slink home and remember why they say nothing good happens after 2am.

Even when I think I win I lose.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gregg The Bounty Hunter: Who Gives A Shit?

By now, every NFL fan and anyone who follows NFL fans on social media has at least a working knowledge of the Saints' bounty scheme, where defensive players were paid extra to injure opposition offensive stars. I can't and won't bother re-hashing the details, but needless to say that then-Saints DC Gregg Williams (who's now accused of running a similar scheme in his stints in Buffalo and Washington) and some of the players involved are in hot water. Williams may be facing a ban from NFL coaching and will certainly be suspended/fined, and the Saints will probably lose some draft picks.

Now here's the question I have to ask. Who gives a shit?

If you didn't believe that this sort of thing is common in football at any level, forget about the NFL, then I want to visit your world of happiness and pixie dust. The Saints aren't wrong cause they did it - they're wrong cause they were caught. I'm a die-hard Raiders fan and there is no way in hell you can convince me that Al Davis wasn't doing the same thing with our defensive guys in the 70s, even though you'll never hear them admit it and rightly so. To this day, I can guarantee you that most (if not all) teams do something similar. Maybe not quite to the extent of the Williams bounty scheme but you will have coaches or star players buying dinner, fronting some cash or similar for the dudes who knock out QBs or RBs with good hits.

As with many things relating to football (and other American sports) I'm not sure if my confusion relates to some sense of American outrage that I don't possess. Shit, I remember my old under 11s footy coach telling us at halftime that whoever put in the hardest hit on the opposition's best runner and scared him the most would get double at Maccas after the game. Hardest legal hit, mind. If I have a problem with the Saints' scheme, it's that it would appear that it encouraged a level of illegality in hits - but even Kurt Warner admitted the hit that ended his career was legal. So I don't think even that's a big deal.

Whatever the reason, I can tell you for sure that I'm just waiting for this non-story to get out of the way so we can start focusing on the real stories in football. Like ManningWatch. Right now I'm prepared for a week of wall-to-wall coverage on every meal Peyton eats, every book he reads to his kids and every poop he takes while Jimmy Irsay tweets his genitals and no one cares until the announcement is made.

Peace out sluts.