Sports in Brisbane
Wallabies have become a rugby powerhouse to be reckoned with as they employ talents of the rising Polynesian community to defeat South Africa 24-20 in Brisbane
By Helen Lauaki and Emma Soloai, Photos by Helen Lauaki
It was a cool night and all the spectators were rugged up, coming through the doors in their green and gold, obviously here to support their favourite team – the Wallabies. Here and there, you’d catch a glimmer of the South African patriots mingled in with the sea of Wallabies supporters. They were not phased though. Obviously they had bought into that old cliché: good things come in small packages.
The South African Springboks however are by no means ‘small packages’. Captain Victor Matfield stands at 200cm, weighing in at 105kgs. Taking over the captaincy while regular skipper Jean de Villers has gone home to get some match fitness, after a a long term injury. Victor Matfield took over the captaincy for the start of the Rugby Championship. Matfield came out of international retirement with the main aim of winning another World Cup and it all started that night for the 121-Test legend. He led this South African team from the front in typically aggressive fashion.
But what about the Wallabies…..?
Steve Moore was back looking to make up for lost time in 2015. Moore is the ultimate professional and commands enormous respect and admiration among the Wallaby playing group. His assured set piece work and robust running game would be vital to the Wallabies’ chances in the Rugby Championship. In a World cup year, Moore is eyeing his 100th cap but he will be firmly focused on team goals, starting with beating the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium!
So who would be the Polynesian powerhouses taking the field for the Wallabies?
Prop – Scott Sio. One of the most impressive young props in Australian Rugby. The son of former Samoan test prop Tevita ‘David’ Sio had playing in a Super Rugby Final and was packing down on the ANZ Stadium turf with a gold jerseyon his back representing the Qantas Wallabies in the biggest cauldron of all, the Bledisloe Cup.
Prop – Sekope Kepu. A front row mainstay for both the NSW Waratahs and Qantas Wallabies. As one of Australian Rugby’s most valued and experienced forwards, Kepu has played in every Test in the past 2 years and started in the past 17 matches for the Wallabies.
Hooker – Tatafu Polota-Nau. One of Australian Rugby’s most popular characters remains a vital cog in the Qantas Wallabies and NSW Waratahs front row arsenal. Renowned for his surprising turn of speed, fearless ball-carrying and untamed locks, Polota-Nau has built a reputation as one of the most tenacious hookers in World Rugby. Born and raised in Western Sydney.
Lock – Will Skelton. One of the modern-day giants of World Rugby. Ready to launch at international level in 2015 after another destructive season of Super Rugby with the NSW Waratahs where he enhanced his reputation as a physical menace both with and without the ball in hand. Virtually impossible to stop in open space, Skelton possesses rare mobility and speed for a big man as well as a dangerous offload, which gives his side the ability to attack off second phase play and creates countless opportunities for his backs sniping around the ruck. Born in Auckland, Skelton relocated to western Sydney with his family as a 10 year old.
Centre – Tevita Kuridrani. Strike weapon Tevita Kuridrani has quickly established himself as an elite centre in World Rugby. The Fijian flyer is the cousin of former Wallabies winger Lote Tuqiri and raised in the same Fijian village as current All Blacks and Crusaders winger Nenami Nadolo.
Wing – Joe Tomane. Joe Tomane has continued his rapid rise in Australian Rugby, producing arguably his best Super Rugby campaign for the Brumbies after adding a further 5 Test caps for the Qantas Wallabies in 2014 to take his career tally to 14. New Zealand born.
Fullback – Israel Folau. The man known as ‘Izzy’ has played in all 29 Test matches for the Wallabies over the past 2 international seasons and is undoubtedly one of the world’s most dangerous attacking players.
Wing – Taqele Naiyaravoro. Fijian powerhouse and a powerful winger has been said to have conjured up memories of a rampaging Jonah Lomu in his All Blacks heyday as he consistently burst through the line and trampled defenders en route to winning selection in the Qantas Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship. The quietly spoken giant.
The game itself was a test of wills, by half time the score was 13-7 to the South African team. But credit the home crowd and the effort of the Wallabies, they stormed back with 10 minutes left in the game. Starting with a penalty to Wallabies, Quade Cooper kicked it for touch. Now in the last 10 minutes of the game.....5 metres out from the Springboks try line and they loose ball control. The next Scrum resulted in Wallabies feeding Folau who goes to the ground! A quick pass to #7 Michael Hooper and he scores a try bringing Australia to within 5. The score is still 15-20 to Springboks with Quade Cooper converting the kick so it is now a 3 point game 17-20 to the South African Springboks.
There is a penalty to the Wallabies at the 78th minute! #12 Matt Giteau takes the kick.....and misses. Crowd groans and the score remains at 17-20 to the Springboks. At 81:41, which is into injury time already, #13 TEVITA KURIDRANI SCORES THE WINNING TRY OF THE NIGHT!!!! WHAT A WALLABIES TRIUMPH!!! The crowd is going WILD!!!!
The Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate is presented to the Wallabies, in a post game ceremony. Dignitaries of ARU are acknowledged as the Wallabies bask in the glory of a hard earned victory. Captain Stephen Moore is called to the stage to accept the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate, acknowledging the South African Springboks and the challenge on the field. He acknowledges his team mates and thanks everyone for their support throughout the year. And the crowd leave the stadium feeling like a million dollars.
6' 7' Samoan makes the Aussie National Volleyball team debut against China
By Helen Lauaki
When Australian-Samoan, Nehemiah Mote walked in to a Volleyball Club in New South Wales two years ago he didn't know much about the game, but he thought he'd - as Australians say - "give it a go." The rest they say is history.
Let's face it, The 6-ft-7-inch Baulkham Hills resident is a natural. He picked up the sport very quickly and was recruited in to the Under 21s National side. According to Queensland Volleyball Association General Manager Jon Gibbs, Mote had - with next to no training - become the starting-six Middle Blocker chosen to travel with the Team to Rio de Janiero, Brazil for the World Junior Federation of International Volleyball World Tournament.
In Nehemiah's own words, "In 2012, I joined a club and we went to the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) in Canberra. A bunch of scouts saw me play for this Team and asked me if I wanted to play professional volleyball. I didn't think anything of it and said, yes. Then gave them my details."
Within three months from the Scouts' call backs and the National squad trials, Mote had secured a spot in the Juniors Squad.
Jon said, "When a guy like Mote comes along - that's something you only dream about. He has a spike reach of 360."
Since turning 21, he has been drafted in to the Australian National Team - known as the Volleyroos. It was a treat for Queenslanders to actually see an International volleyball game played in their State. The QVA we're the driving force in getting a Match of this high level to the Logan Metro Sports Center, which is home to the Logan Metro Volleyball League. Logan also has one of the largest Samoan populations in the State.
There were a great number of Polynesians in the crowd tonight. Rugby League is the main sport of Queensland, but if there we're career pathways in volleyball, I believe that Samoans would jump at the chance to play at this level of the game and also internationally.
There are also 8 Queenslanders playing in the Volleyroos including the newly appointed Captain, Thomas Edgar. The selection is tough, but it is great to see the amount of players from the Sunshine State reach International levels of play.
According to Volleyball Australia, China is ranked 17 to Australia's 13 ranking but Friday night the visitors grabbed centre stage and took out the first series 4 - 1.
Tonight, Australia came back strong and beat China 3 - 0. It was an exciting and exhilarating second match in the 3-Match-Series. Australia won the first set convincingly, but struggled in the second to over power the Chinese. Eventually their skill and sheer determination triumphed. In the third match the crowd we're treated to a come-from-behind 7-point-lead battle raiser series of volleys that ended in a win for the Hosts, 25 - 22.
Nehemiah currently sits on the substitution bench as more experienced players like International, Thomas Edgar and Jaques Bergaud start first. Edgar is a great choice for Captain in that he inspires and leads by example. He scored first - spiking twice in the first game which boosted the Volleyroos confidence. "We wanted to come out more aggressive and stronger and I think that paid off." Thomas said. He stated that they look forward to play against Brazil and other higher ranking Teams.
Australia will keep training and prepare with new Coach, (former Italian Volleyball Head Coach) Roberto Santilli for a future match up against China - the Olympic Qualifying Round. With Brazil, China and other countries on the Volleyroos' match tour, we should expect to see Mote in the starting line up in one of these games.
Like most Samoans he had played volleyball at Church. He says, "I was always playing basketball before, but I converted after high school in to volleyball. The explosiveness of the sport captivated me."
He and the rest of the National Squad will be in Canberra for the final match of the Series.
Samoan player numbers are growing in Australian Rugby
By Helen Lauaki
The amount of Samoan players represented in both the Queensland Reds and the Canberra Brumbies is a majority spread. Scott Sio, Ita Vaea, Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano starting for the Brumbies and Saia & Anthony Fainga'a, Will Genia, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Ben Tapuai for the Reds. They all we're in the starting Fifteen.
The Brumbies triumphed in the end. As a Team they gelled together better and gained 62% more possession in the first half and even better in the second. Ita Vaea and Christian Lealiifano scored in the second half. Vaea worked hard throughout the game and bounced over the Red's try line in the 60 minute time frame. Coach Stephen Markham stated that Ita has had a challenging beginning and has proven to be a great addition to the Brumbies. "He really wants to be a top notch rugby player and play for the Wallabies. I thought he took another step towards that tonight and Im really happy with his performance."
Unfortunately his Teammate had a bad start to the match. Christian missed two penalties in the first five minutes. One his conversion attempts hit the post and bounced back to him. Coach Larkham stated that he had a talk to the 'Inside Center' at half time as he wasn't sure what was happening to him. Lealiifano had started the tournament so well with scoring high on penalty kicks.
"I thought he had a great game. He was a little bit off tonight with his goal kicking but we will look at that," replied Coach Larkham.
The one-on-one with Coach talk proved to be a winner. A much more confident Lealiifano played a better kicking and passing game in the second half. He also outdid himself by converting his own try at the 73rd minute.
Stephen said, "I'm really pleased how he finished the game. Nice piece of attack there at the end, which Christian was involved in. Overall Im pleased with his performance."
Scott Lio was substitued off in the second and Matt Toomua was carried off. Coach Markham stated that it was a terrible blow and that right now they do not know what his situation is but they will be doing tests on him. Matt is also selected in the current Quantas Wallabies side.
Queensland Reds scrum half, Will Genia had a great game. Gaining ball in the line outs and great ball placement in the scrums. Passing was good but the Reds couldn't finish off any combinations. N0.13 Chris Feauai-Sautia almost had a runaway try but was taken down at the Brumbies 10 meter line by Ita Vaea.
The Reds had posession of the ball at start of the game but again couldn't complete their combinations. As a consolation they played a better attacking and defending game than last week against the Waratahs. Captain James Slipper said, "We believed we would win. We were contesting and came away from the first half confident we would come back in the second."
Queensland have a bye this week. Coach Richard Graham said, "It's good that we have a few days to rest. These players have been working hard every week and you can't keep going at the pace this long." He stated that they will take time out for a few days and on Thursday regroup and plan for their next games. "There's still eleven games in the pool stages. So there's enough games to go to win this. "
The inconsistencies and incomplete combinations Graham believes is due to the large injury tally, players away with the Wallabies which means a lot of his players are not playing their usual positions. One in particular he mentioned was Ben Tapuai. Will Genia also has had to play back which is not his normal position.
Tim Cahill scores twice for Australia in win over China
By Helen Lauaki. Photos by Helen Lauaki
Tonight was a media frenzy. International Journalists as far as the UK and China getting up close and personal to speak to the Man of the Match - perhaps the tournament. A fellow Australian journo whom stood beside me said, "he's a freak of nature. One of a kind." This was in response to me and him discussing the amazing Tim Cahill goals. Never a simple kick nor an easy shot. They are always at difficult angles and spectacular to see.
Tim is indeed one of a kind - a gifted, healthy hard working skilled footballer living his dream. "I grew up from humble beginnings and my dream was to play football. Not only for my country but for my dad and myself," he said to me. This young Half Caste Samoan boy from the inner-city suburbs of Sydney has done so much for Australian soccer and he has put the game of football on the radar in the South Pacific.
Cahill, considered too small to play the game when he was high school age scored his 38th and 39th goal for Australia in tonight's match against the China People's Republic. According to the Asian Federation Cup Match Report, that is more than any other player in Australian soccer history.
He scores the first goal within five minutes of the second half whistle. Team mate, Ivan Franjic lines up a cross to Cahill and he puts it away in the net Pele-style. The World Legend, Brazilian Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé trademarked the bicycle kick just through his sheer ability to consistently score with it. Cahill like Pele has made his mark as a Legendary goal scorer and International football superstar.
A bicycle kick is where an offensive player with his back facing the goalie does a back flip while simultaneously kicking the ball at the intended goal without looking at it. I managed to do it once playing for Brigham Young University - Hawai but unsuccessfully. It is a marvel to watch and jaw droppinlgy spectacular when the ball goes in. The goalie never sees it coming.
Now Cahill has this to add to his list of phenomenal goals scored. He will go down in football history as one of the most gifted and passionate players of the game. The No. 4 stated that he doesn't always know what he's going to do.
"I don't think about it. I train hard with everyone and when Im in the space and I feel it, I go with my instinct," Tim said.
The Socceroos knew that China would be a challenge for them and that the key strategy would be to tire them out and keep them running backwards. Australia played a fast paced attacking game from the start. "We wanted to keep attacking them. That was our plan. Everyone did their part. In the first half they were constantly marking me and I couldn't get a clear shot."
Once he did score the People's Republic changed their game plan. They had to if they would have any chance to equalise and even win. They attacked more aggressively and had some great chances of scoring, but the Australian defense team of Alex Wilkinson and Matthew Leckie kept them out of the running. Australian goalie Matthew Ryan made some crucial saves to keep them in contention for the semi-finals.
Once Tim scored his second goal it put any chance of China coming back with a tie out of their grasp. They played valiantly and continued to strike back immediately whenever Australia would shoot at their goal.
Tim said his brother had text him with the message: "Two goals." Once he received that text he said, "I knew I could do it. I knew I would score today."
The second goal was his signature - a header - that came in the 64th minute. Young team mate, Jason Davidson lined up a cross and sends it straight to Cahill to complete the task. As the sign reads: #KEEPCALMAND GIVE IT TO CAHILL. Davidson stated that it means a lot to the Team and he learns so much from great players like Tim.
Another signature move for Cahill is to do a va'a stroke at the posts when he scores. "Yes it's part of my heritage and I want to recognise my Samoan culture. I do it out of respect for my mother and my grandmother."
Tim does much to praise his Socceroo team mates and to acknowledge all the individual efforts that helped make them win. "We are a Team. We had a strategy that we practised and put in to play tonight and it worked out for us. When Coach wants me to step up, I will give it my all and do what he asks."
This was a special opportunity for Queenslanders to see the Socceroos play in Brisbane and it is the first time they played twice in one week. More records were broken during this AFC Asia Cup Suncorp week. The tournament attendees have overtaken the Qatar crowd numbers. 46,067 people watched the game tonight at Suncorp Stadium which is more than at any other venue in Australia. The Socceroos broke China's 14-straight winning streak.
China were the favourites to win going in to this Quarter Final and their supporters were expecting them to win. They played a hard game and made some exceptional breaks and shots at goal. Australia has improved since the FIFA World Cup 2014 and should only get better.
A good proportion of the football players on both sides play for overseas club teams and in international competitions. For them there is nothing like playing for their country. Tim said, "I love playing for my country and I'll do whatever is required of me. The crowd here has been wonderful and it's great for us to have won for them."
Tim commented that he urges all young girls and boys - Samoan and others to pursue their dreams. "Any young boy and girl can achieve what I have. You have to believe in yourself and enjoy what you're doing."
The Korea Republic beat Uzbekastan tonight 2 - 0 so they also advance to the next round. Tim Cahill and the rest of his team will be in Newcastle tomorrow training for their Semi-Final match on Tuesday, January 27th. They will be resting over the Australia holiday weekend and no doubt celebrating their win with family and the rest of the country.
A NIGHT OF ASIAN CUP SOCCER & TIM CAHILL OF AUSTRALIA SOCCEROOS
By Helen Lauaki. Photos by Helen Lauaki
Greeting me with a 'customary' kiss on the cheek, the always gracious in defeat, Australian-Samoan Socceroo Legend, Tim Cahill stopped to chat with me when I burst out an excited “Talofa Lava." Opening up with a smile, he answered all my questions about tonight’s game where Australia went head to head with a formidable foe, the Korea Republic.
His first response was, “It’s always good to play for your country and I feel for us. You could see the fear in them but we were unlucky we didn’t get that goal.”
As much as he and his teammates would have loved to win, some things just didn’t go their way. The first being that Cahill, the Socceroo’s goal machine didn’t come on the field until 20 minutes in to the second half. Coach Ange Postecoglou gave his Samoan General and his other, “make things happen” striker- forward, Mathew Leckie a much needed rest.
Their world class precision football skills benefited the Australians in their last two games. The green and gold Team previously played against Oman and Kuwait and beat them. Both Leckie and Cahill were instrumental in those matche scoring and creating havoc inside the opposing goalie area. Ange’s 1-2-6 and 2-2-8 attacking style created a lethal combination with the dynamic duo as well as other key players.
Matthew who wore the no. 7 polo this evening came on about five minutes before Tim in the second half to a great round of applause and cheers. When Cahill ran on to the Suncorp Stadium field, the crowd went ballistic. Then when the Commentator announced him, there is a deafening round of cheers and applause that follows. When asked what he thought of that, Cahill replied, “Yeah it’s amazing. It’s always great to play at home.”
Within seconds they’re on, both of them create opportunity after opportunity. The first one is when the Samoan No.4 manoeuvres himself into a great position inside the Korean goal area, but he is shielded by the Korean Centre Back defender whom stops him from kicking it in the goal. Another set up play by Leckie gives Cahill another chance to strike. This time the Korean goalie, Kim Jin Hyeon stops the ball from going in. The next attempt would have been a signature Cahill lethal right kick in front of the goal; however, Korea's Defense Forward, Kim Changsoo exerts himself-almost doing the splits-to prevent it.
Tim explains to me, “Leckie, Kruse and myself we seemed to press the defense and cause some problems and that’s our job. When you come off the bench you’ve gotta try and affect the game and make some goals, but unfortunately we didn’t affect it enough that we could pull off a draw."
In the dying minutes there was one last opportunity for Australia to score but Cahill is held back by another defensive player who pulls his jersey collar cheating the European-football-great out of an eminent game equaliser. To add insult to injury, Tim is given a yellow card when the Goalie challenges him within 3 feet of his goal for the ball and ends up flat on his back in agony.
When asked about these 'referee' inconsistencies, the Soccer Superstar replied, “Oh it happens. It’s no big deal. For me it’s unfortunate because I was in the goal and I wanted to score. So I was challenging for the ball. And the Keeper caught me a bit but he got a cramp and stayed down on the floor for five minutes. And so the Referee misconstrued that I’d done something to him.”
Australia had more possession and ample breaks than Korea, but weren't able to capitalise on these. In the first half they dominated 64.8% of the game and 69.6% in the second. And where the Socceroos were not capitalizing on their opportunities, Kim Seung Guy was having a "Block Fest". The final score was Korea 1 - Australia 0.
Both teams had not lost a game until tonight. Australia are now second on 9 points in Group A with Korea now leading going in to the semi-final round. Cahill stated that if they had of drew with Korea, it would be an easier road to the final. They still have a chance and play China next and are aware of what they need to do to get back in the running. Tim said, "Right now we are focusing on our next game, China." He and Coach Postecoglou will be take what they can learn from this game and apply it to their match strategy against China.
2 Samoans Pama Fou and Allan Fa'alava'au are picked for Dubai 7s by Australia.
Qantas Australian Men's Sevens Head Coach Geraint John has named his 12-man squad that will travel to Asia for the Dubai Sevens (5-7 December).
The pacy duo of Greg Jeloudev (ankle) and Allan Fa'alava'au (ineligible) return after sitting out the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series opener on the Gold Coast in October.
27-cap veteran forward Jesse Parahi misses out after breaking a finger in training last Thursday and will undergo surgery today (Monday). Afa Pakalani (shoulder) and Shannon Walker (foot) are also unavailable through injury.
Head Coach Geraint John said: "I've picked a squad that I believe has the attributes to really impress in Dubai. We have added some extra pace and dynamism with the inclusion of Greg [Jeloudev] and Allan [Fa'alava'au] and I feel we have the attacking capabilities to hurt the opposition.
“In my opinion we have a tough pool in Dubai and we will need to be at our very best if we are to progress to the Cup Quarters. Kenya and the USA both have experienced coaches at the helm and have some terrific athletes to choose from, while England have a nice balance to their squad this year and enjoyed some special wins on the Gold Coast.”
Australia opens its Pool C campaign at the 50,000 capacity 7he Sevens stadium against Paul Treu's Kenyan side before a clash against a USA side likely to feature the fastest man on the Sevens circuit in Carlin Isles. England provide the opposition for the final pool clash fresh off the back of a promising tournament on the Gold Coast that saw them finish third.
Australia currently sit joint-seventh on 10 points after the first stop of the 2014/15 series. Fiji are the early series leaders after thrilling their way to victory in south east Queensland last month.
Fans can watch all of the action live from Dubai on FOX SPORTS 2.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens fixtures for Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 5-7 December:
Australia v Kenya, Pool C, 6.36pm (AEDT), 5 December
Australia v USA, Pool C, 9.36pm (AEDT), 5 December
Australia v England, Pool C, 3.31am (AEDT), 6 December
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens squad for the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series in Dubai, United Arab Emirates:
Cameron Clark. Club: Northern Suburbs, NSW. Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Tom Cusack. Club: Canberra Royals, ACT. Hometown: Canberra, ACT
Allan Fa'alava'au. Club: Endeavour Hills, VIC. Hometown: Auckland, NZ
Con Foley. Club: University of Queensland, QLD. Hometown: Fairfield, QLD
Pama Fou. Club: South, QLD. Hometown: Brisbane, QLD
Alex Gibbon. Club: Southern Districts. Hometown: Lismore, NSW
Lewis Holland. Club: Queanbeyan Whites. Hometown: Queanbeyan, NSW
Greg Jeloudev. Club: Sydney University. Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Ed Jenkins. Club: Sydney University, NSW. Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Nick Malouf. Club: Sydney University, NSW. Hometown: Robertson, QLD
Sam Myers. Club: Northern Suburbs, NSW. Hometown: Grenfell, NSW
James Stannard. Club: Souths, QLD. Born: Brisbane, QLD
Great start for Samoa in Gold Coast Sevens Day one. American Samoa's team learning the ropes
By Helen Lauaki, Emma Soloai and Albert Ainuu. Photos by Helen Lauaki
The Gold Coast Sevens which is going on this weekend is the start of the 2014 IRB Sevens Tournament which is the 16th annual series of rugby sevens tournaments for national rugby sevens teams. The IRB Sevens World tournament has been run by the IRB since 1999–2000. This series will also, for the first time, double as a qualifier for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Our team of Helen Lauaki and Emma Soloai are representing Samoans in Brisbane and Le Malae. They will be sending results of the games and interviews with players and fans. This leg of the IRB Sevens is always a favorite for those who enjoy Sevens Rugby because the Gold Coast, Australia is one of the most beautiful locations in the world.
Samoa won their first 2 games against Japan and France. Japan was thoroughly beaten 40-14. Tom Iosefo, Lolo Lui, Lio Lolo and Samoa Toloa all scored tries. Tom had 3 tries. The game against France was closer. Samoa came back to win 19-12 with a try in the closing seconds of the second half. Samoa Toloa scored twice and Tom Iosefo scored once in the France game.
American Samoa made this tournament which a special opportunity which they are enjoying as they build their team's competitiveness. Against Kenya they lost 42-0 and have just completed their game against South Africa which they lost 48-0. Each team has one more game in their pool play.
Samoa will play New Zealand at 5:33 Australian time today for the top position in the pool. We wish the teams from Samoa much success in the next day as they compete for both IRB Standings and Olympic qualifying.
For more on Gold Coast Sevens Tournament go to next page.
Rising Superstar Will Skelton still developing his skills
By Helen Lauaki
I may not be a Rugby Fan, but I have watched a few Super Rugby games from previous years to know it can be as enthralling and exciting as a Rugby League State of Origin first game. The New South Wales Waratahs despite their giving away penalties and committing a number of ball handling errors came out the better of the two in the first and second halves. There were only glimpses of Waratah Left Lock, Will Skelton's brilliant form in the entire game. The first half he made some crucial mistakes which cost his Team points on the board.
Skelton knocked the ball forward and then gave away a penalty to the Queensland Reds in the first 10 minutes right in front of the goal posts. The 2.03 metre Lock at 140kg always has a presence on the playing field, but tonight it's all for the wrong reasons. Eventually his team mate, Fly half Bernard Foley scored two penalties through the posts and converted his own try. This was in the 25th minute. At the end of half time, NSW lead 13 to 0.
The Reds managed to defend somewhat but it was mainly due to crucial mistakes by the Waratahs which stopped the visiting side from scoring early. NSW though dismal on attack fared much better than the home side on defense - ever so slightly. The Reds had so many chances to make a break but failed terribly. Will Genia kicked the ball out on the full and the Faiga'a brothers caused no ripples in the forwards to get any momentum going. The Reds constantly lost the ball through bad passing and bad kicking and when they weren't doing that, they were giving away penalties. The 27,119 crowd - majority QLD Fans constantly sighed over their school boy antiques and amateur performance.
But it wasn't just the Samoan players out of sync tonight, it was their team mates, respectively committing one offence after the other. Despite the lack lustre performance from both sides, there was one shining moment that got the small NSW fans out of their seats. Reds Fly half Nick Frisby botches an easy pass in which a grateful Right Wing Peter Betham scores between the posts from 75 meters.
QLD managed a consolation try in the last two minutes of the game, when replacement Lock, Marco Kotze dived over the line. It was the only time the Reds completed a full set of passes. The conversion was made right on the buzzer when the clock showed 80 minutes. The final score NSW 25 - QLD 6.
NSW didn't get the bonus win but Coach Michael Cheika stated that he was just happy they won.
THE ASTERON LIFE SUPER RUGBY 2015 SEASON BEGINS WITH LAUNCH
179 days after Bernard Foley kicked the decisive penalty goal to seal a maiden Super Rugby title for the NSW Waratahs, captains and coaches from each Australian franchise today gathered at Sydney’s iconic Opera House to launch the 2015 Asteron Life Super Rugby season.
Kicking off on Friday, 13 February when Australia’s newest franchise, the RaboDirect Rebels, travel to Christchurch to take on the Crusaders, 15 teams across New Zealand, South Africa and Australia will vie for the honour of being crowned the best provincial side in the Southern Hemisphere.
Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver was joined by Asteron Life Executive Manager Mark Vilo alongside Super Rugby leaders Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies), Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels), Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs), James Slipper (Queensland Reds) and Matt Hodgson (Western Force) to kick the season off in style.
Mr Pulver is eagerly anticipating another enthralling competition after 2014 represented the most successful Super Rugby season ever for Australian teams, with more wins collectively throughout the season than ever before.
“In my opinion, the Asteron Life Super Rugby competition is the toughest and most exciting in the world. In a Rugby World Cup year, all players in Australia will be keen to push their case for Test selection, with the best way to achieve this through some strong performances at a provincial level. For fans, this means guaranteed drama, scintillating skill and some classic match-ups.”
“The Waratahs set the bar high with last year’s history-making effort, and I’m sure this will inspire the other Australian teams in 2015. Over the next six months, with 120 matches in the regular season, including 20 local derbies, there are so many stories to be told.
“With each Super Rugby club in Australia offering competitive ticket prices for fans - particularly juniors and families - 2015 bears all of the hallmarks of a Super Rugby season not be missed.”
Asteron Life Executive Manager, Mark Vilo said the Asteron Life was proud to partner with the ARU and sponsor the Super Rugby for a second year.
“Last year’s season was a cracker and we are keen to see another season of tough and entertaining rugby for the fans. This year we will build on the success of the Asteron Life Community Coach of the Year, where the other heros of the game – the community coaches, are recognised for the time they give up selflessly to mentor our young rugby talent.”
The NSW Waratahs, looking to be the first Australian side to win back-to-back Super Rugby titles, will kick-off their season with a Sunday afternoon clash with the Western Force – a repeat of last year’s season opener. With excitement machine Israel Folau and the tenacious Michael Hooper in their ranks, the Waratahs will be keen to send Head Coach Michael Cheika out on a high before he takes on the role of Qantas Wallabies Head Coach full-time from July.
Of all of the Super Rugby franchises in the off-season, it was arguably the Queensland Reds that made the biggest headlines with the recruitment of cross-code convert Karmichael Hunt, 44-cap Wallaby James O’Connor as well as former All Black Adam Thomson. Head Coach Richard Graham has assembled a vibrant squad that will thrill fans throughout the competition.
After another successful season that saw the ACT Brumbies reach the final four of the 2014 Super Rugby competition, it has been evolution rather than revolution in the nation’s capital. Stephen Larkham has added to his squad shrewdly, picking up Sean Doyle from Ulster, James Dargaville after a strong performance in the National Rugby Championship with the Sydney Stars and Lausii Taliauli from the Australian Sevens program. The experienced David Pocock and Stephen Moore are also set to return from injury to bolster a strong Brumbies side.
2015 promises much for the Western Force after a fine 2014 season which saw the Perth-based outfit record the most wins in a season (nine) and the most consecutive wins in the club’s history (five). The men from the west, who have re-signed fan favourite Nick Cummins for 2015, finish the regular season with three eye-catching local derbies, playing the Queensland Reds (30 May), ACT Brumbies (5 June) and finally the Melbourne Rebels (12 June).
The Rebels will be looking to make their first-ever Final series this season, showing promise in memorable wins over the Cheetahs and Brumbies in 2014 to suggest that dream could well become a reality. Featuring new recruit Radike Samo as well as the formidable Wallaby pairing of Scott Higginbotham and Sean McMahon, the Rebels entertain their old foes from across the border, the NSW Waratahs, in their first home match of the season at AAMI Park (20 February, 7.40pm AEDT). Rebels’ fans have also undoubtedly penned the ANZAC Day clash with the Waratahs in Sydney (Round 11) in their diaries.
With the ANZAC Centenary occurring in 2015, SANZAR has orchestrated the draw to ensure five matches involving Australian and New Zealand teams are played across this hugely significant weekend.
Back-to-back fixtures between Chiefs v Force and Brumbies v Highlanders on Friday April 24 see the round commence with clashes on either side of the Tasman before a pair of key derbies take centre stage on ANZAC Day.
The Blues travel to Christchurch to renew their rivalry with the Crusaders before the Waratahs host the Rebels at ANZ Stadium in a battle between two traditional Australian foes who will vie for the Weary Dunlop Shield, a trophy bearing the name of a hero whose name resonates loudly throughout Rugby and the armed forces.
Here are the Samoan players in each of the Teams, the 2015 Asteron Super Rugby Tournament - from 3 countries, Australia, NZ & South Africa. Scott Sio, Brumbies, Ben Tapuai, QLD REDS, Wallabies Twins, Anthony & Saia Faiga'a - QLD, Sonny Bill Williams, Chiefs, Lima Sopoaga, Highlanders, Will Skelton, Waratahs, Jerome Kaino, Auckland Blues
Once again, the New Zealand conference looks strong with the 2012 and 2013 Super Rugby title-winning Chiefs boasting World Rugby Player of the Year Brodie Retallick in their ranks while also strengthening their stocks with the addition of superstar Sonny Bill Williams. Last year’s Finalists, the Crusaders, will be looking to make the Finals for the 14th successive year having made minimal changes to their squad for 2015.
The Bulls will be leading the charge out of South Africa in a bid to end the country’s Super Rugby drought – the Pretoria-based side was the last team from the country to win the title back in 2010. The Sharks from Durban finished the 2014 regular season in third place overall and have added wisely with the signings of England international Matt Stevens and Mouritz Botha – both from Saracens in the Guinness Premiership.
Rugby fans can catch all 125 matches of the 2015 Asteron Life Super Rugby season live and uninterrupted in High Definition on FOX SPORTS and selected matches on ABC radio. The opening game of Round One kicks off at 5.35pm AEDT when the Crusaders take on the Melbourne Rebels at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, while the first game on Australian soil sees the Brumbies host the Reds later that evening at GIO Stadium in Canberra.
"They gave them too much respect." Australia plays Chile in World Cup with Samoan Tim Cahill scoring only goal for Australia
By Helen Lauaki
The Australian Socceroos should hold their heads high after this morning's (QLD, Australian time) performance against Chile at the Pantanal Arena in Cuabai, Brazil. Despite conceding 2 goals in the first 15 minutes, due to nerves, they settled and came back strong finishing the first half with a signature goal from Tim Cahill. His header was assisted by a brilliant far-right cross from team mate, No. 7, Matthew Leckie which brought the score difference within one point at half time. This match was the first time most of the Australian team including Leckie have played at world cup level.
Socceroo great and world cup veteran, Tim Cahill, whose mother is Samoan said after the match about his young and inexperienced team mates, "They gave them too much respect. At the start we showed a bit of fear and then when we stepped up and started getting in their faces and rolling them a little bit."
However, once gaining their composure and with Cahill scoring at the end of the first half, their fighting Australian spirit took over. In the second half Australia dominated on attack and until the last 3 minutes were impenetrable on defence. Mathew Leckie's speed created a lot of problems for his opponents. He is one of the main reasons Australia's attacking strategy left the Chile side back-footed for a good portion of the game. Number 22, Alex Wilkinson, made a brilliant save just inches from his goal line stopping Chile from making it 3 - 1.
In the end, the last sub for Chile, No.15 Jean Beausejour, scored 3 minutes before full time.
Australia has proved their critics wrong after their 'never say die' performance in Cuabai. They played their game and kept the match favourites' on edge. Even the Chilean coach was beside himself right until the end. He mentioned in a press conference one day ago that he won't be underestimating the Australian side. A well-marked Cahill managed to beat his markers a few times in the Chile goal area, but he wasn't able to score again. He was ruled offside in one of his attempts.
According to FIFA.com he said, "Last week they were questioning whether we could create chances. Tonight we created quite a lot. We will learn from this and we will go into the next game very positive. We believe in our football, we believe in our structure."
Tim Cahill has scored in every world cup he has played in for Australia and is proud to be Australian. He also has strong connections to his Samoan heritage and to his Samoan family in Sydney. For followers of the game, he will at times, celebrate a goal with a va'a stroke. Rest assured he will be encouraging and mentoring his younger team mates in their next matches.
Currently they are in Group B which comprises of teams from Spain, the Netherlands as well as Chile. This is a tough draw for the Socceroos. Spain beat the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup Final and are the reigning world soccer champions.
Playing in the World Cup: A Dream Come True
By Helen Lauaki
The Netherlands football team broke the cardinal rule of world cup soccer this morning - Don't underestimate the Minnows. Especially when the minnow team is Australia. Italy learnt that lesson at the last world cup losing to New Zealand in a 1-1 Draw and Germany paid the ultimate price when they were knocked out in the quarter finals at the 1994 World Cup by Bulgaria. Unlike the Dutch, the Socceroos showed up at the Estadio Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil to play world class football.
Coach Ange Postecoglou's 2-5-3 player formation was key to Australia's dominance against the Netherlands in the first half and this time his team were un-phased by the mighty Netherlands right from the kick off keeping them on the defensive and constantly well marked.
A frustrated no. 10 Wesley Sneijder was constantly double teamed and shut down, causing him to kick aimlessly missing his forwards, no. 9 Robin Van Persie and no. 11 Arjen Robbin. This time it was the Dutch fans and Coach Louis Van Gaal whom were quiet and on the edge of their seats.
Perhaps they are unaware that Australian soccer is founded on Dutch immigrants and the Dutch style of football. Our own Brisbane Roar morphed out of the original Hollander Team from the post war era. Outclassed and outsmarted, the Dutch team were compelled to be humble and came back in the second half, respectfully, to play world cup football. Van Gaal changed the player formation of his team to 3-2-4 and gone were the smiles and laxed attitude.
The first goals scored in the game played like a table tennis match. In the first half, Arjen Robben broke away from his marker and scored first for the Netherlands. Within minutes, legendary footballer, no. 4 Tim Cahill responded with a pearler goal. Team mate, Defender, no. 19 Ryan McGowan kicked a superb right cross from close to half way which Cahill put away in the goal with a stunning left kick.
Holland’s No.7 Daryl Janmaat gave away a penalty to Australia for a hand ball in the goal area which no.15 Mile Jedinak took full advantage of. He scored first in the second half putting Australia in front by one point. Almost immediately, another legend, Robin Van Persie strikes back for Holland and evens the scores.
One thing a team must never do is make mistakes against Holland because they will capitalize every time. In the end, it was these crucial mistakes which cost the Socceroos their second game. No. 21 Memphis Depay scored a third goal. Ensuring their opposing team's defeat, the Dutch hung on doing everything they could to keep Australia from responding in kind.
Instinctively, the Socceroos continued to play hard creating opportunities, but no. 7 Matthew Leckie couldn’t finish off Tommy Oar’s (no.11) brilliant assists. Even though Australia’s saviour, Tim Cahill, kept the pressure on he also couldn’t deliver them out of a loss. It was the Netherlands in the end that were saved from an embarrassing finish, winning ever so slightly 3 - 2. To cut the wound deeper, Cahill will miss the third match due to getting his second yellow card for tackling opposing player, no. 4 Bruno Martins Indi. He said in the after match interview, “You put your body on the line and sometimes that means you have to miss games.” Despite this, Coach Posteoglou is confident and stated that there will be players within his team who will step up in the absence of Cahill and continue to create opportunities as they have been. He said about the Netherlands, “If they were going to underestimate us, let’s punish them.” No doubt it will be the same for every team that challenges them. They play Spain next and if today’s match is anything to go by, the Spaniards should expect a formidable battle. Australia now have nothing to lose and everything to gain against the reigning world champions whom have also lost their second game going down to Chile 2 - 0. This year, only two teams move forward to the next round.
I do believe that Australia will be missing their little Australian born-Samoan world cup goal scoring star. He was considered too small to play the game but was determined in his youth to achieve his goal to become a professional footballer. Having a British father, the chance came at the age of seventeen for him when he was recruited by the English Premier Club, Everton. The rest as they say, is history. He played for Everton for eight years before embarking on a new chapter of his football career. He now plays for the New York Red Bulls in the American Major League Soccer Cup.
Watching the FIFA World Cup as a young boy growing up in Sydney fuelled his dream to play in the prestigious tournament. He has scored the most goals for the national Australian side and is considered an international football super star. He should also be nominated for the best goal scored in this World Cup. A right-footed player, well-known for his 'header' goals, scoring with his left foot on the full was spectacular and one for the world cup history books.
He said, “It’s a great moment. McGowan shot from the right. It felt so right to hit it. And I hit it sweetly. It’s one of those defining moments as a player you dream of.”
This will be Cahill's final world cup and as memorable as this match will be for him, it is his last world cup game. Since his debut in 2006, he will go down in Australian soccer history as being a major contributor to their World Cup presence from then. In response to his successful career and consistent on the field high performance the 32-year-old said, “I want to leave a mark.” He stated that he wanted to leave something for the kids to show them what they can do too and that their dreams can come true.
Even though he won't be suiting up in the green and gold uniform, he will be there to support his fellow Socceroos and cheer for them against Spain.