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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

[Sport] The Super Duper 12 (and a draft)

I promised rugby and by God I’m going to deliver!

Except that we had friends down for the weekend and so I didn’t see a single game.

I saw the news that Justin Marshall has now played 100 Super 12 games. Anton Oliver (107) and George Gregan (126) are the only players who have played more. By the way, neither the Herald nor Stuff knew how many games Gregan or Oliver had played.

Andrew Mehrtens is now the highest point scorer in the history of Super 12 with 972 (Mehrtens also holds Super 12 records for: the most points in a season – 206 in 1998; most penalties in a season – 43 in 1999; most conversions in a match – 13 vs. the Waratahs in 2002; and most dropped goals in a match – 3 vs. the Highlanders in 1998). He passed Matt Burke’s old mark (959) with a penalty in the Crusaders win over the Cats. Again, neither the Herald nor Stuff knew what the mark Mehrtens passed was.

With seven bonus points the Waratahs still lead the competition. Who is really leading? Well if we remove those stupid bonus points the ranking are like this:

  1. Highlanders (6-1-1) = (w-l-d)
  2. Waratahs (6-2-0)
  3. Crusaders (6-2-0)
  4. Blues (6-2-0)

The tie break is decided (as it should be) by “points-differential” (i.e. Points For minus Points Against).

Blues midfield back Rua Tipoki (B.O.P.) has been suspended from all rugby for three weeks after striking Stormers' Jean de Villiers in their Rebel Sport Super 12 match in Cape Town on Sunday. The incident was off the ball and opened a cut on de Villiers face. We here at the Hammer do not look kindly on violence in sports (including fan violence); but, as has been said in the past: They’re not playing tiddlywinks. The television replay showed Tipoki being first tackled without the ball and then held on to by de Villiers well off the ball. Tipkoi turned and popped him one in the chops. Perhaps three weeks is the correct amount of time for such an offence. Send me “angry talkback radio” style comments about this if you want.

[The next paragraph is written as a conversation]

Sport Pundit: Norm Maxwell is off to Japan!
The Hammer: Um, so?
Pundit: Well, he was a great player for both the Crusaders and the All Blacks.
Hammer: No he wasn’t, as a lock he wouldn’t even have a shot if it wasn’t for the fact that both the Waikato boys (Robinson and Gibbes) are injured, and what does it say about Maxwell that you’d pick Ali Williams ahead of him.
Pundit: Yeah, but he...um…
Hammer: What? Caused a lot of penalties? The weirdest part of this whole deal is that it means Reuben Thorne might make it back into the All Blacks.

Did any one catch the Draft on the weekend? (Yeah I know this is American Football but I didn’t have anything else to say about rugby). Maybe you saw the replay? Nah probably not (because there was no coverage at all, except maybe on Sportscenter). Still here is what you can see on Sky:

Date: Tue 26 Apr 2005 14:00PM
Duration: 60 Minutes
Channel: ESPN
Genre: Sports
Censorship: G
Synopsis: 2004 National Scrabble
Championship from New Orleans Downtown Marriott in New Orleans, LA, USA.

There were still a few surprises. The second best QB in the draft, Aaron Rogers, didn’t go until pick #25 (Green Bay). The Vikings and Cowboys made out like bandits and San Diego followed them.

CBs flew out the door left right and centre. But Antrel Rolle (the best CB in the draft) wasn’t the first selected (he finally went to Arizona). Tennessee selected Adam “Pacman” Jones ahead of Rolle because Jones was better in a man-to-man coverage. They may also have picked Jones because they know he isn’t as good and so does he and they could negotiate a smaller deal (because the Titans are in salary cap hell).

Pat Kirwan on Jones: Adam Jones, a bit of a surprise as the first corner, but he brings the best man-to-man coverage skills and almost a 15-yard punt return average. When your team wants to blitz and play pressure defense, this is an excellent choice.

The Jets had no first round pick, but with their first pick in the second round they took a kicker, Mike Nugent. I actually was not surprised, look out Doug Brien, that shanked kick against the Steelers may have been your last.

Before the run on CBs, RBs were in fashion with three going in the top five. Ronnie Brown went to Miami, Cedric Benson went to Chicago and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams went to Tampa. Of these three I see great things from Brown and Benson but from Benson earlier, he may even get rookie of the year.

Pat Kirwan on Benson: Cedric Benson is a sure thing in the NFL. He's done it as the 'bell cow' back. In Chicago, he will force teams to bring the safety down into the box and open up the passing lanes for Rex Grossman. Benson is no Ricky Williams, but he has cutback vision like Curtis Martin. He may never have a 40-yard run, but there will be plenty of 15-yard carries. Benson will finish his rookie season with over 1,000 yards.
Vic Carucci on Benson: The Bears had long targeted Benson for this pick. Like the Dolphins, they want to establish a power-oriented foundation. And there isn't a more powerful back in this draft than Benson. He might not have Ronnie Brown's speed or hands, but he can be a consistent workhorse, pounding between
the tackles. And that will help make Lovie Smith's defense better while also helping to take pressure off of young quarterback Rex Grossman.

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