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The international sporting season kicked off for us last night in Geelong in what's become something of an annual pilgrimage to watch a New Zealand team and the Rebels in a warm-up game ahead of the Super 15's start later this month. We dined at Shiraaz Indian restuarant, excellent food and $130 for 3 people, recommended. As reported by The Age this morning:
REBELS TRIUMPH The Melbourne Hurricanes have won their second straight Super Rugby trial match, finishing strongly to keep out the Hurricanes 24-22 at Simonds Stadium in Geelongh on Saturday night. The Rebels held the New Zealand team scoreless in the final 34 minutes. Melbourne's two tries were scored by Hugh Pyle and Tom Inglis.
A bit of a joke on the writer's part because the Hurricanes used the game for scrum practice and turned down kickable penalty after kickable penalty in favour of scrums, during which the Rebels generally folded except once when they got an early hit and won a penalty. Meantime the Rebels used the game to test their mettle and composure, and played it like it was a test match albeit in the Australian model, where you try 50/50 stuff such as kicking away possession and hoping it comes off. This early in the season, with players still rusty, it's worth playing those odds. Two Hurricanes players limped off injured, a cruel thing to happen in a pre-season game. Scott Higginbotham improved the Rebels pack considerably when he came on in the second half.
This was a histrionic occasion, being the first time rugby has been played under lights in Geelong. The usual several thousand people turned up, to sit in a grandstand facing the full setting sun at the end of a 38 degree day and to be blasted by a DJ who played loud. The cloud cover set in over the westering sun, the cool change came through, and the DJ chose reasonable music even though we still couldn't hear ourselves speak, so it could have been much worse.
Geelong's new Mayor Darryn Lyons turned up and said a few words at half-time. I'm impressed, he was mercifully brief and still instilled enthusiasm for a city where 4 out of 5 shops we walked past last night are empty, for sale or for rent. I think Geelong's in better hands with him than they would have been with the party apparatchik that the Liberals cocked up the installation of at the last local election.
Bledisloe Cup this weekend. Wobblies vs the All Blacks.
From the test matches played already this year, it's a vintage year for seeing players at the peak of fitness and ability doing their utmost. Now that's sport! I hope it's a terrific game this Saturday.
There is no broadcast free-to-air of the Lions tour games on Melbourne TV, neither live or delayed*.
So much for anti-siphoning.
There's also (almost) no mention of the Lions Tour in the local newspapers.
It's crazy! A Lions tour is the biggest rugby event outside of the Rugby World Cup. To put this in perspective, the Rugby World Cup is ranked among the top ten global sports occasions.
I couldn't even find a radio commentary here in Melbourne.
Hooray for internet radio!
I've just listened to commentary broadcast from New Zealand's Radio Sport station.
Tonight they broadcast the game in Canberra between the British and Irish Lions vs the Brumbies.
The Lions had two kicks for goal hit the posts and bounce away, and lost by two points. 14-12.
A famous victory for the Brumbies! Well done the underdogs!
*except for the test matches.
Really looking forward to the First Test this weekend.