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Dublin: 5°C Saturday 10 April 2021
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View from Oz: Aussie Rules season gets up and running

It was an historic start to the season as Sydney Swans and Melbourne played at out a draw in Round 1.

Brawn GP driver Jenson Button enjoys a quiet moment with his girlfriend Jessica Michibata at Melbourne's St Kilda beach earlier.
Brawn GP driver Jenson Button enjoys a quiet moment with his girlfriend Jessica Michibata at Melbourne's St Kilda beach earlier.
Image: AP Photo/Oliver Multhaup

AFL

ALMOST SIX MONTHS after a thrilling 2010 Grand Final, AFL finally returned this week with the first round of the regular season.

Carlton and Richmond kicked things off on Thursday night with the Blues running out winners by 104-84. I had backed them to win by 20 so it got my tipping season off to a flyer.

That all counted for pretty much nothing though after St Kilda blew it against Geelong to concede a goal with about 30 seconds to go. Cats midfielder Jimmy Bartel kicked an early contender for Goal of the Year in the fourth quarter.

It’s only Round 1 but we’ve already had the first draw as Melbourne and Sydney finished 84 points apiece. Kerry’s Tadhg Kennelly wasn’t involved for the Swans in what was the first opening round stalemate since 1982. Meanwhile there were big wins for Fremantle who beat the Lions in Brisbane, and Essendon who destroyed the Western Bulldogs by 113-38.

Yesterday I headed to Patterson’s Stadium in Perth to watch the West Coast Eagles take on North Melbourne. At the bounce it was still 32 degrees and I spent the first half or so sitting in the direct sun so I’m looking a healthy shade of pink today. The game itself wasn’t a classic but it was certainly an improved performance by the Eagles who finished last season with the wooden spoon.

Andrew Embley, Dean Cox and Mark Nicoski were in fine form and West Coast got home by four points in the end after a ding dong battle. Even an injury to star forward Mark LeCras and a parking fine on my return to the car couldn’t dampen the spirits.

Reigning Premiers Collingwood and Adelaide also picked up wins while Gold Coast had the bye and will make their AFL debut this coming weekend.

Cricket

For the first time since 1992 the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup are Australia-less following the defeat to India on Thursday night. The loss could spell the end of the one-day careers of oldies like skipper Ricky Ponting, fast bowler Brett Lee and ‘Mr Cricket’ Michael Hussey with the next tournament not until 2015.

The knives are already out with a number of ex-internationals, including Shane Warne, believing that the selectors must make changes. Michael Clarke is seen as the prime candidate to take over from Ponting if the captain decides to step down but it may be a while before a decision is made.

On a slightly more positive note, elimination from the World Cup meant the Aussies could go back to supporting their second favourite team – anyone playing England. Sri Lanka did a nice number on the POMS, winning by 10 wickets, and they will now take on New Zealand in one semi final. Fierce rivals India and Pakistan meet in the other.

Formula 1

It was another disappointing home Grand Prix for Mark Webber who could only manage fifth spot at Albert Park to equal his best-ever finish in the race. The Red Bull driver seemed to suffer from a lack of Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) in his car, and was unable to overtake Lewis Hamilton at an important stage of the race.

It is believed that KERS adds another 80 horsepower to the car and it has been reintroduced to the sport following a gentleman’s agreement to omit it from the 2010 season.

Webber was so disgruntled by his performance that he pulled his car over immediately after taking the chequered flag before marching down the pit lane into his team garage. His Red Bull team mate Sebastien Vettel claimed the win ahead of Hamilton and Vitaly Petrov who finished second and third respectively.

About the author:

Neil Sherwin

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