Friday, 25 January 2008

The 1985 and 1994 rugby grand finals - the bomb

The 1985 and 1994 NSWRL grand finals, though very different in themselves, tell together a quite interesting tale of a weapon developed in the 1970s called the “bomb”. In rugby league, a “bomb” is a very high kick into or near the opposition in goal area, which aims to produce a try or to tie the opposition down by a line drop-out.

The 1985 grand final, in which St. George were aiming for a cleansweep of all three grades and started as hot favourites having not lost any of their last ten games, saw Canterbury captain Steve Mortimer use the bomb as a means of keeping St. George in their own in-goal. Although the Bulldogs were able to force a huge number of line dropouts, they only scored one try (but could have scored three or four with better finishing) and were lucky to win after Steve Morris scored for the Dragons.

Apparently the repetitive manner in which Mortimer bombed the ball to Dragon fullback Glenn Burgess was seen as likely to destroy the game if other sides had copied Canterbury. A law was introduced whereby a ball taken on the full in goal led to a 22 (later 20)-metre tap restart, which made the bomb (initially) less effective.

The 1994 grand final is often seen as a perfect farewell by a red-hot Canberra side to Mal Meninga’s career. In fact, like St. George’s unbelievably poor tackling in 1975, Canberra’s big win - which actually flattered Canterbury - was achieved despite quiet games from Steve Walters and Brett Mullins, plus a number of elementary errors and missed opportunities. Canberra took quite a number of wrong options and their ball handling was far from perfect, denying themselves two intercept tries.

However, what watching the 1994 grand final reveals most is Canterbury’s woeful mistakes at the rear. To see them - supposedly a top team - miss every single bomb put to them is utterly shocking. What this really reflects is how Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daley - for all their skill - were taking advantage of the fact that specialist fullbacks were a thing of the past. Stuart put up eight “bombs” during the match and neither Wilson, nor Ryan nor winger Daryl Halligan could take a single one cleanly. A decent specialist fullback would have taken every single Raiders kick on the full rather than dropping easy catches or unnecessarily trying to take difficult ones.

Canterbury used two fullbacks - Scott Wilson and Matt Ryan, who should never have played away from five-eighth or centre respectively. In the 1993 major semi-final, St. George’s Noel Goldthorpe did the same thing to a team that would have had an incomparable record but for this weakness.

So ingrained had the loss of specialist fullbacks become that the causal reader of Rugby League (or I would imagine even the more insider-oriented Rugby League Week) does not realise Scott Wilson should have never played anywhere but five-eighth: almost all his first grade career was at fullback even though he was hopeless there in top company. Even Canberra’s Brett Mullins was basically a winger not a fullback. Having watched Graham Eadie’s wonderful performances for Manly in the 1970s, I can confidently say a genuine fullback of his class would have been worth fifty points (no typo) to Canterbury on September 25, 1994. Had I then been a sports master at school merely watching Canterbury would really have taught me to teach suitable kids the essentials of fullback play to the exclusion of anything else to prevent such an atrocious exhibition ever occurring again. It is true that against other sides of that era who relied less on kicking a specialist fullback was an expensive luxury. However, to imagine a team could, as Canberra did, deserve to win a grand final by fifty or sixty points without playing superlatively well can do no credit to rugby league as a game!

It is honestly a travesty of justice that Daryl Halligan, whose elementary mistakes cost Canterbury twenty points, overtook Eadie - who is about the best player I have seen on Visual Entertainment Group DVDs - in overall points scored in NSWRL matches! Even counting his accuracy as a goalkicker, I feel watching the game now that I would have sacked Halligan just for the tries he gave away failing to catch bombs.

Friday, 18 January 2008

My bank balance troubles

A couple of days ago, when I bought an improved sheet set for my bed (the old ones were low-grade polyester, these "percale" cotton) I became really angry because I had deposited $70 into my bank account and it had not been noted down.

I realised when I checked the problem for a second time after receiving the 1991 rugby grand final between Penrith and Canberra that something was wrong. I was sure I had put $70 into my account, but it was not there. With only $11.04 in my account, I clearly needed the $70 but did not know how to get it into my account. I knew it might take time for the money to come in but when I found my later deposit to increase the $11.04 to $31.04 had got through, I knew there was a problem.

I told the people inside the branch on Lonsdale Street what was wrong and then I had a terribly frustrating time waiting for an answer. After half and hour trying to explain the problem and being quite unable to remember what had happened (the problem being I had no password to deal with these difficult problems) I was connected to the branch on the corner of Elizabeth and Collins Streets where I thought I had deposited the money. I told them I thought I had deposited it on Saturday (later my memory - terrible as it is - confirmed this because I became aware I was at home all day Sunday) and that I thought (being awfully angry at not knowing) I had deposited the $70 on the corner of Elizabeth and Collins Streets.

So angry was I, though, that it was difficult to communicate, and I had to leave in hope. Having intended to watch the 1991 Grand Final in the RMIT Library, I told Mummy I wanted to do this and felt it would ease my anger. Although I hate having aid with money, Mummy said she would re-imburse me if the $70 really was accidentally lost at the ATM as I feared.

Although I have never checked my account out of fear, I was told by the branch that my $70 had been found. Hopefully it has - and I will see on the 24th when my next pay comes.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Yesterday's news

Yesterday, after Uncle Peter said he would pay me, I bought him a DVD of the 2007 AFL Grand Final. Being an avid Geelong supporter, Uncle Peter is naturally excited at their huge with over Port Adelaide - the first time the AFL Premiership has been won by a club from Victoria since Essendon's amazing 2000 team. [I have thought they should relocate a team (e.g. St. Kilda or Hawthorn) to Tasmania as a means of giving the remaining Victorian teams a competitive level of talent. From my experience with rugby on the Gold Coast, I am a bit unsure about that area as a location for sports teams.]

Last night, I had a really unusual incident when I was cycling. I discovered a loose Coles trolley in King Street (north of the CBD) with a dollar inside and thought from memory that there would be a Coles in North Melbourne in which I could get the dollar back. In fact there was no Coles in the North Melbourne shops and I was told to go to Flemington. Leaving my bike as it was too awkward to push both it and the trolley, I found a Safeway, but again no Coles - which I needed to get the dollar I was after! An official in the Flemington pub told me to go north, then west for a Coles, but again there was none and I had still to head north up Ascot Vale Road as the daylight faded.

By this time I knew I would have to give the trolley to Coles in Moonee Ponds - and to walk all the way back in the dark to North Melbourne (given my obesity problems at a body mass index of 33, I didn't mind because I knew I might lose some mass!) My other, angry at not being able to call, finally rang me just as I was reaching Moonee Ponds and told me I would have to get a train back to my bike - and she agreed to pay (very easy as I had some of her change still in my key wallet).

But worse was to come. The Moonee Ponds Coles is not coin operated and I had to ask what would happen to the trolley after I told the officials I had carted it all the way from North Melbourne. Whilst I left the trolley there seeing no alternative and - despite not having a lamp - rode my bike back home fairly easily on the well-lit streets. My mother was still very angry when I finally came home at 23:00 and went to bed after watching a little rugby an hour later.

Friday, 11 January 2008

My class for next year

Last year, a subject called Information Center Management was made unavailable to me because the staff at RMIT knew I would not be able to do the practical work.

I am still very worried about the prospect of not having anything to do for next year, as well as of having to pay an awful fine for not re-enrolling as early as I should have.

Also, the paper is due as early as 10:40 Monday, so it will require me to be in bed much earlier than I usually am.

Dinner with Elaine and Uncle Peter

These last few days my uncle, Peter Atkin and his wife Elaine have been down in Melbourne.

I had dinner out with them tonight and tried to talk to them, but my mum said I was very bad and that I talked too much about

- astrology
- extremist politics
- my mass

She also says I need to be able to listen to what other people want to talk about and not to butt in all the time when they are having a conversation. Often I will finish someone else's question when it is obvious what the last few words will be.

I often find that subjects I do not think will interest me actually give me more interest than I expect. I feel it is purely the urge to talk about what I read quietly without anybody else to accompany me that makes me butt in so often. I really have to learn that much of what I talk about is of very little interest to most people.