While the Black Caps went the other way, beat Australia and then getting touched up in the final, the Black Sticks lads have got some revenge in the Sultan Azlan Shah cup against the folks from across the ditch as they won the final 3-1 in a penalty shootout over night. The game finished 2-2 with Andy Hayward scoring a double, further enhancing his reputation as one of the better flickers in the world, while Devon Manchester did enough to halt the Kookaburra's winning run in the shootout.
We'll take a deeper dive into the contest, check out how the Black Sticks went about beating arguably the best hockey team in the world, later on today but it's awesome to see this side get a competition win on the board. Australia had won the past three Azlan Shah Cup's and things weren't looking too flash for the kiwis a few days back as they lost to Australia but managed to make the final thanks to a 3-3 draw against Korea. They are proving to be a team on the rise, a team that kiwis can be proud of thanks to their style of play which is typically kiwi highlighted by a great work ethic, team work and a bit of razzle dazzle.
Big up big up to Tai Wynyard who took part in the Nike Hoops Summit for the top high school players from around the land. Wynyard was on the World team along with Aussie Ben Simmons who is widely regarded as the best player heading into college, but we only care about Mr Wynyard. He's committed to the University of Kentucky, one of the top basketball colleges in the USA and notched 11:26 minutes, 2 points and 2 assists. Not shabby considering he's still super young and his game is all about being ruthless, much like Steven Adams.
Seeing a headline that reads something along the lines of 'New Zealand (I prefer Aotearoa) to host FIFA World Cup' is a bit dumb, but what more would you expect? There's nothing wrong with the idea, but the only chance that Aotearoa hosts any FIFA World Cup action is if Australia is on board. While the parties involved will point to our ability to host/co-host tournaments, which we have done recently, let's remember that rugby and cricket are sports that are played by a minority around the world.
It's the usual insular kiwi mindset coming through though, slightly naive. What we should be doing is recognising Australia's ability to host sporting events as they hosted the Asian Cup last year and did a fantastic job. With Aotearoa hosting the Under 20 World Cup soon, we should be banking on Australia's nice job with the Asian Cup and use the Under 20 World Cup to ride along with Australia. I don't think anyone at FIFA will really care about our ability to host a rugby and cricket World Cup, but there's an opportunity for us to showcase our hosting ability with the upcoming Under 20 World Cup. There's no reason to think that we can't co-host with the Aussies in what would be one of the greatest sporting tournaments we've seen.
Sticking with football, there was a time during this current EPL season where I lost interest as it looked like Chelsea would run away with the title. I had fair reason to I reckon as the EPL has been decided quite far out from season end and besides the battle for Champions League spots and relegation, not a lot really mattered. Things definitely turned and weirdly it's involved both Niche Cache teams with my Arsenal storming up the ladder and the Wildcard's Manchester United doing the same. Arsenal defeated Burnley 1-0 while United touched up City in the Manchester derby 4-2 which means that United are a point behind Arsenal who are six points behind Chelsea. It looks like Chelsea will still probably win with ease as they have a game in hand, but ya never know do ya?
Spare a thought for Australian cricket, they've lost Phillip Hughes and Richie Benaud in a matter of months.
Once again, rugby league folk are left discussing referee/rule flaws after a weekend of action. That's the main problem that the NRL faces as instead of people talking about the wide range of entertaining footy on display, people ignore that and want to highlight general confusion/stupidity. It's all good if this happens every few weeks, if a ref has every-so-often-clanger, that's fine, but for something to pop up every week simply distracts everyone from the action. There hasn't been much common sense shown by the NRL lately, but you'd have to imagine that it will get to the point, much like player behaviour, where the distraction becomes too much and starts to ruin the on-field product.
;As you were probably well aware of, it was Manu Vatuvei's 200th game in the NRL. Lovely occasion, it was great to see everyone celebrate Manu and seeing him walk on to the field, past a haka, with his daughters, almost tearing up, almost made me tear up. However, Manu is in the middle of a little contract discussion and make no mistake that the Warriors were showing him how green the grass is in Auckland. Don't expect Manu to do anything but re-sign with the Warriors.
Steven Adams, Upto Bro?
vs Sacramento Kings - 31 minutes, 6 points, 4 blocks, 11 rebounds
From The Weekend
Blues 16 - 14 Brumbie
Crusaders 20 - 25 Highlanders
Waratahs 18 - 32 Stormers
Force 15 - 24 Cheetahs
Lions 23 - 21 Sharks
Bulls 43 - 22 Reds
Steel 57 - 63 Magic
Vixens 48 - 55 Firebirds
Thunderbirds 56 - 49 Swifts
Tactix 51 - 66 Fever
Melbourne Victory 0 - 1 Newcastle Jets
Perth Glory 0 - 3 Sydney FC
Adelaide United 2 - 3 Brisbane Roar
Central Coast Mariners 0 - 1 Western Sydney Wanderers
Melbourne City 0 - 0 Wellington Phoenix