There's no 'i' in team, but there's 'eat' and we've been given two great examples in a month or so of how much eating can be done when a sports team is all in and performs as such. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals on the back of a strong team effort, everyone knew their specific role within that team and they were good enough to execute that role. The Otago Highlanders, in defeating the Wellington Hurricanes and lifting the Super Rugby trophy showed what's possible when everyone is on the same page and it was a win for the collective power of a team, opposed to individual performances.
Before we go any further, Eliott Dixon's try wasn't even close to being a try and while it was kind of crucial as it give the Highlanders a nice little boost going into halftime, the Hurricanes can't do nothing but look at themselves as to why they lost the final.
Singling out a player from the Highlanders who was crucial in that final is wrong, they came to Wellington with a game plan and were just too good for the Hurricanes. Both teams played at a frantic pace, which was intriguing because you knew that either both teams couldn't keep that up for the whole game or that one team would call the other's bluff. The Highlanders did the latter and in the second half they came out and despite not really having any proven finals experience they just closed the game out. Being able to quieten the Hurricanes who possess a range of attacking weapons is no easy task, but it's a task made a hell of a lot easier with 22 blokes who are all keen to just do their bit.
It's amazing what can happen when a team has a smart game plan and everyone can do their job to execute that game plan, shout out to the Highlanders who are eating ... and drinking.
The final was a reasonably exceptional display of rugby and I don't think any of us should take it for granted. Playing quickly, at a borderline frantic pace is a staple of the All Blacks but I'm not too sure if we are going to see such a brand of rugby played this year, even in a World Cup year. We'll get a nice opportunity with the All Blacks taking on Samoa, but with a bunch of players getting handed debuts and a Samoan side who will look to spoil the party, I think we're going to be brought back down to earth.
Sidenote - this game in Samoa feels like a 'no my willy is bigger than yours' contest amongst politicians and media people.
Queen Val returned to the shot-put circle in the IAAF Diamond League Paris event, but understandably she was well off the pace after being out of action for yonks as she had surgery on her elbow. Adams finished in fifth with a throw of 18.79 metres with the winner in Paris Christina Schwanitz's throw of 20.31 metres doing the business.
Much of the attention is zoned in on Adams' winning streak of 57 straight wins being broken, but it would have been foolish to expect that she'd come straight back into contention after being out of action for so long. It's merely her first step her road to another gold medal in Rio and here's what she told the IAAF afterwards...
“I took a risk and came to compete against all the best current girls,”
“I knew the winning streak was in danger, and I lost it. But I do not feel that sorry. We can start again, and with better execution I will improve.”
To be honest, the headlines about Adams' loss here seem to be pretty damn negative as they only focus on her streak being broken but the fact that Adams knew that her streak would most likely be broken as she returned from injury should put this into some perspective.
Ugh, the Americans have won the FIFA Women's World Cup and out of my dislike for American football fandom, I won't speak on the result. You can just watch...
After promising so much, the Black Sticks ladies have suffered a similar result to the men as they have finished fourth at the World Hockey League Semi Finals in Antwerp. The lost their third/fourth playoff to Australia after the Aussies scored two quick goals early on and kept the kiwis away for much of the contest before the Black Sticks scored two goals late to make it 4-2.
Sally Rutherford made a bunch of great saves for the Black Sticks, but it's another disappointing result for the kiwis and it means they'll have to beat Australia in the Oceania qualifying series in a few months to qualify for the Olympics.
The 2015 Pacific Games are underway! Coming at you from Port Moresby in Papa New Guinea we got a few footballin' results that got a few headlines, which in itself is extremely poor as coverage in Aotearoa has been very limited, besides the big scorelines in the football.
We had our first medal with 19 year old weightlifter Charlotte Moss of Auckland picking up a bronze. Moss was competing in the 59kg class, while fellow wieghtlifter Paige Lawgun of Whangarei was also mightily impressive as the 16 year old won gold and a bronze in the Youth and Junior Oceania Championships. The Pacific Games also doubles as the Oceania Championships for the weightlifters, where Lawgun's results came.
The Under-23 All Whites side are two wins from two games with a 2-0 win over the Soloman Islands followed by a gritty effort against host PNG for a 1-0 win. Monty 'Python' Patterson has scored in both games to lead our goal scorers with two and the kiwis have sealed a final four spot, with their next game against New Caledonia tomorrow. Here's some cool stuff that I've found from the Pacific Games so far....
Jarryd Hayne Watch
The Hayne-plane is taking a bit of time out right now to have surgery on his foot to remove a cyst, which apparently doesn't take a whole lot of healing and he'll also be enjoying a bit of State Of Origin action. All this comes in a six week window of what is effectively pre-pre-season training in the NFL and I've scoured the interwebs to see what how Hayne's been looking. At the moment it looks like Hayne's best chance will come as a kick/punt returner, that's where he's got the greatest chance of making the cut, but he's been getting a few reps in as a running back and wide-receiver as well so if he can impress there then that could open a few options up.
Here's a bunch of quotes describing Hayne...
Australian rugby league import Jarryd Hayne caught three short passes out of the backfield in the red-zone period. For a beginning football player, Hayne was able to demonstrate soft hands and solid route-running skills.
Former Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne has terrific hands—that's the first thing you notice when you watch him practice.
Catching punts is easy to him, even in the Santa Clara wind. Typically, Niners punt returners spend all offseason getting used to the wind. During offseason practices they misjudge the flight of the punt all the time. It's part of their learning curve.
I didn't see Hayne misjudge one punt Thursday afternoon. I didn't see him drop a punt either. At one point he caught a punt while he was holding three other balls—that's how good his hands are.
During team drills, he caught a few passes out of the backfield as a running back. He easily extended his arms and snatched the passes that were thrown away from his body.
"It's a little easier to catch a football than a rugby ball," head coach Jim Tomsula explained after the rookie minicamp, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
In other words, it's no fluke Hayne has good hands. He worked on them in the Rugby League. Catching an oblong ball isn't foreign him.
What's foreign to him is playing a contact sport while wearing pads. That's Stage 2 of his development.
Beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers Can Iman, who does an absolutely top shelf job of uploading videos and stuff (all you local sports clubs take note - play nicely with us writers) did a report card for Hayne and while unconfirmed, let's just assume that these rankings are out of 10...
Running form: 4
Receiving form: 8
Return ability: 9
Ball security: 8
Blocking skills: 7
Playbook knowledge: 7