Sunday, 26 October 2014

Below Average SportBLOG #4 - SHARKS, Bloods and Hockey

Well been nearly two months since my last column, so i suppose i should give an update on my sporting views and what has happened since my last blog entry. 
As some of you know I've really been losing my passion for football over the last 5 years or so and this season has basically made go 'meh' to the season so far as I've really not been interested much in it, barring non-league football. However though, the only side in football that i have been following more is my local side in Droylsden football club who have slipped down to the 7th league in the footballing pyramid now, after a record breaking season last term, but not in a good sense.  Droylsden now play out of the Evo Stick Division 1 league, where they hope to bounce back to the premier division, 'The Bloods' have a 50% record in the league this season, as they have an identical record at home as they do away from home too, with 4 wins and 2 losses in their opening 12 games to their season.

Looking at the International side of things and the European championship qualifiers have been and gone, which saw England remain unbeaten in their group after a comfortable 5-0 win over San Marino at Wembley, in front of a bored looking crowd and then saw England as entertaining as thrush and then struggled to a 1-0 victory in Estonia a few days later.  
North of the border, and the Scots are going about their business well after their unlucky loss to Germany in their opener with the world champions, they picked up a 1-0 win over a difficult Georgian team at Ibrox and followed it up with a 2-2 draw against Poland in the Polish capital, with Shaun Maloney and Steve Naismith netting for Scotland in the match. In the same group, Germany shown some cracks as they lost 2-0 in Poland and then saw them drop two points in Gelsenkirchen three days later, as the Germans had led thanks to a Toni Kroos goal and then in the 94th minute of the match, John O'Shea on his 100th appearance for the Republic of Ireland, saw him equalise with a rare strike to cap off a good night for the Irishman.

In Northern Ireland, the men from Windsor Park have become the unlikely side to top the group with an unbeaten record so far with two more wins to boot, as they beat the minnows of the group in the Faroe Islands 2-0 before then continuing their good record with a another 2-0 victory, this time in Greece as they beat the 2004 European champions with goals from Kyle Lafferty and Jamie Ward helping the Irishmen to three points.To be honest the International side of things have been much better than that of domestic side for my liking, though i don`t include England in that bracket, as i have a dislike for the English football side for many reasons.

I`m turning into a Rugger Bugger!

Over the past few months I've really developed a huge interest in Rugby Union and has overtook football in enjoyment me, as I`ve really gone off football and don`t enjoy it half as much as i did.  I`ve really gotten into the Union game and have been following the adventures of the AJ Bell Stadium based Sale Sharks. A few weeks ago I made my second trip to Eccles to watch the Sharks, as they battled the crisis club London Wasps where news had come out in recent weeks that the club is moving 100 miles North to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, and will see the Wasps move into their new surrounding, come December time.

The match Itself saw a very entertaining game, that sadly saw a low turnout with the AJ Bell Stadium just under half full, whether it was due to the fact the game was being screened on BT SPORTS or just because fans aren't coming to games as they only want to see a side that is successful and the Sharks haven't had a successful season since the 05/06 season when they became the Aviva Premiership League champions, no one truly know.
However, the Sharks have made a trend this year to their games, in which they have started quickly out of the blocks and this game was to be no different at all, with top Try scorer in the league, in Left-Winger Tom Arscott picking up an early try that gave the hosts an early lead. Nathan Hughes then went over from close range to see the Wasps move two points ahead, with Andy Goode converting on the extra points for a 7-5 score to the opposition. Right before half time, a charged down kick by Sale saw the ball bounce into the in goal area and saw Christian Wade unable to deal with it, and Scottish Scrum-Half Chris Cusiter grounded the ball for a Try and saw the Sharks bite back. Danny Cipriani in the second half then kicked over a drop goal and penalty, which saw the Fly-half get over after a nightmare first half with the boot, where he successfully kicked only one out of four and saw him needing new kicking boots in the second half. Cipriani then managed to find his range again and confidence boosted, as he converted a penalty and conversion, after Tom Brady went over for a try that gave the Sharks a cushion to win 25-14. Sale then got annihilated by the current champions in Northampton Saints on their travels, getting thrashed 43-10 with their worst performance of the season.

This past weekend I spent watching the new European Champions Cup competition, which is the Champions league of Rugby Union in a sense and the opening match saw Gloucester thrash a poor Brive side 55-0 at Kingsholm, against a side that lacked anything in attack and their defense was equal to a chocolate fireguard. Charlie Sharples will never have an easier game to score tries in again, with the Winger picking up a hat trick and becoming the first player to do in the tournament on opening night. 
Harlequins beat a stubborn Castres side 25-9, with Danny Care scoring the only try for 'Quins', while Nick Evans kicked 20 points with 6 penalties and a conversion from the boot.
Finalists in the old format last year in the form of Saracens saw them face the team they massacred in the Semi finals of the old Heineken cup, in Clermont-Auvergne. Sarries had Chris Ashton and David Strettle both going over twice, as the runners-up held out over the French club 30-23, with Zak Guildford scoring a pair of tries himself for the visitors.

Leicester Tigers put their poor league form to one side, as they beat tough opposition in Ulster  as they won 25-18 at Welford Road, with Owen Williams, Graham Kitchener and Freddie Burns all going over the Ulsterman's try line in the first half with the Belfast outfit struggling to get going. In the second half, Irish international Tommy Bowe tried to kick start an Ulster comeback, before Burns added a penalty to the Tigers score and then Franco van der Merwe replied for Ulster, but it was all too late to get back in the match.
The other two big clubs in Ireland saw them both go behind in their respective games and both take incredible victories in the process.
For Leinster the three winners of the old format, saw Wasps welcomed to Dublin and saw Alapati Leiua and Christian Wade both scoring tries as the Aviva Premiership side as they led 20-8.That then saw Ian Madigan kick a penalty on the stroke of half time, to see them trail by 9 at the break. Second half saw 'the Boys in Blue' mount their own comeback with Darragh Fanning scoring a try and then Madigan kicking the points on the board, while Dominic Ryan scored the winning try with 20 minutes of play left to win 25-20.

I started with Sale and will finish with them too as the Sharks opened their 'Group of Death', with a meeting against one of the famous Irish rugby sides in Munster and saw the AJ Bell Stadium mostly full, with a near 10,000 crowd to watch the game. It saw the encounter play up to the phrase 'Game of two halves', with the Sharks completely bossing their rivals, despite Munster taking the lead on 5 minutes. The home side went into the break 23-7 up, with the best team performance I've witnessed this season involving the Sharks. As tries for Sale by Magnus Lund and Johnny Leota for the hosts, added by Danny Cipriani kicking with a 100 percentage success rate in the game, with the English star converting five from five. In the second half it was all Munster, as they hardly let Sale move into their 22 metre area at all, with the 'Red Army' grabbing a lifeline with Andrew Conway and then when Conor Murray went over it was game on. The game reached was reaching it`s climax and it saw with time up 26-24 in favour of the home side, before Ian Keatley kicked over a drop goal to condemn the Sharks to defeat and give the Travelling Irish fans a win to get their group off and running, with a 26-27 win in a enthralling game of rugby and heartbreak for Sale.

Hockey time

Hockey wise has seen the Manchester Phoenix face two sides from lower league in the hockey pyramid, with playing the Billingham Stars and then the Blackburn Hawks. All three games saw the Phoenix coming out comfortable winners in the end with a 6-2 victory at home with a brace for Adam Walker and Shaun Thompson in the game and they then followed it up the next night, travelling up north and winning 6-1 at the Billingham forum, where Michal Psurny scored twice in the game and take a 4 point weekend from it.
Blackburn Hawks came into Altrincham where they revitalised some old memories for many supporters, with the old clashes between the Trafford Metros and the Hawks in the old barn, where there was saw some of the most exciting games seen in the old Oakfield Road rink. The derby atmosphere was there for all to hear and saw the Hawks take an unlikely and shocking lead after 10 seconds in, before the sides traded goals with each other in a crazy first half of the period. Czech forward Frankie Bakrlik netted a hat trick in the opening period, before youngster Jared Dickinson scored his own hat trick for the Phoenix in the second period, where they won 11-5 in yet another comprehensive win over their local rivals.


Ending this blog, I’ll mention the great news for the Belle Vue Aces speedway side, as work has FINALLY begun on their new stadium which is called the National Speedway Stadium and where work is set to be completed hopefully in time for the 2016 season, where the stadium is adjacent to the stadium they are in now.

Thanks for reading my waffle and until next time Bye for now!


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