Prominent and Dominant
Super Smash Notebook, Kiwis in the A-Leagues & Joseph Parker Reaction
TNC Variety Show - Episode 45
The Niche Cast - The Crossroads Inn
Justin Tafa KO…
Super Smash notebook…
Super Smash games are flowing and I’ll do a big debrief on this cluster of games tomorrow - after Auckland vs Northern today. There are a couple of the regular ‘pay attention to this chap/chick’ notes but I’ll have to let a few more games pass before really diving into form and noteworthy players. There are some bigger stories at work in the Super Smash that lead everything else kinda falls into line with…
I wrote this about Otago Sparks and Central Hinds last week, then they played each other with another win for Otago and loss for Central. These two teams were together at the bottom of the ladder last season and now Otago are 4-0 (Wellington are 3-0) while Central are 0-4. I’ve already covered Otago’s form a few times this summer, while Central have three White Ferns seamers and haven’t bowled a team out in their four games.
Spark Sports commentators tell us every game how good Central’s bowling attack is due to having Hannah Rowe, Rosemary Mair and Claudia Green in their line up. Rowe and Mair are the young seamers who should be settling into their international careers, while Green was promoted after a strong warm up game showing vs England. All three have been identified as players to fast-track into WF and with a World Cup looming they aren’t close to the best bowlers in the Super Smash.
Rowe has 2w @ 57avg/7.60rpo in four games. Including four HBJ Shield (one-day) games, Rowe has taken 4w in eight games. Mair has 2w @ 25avg in three games thus far, with 4w in her last 10 games of cricket. Green has 3w @ 23avg in four games with 5w in her last 10 games. This is why Central are 0-4 and while I’m not confident that WF World Cup squad will be selected on form, it’s certainly notable that WF bowlers are struggling in domestic cricket while other domestic bowlers are snaring wickets.
Take Auckland’s Molly Penfold for example. Penfold played vs Northern on Friday and will play again today, having been promoted to the WF squad after 15 games of domestic cricket. When that happens, the ‘talent alert’ fires up as such a swift promotion obviously signals talent. First, Penfold averages 40+ with the ball in domestic one-day and T20 cricket. Then we have Penfold taking 5w in her last 10 games.
The bigger idea here is the lack of a WF selection boost and I’m tracking how these players perform to see how they develop from being identified as key WF youngins. Meanwhile four of the top-five wicket-takers are spin bowlers with the only seamer there being Kate Ebrahim who is ranked 3rd for bowlers and 7th for batters. I believe players like Ebrahim will be far more useful to World Cup success than youngsters that are selected on potential but don’t actually tap into that potential.
Amelia Kerr’s first three Super Smash games…
5w @ 7.60avg/3.45rpo | 183 runs @ 61avg/126.20sr.
Wellington have Leigh Kasperek ranked 1st for bowlers and 4th for batters. Kerr and Kasperek are both top-five for runs and wickets.
Central lead the men’s Super Smash with Canterbury close behind and the Auckland vs Northern games feature immense Blackcaps firepower returning to domestic cricket. One Blackcap has been here all summer and in typically flash form for Canterbury…
Matt Henry took 3w @ 12rpo vs Wellington yesterday, taking him to 7w @ 13avg in the Super Smash. In the Plunket Shield Henry has 21w @ 17.76avg and his 2w in two Ford Trophy games looks mediocre in comparison. Consider Henry the best seamer in Aotearoa domestic cricket prior to Christmas - or today at least.
I’m also pondering the young sluggers. This is led by Finn Allen (Wellington - 22yrs) who is cruising along with 192sr in three games, while Josh Clarkson (CD - 24yrs) is always among the best hitters. Clarkson’s 215sr is in tune with his career strike-rate of 147 and now we are seeing a lot more of Otago’s Llew Johnson (21yrs) who has 175sr.
CD’s Bayley Wiggins (23yrs) is another to keep an eye on with 135sr so far - he hasn’t done much yet though. Johnson’s the bloke to really zone in on as he had 118 runs @ 131sr in six games last summer and has backed it up with 63 runs @ 175sr through three games. Most importantly, Johnson has a vibe that passes the eye-test as he smacks boundaries to different pockets to most batters. Quick hands, nifty wrists and confidence that all young athletes seem to have makes Llew Johnson the most low key funky chap in the Super Smash.
Two defeats in a row for the SheNix, three defeats in a row for the HeNix. The fellas do at least have an FFA Cup run weaving into that poor league form – is this what it’s like to support Everton or West Ham most years? - but the level of their play in a couple of those defeats has been a real worry. At least defeats come with the territory for the ladies who only have a couple players with prior pro experience. They’re expecting to have to ignore a few results and just focus on their own improvements... which to be fair there were a few in the loss to Sydney FC. But then also the men right now are without their top scorer and are missing a focal point playmaker and haven’t quite had the steps up hoped for from one or two others... these are tough times for the Welly Nix. Two kinda depressing double-headers in a row.
So let’s cast a glance a little wider at the kiwis at Aussie clubs and see what’s going on there for a bit...
Paige Satchell (Sydney FC) – Last seen getting twenty-odd minutes at the end against the Welly Nix though she didn’t get a whole lot of touches in all that. That was her second appearance off the bench. Satchell missed the first week as she came back from Footy Ferns duty but is beginning to stake her claim now as an impact sub – teammate Cortnee Vine referred to her as an absolute gun in her post-game chat last night. Hopefully the first start isn’t far away.
Malia Steinmetz (Western Sydney) – Like Satchell, Steinmetz missed game one as she returned from Ferns duty. She then played off the bench getting 18 minutes against SYD on week two before starting and logging 72 mins in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Friday. She was going good too, winning that ball several times in the midfield, but did have one bout of cramp and then had to go off soon after getting her foot stomped on. Stayed down for a fair while but eventually shook it off to play on for about a minute until she was replaced in a change that looked like it was probably already being readied beforehand. She jogged off so should be alright.
Claudia Bunge (Melbourne Victory) – Two teams have won three outta three. Sydney FC is one, Melbourne Victory is the other. They got things underway with a 5-1 win over Adelaide in which Claudia Bunge’s very useful goal scoring record continued (she scored twice last season, took just 23 mins to get underway this time). Victory were 4-0 up at half-time and cruising there. Only bummers were the blown clean sheet, which doesn’t really matter, and the ACL injury for Bunge’s CB partner Kayla Morrison in the first half, which really does matter.
Morrison and Bunge were brilliant together a year ago, Morrison’s relative experience surely helping heaps for Bunge settling into her first campaign as a pro. Amy Jackson slid into CB for the Melbourne Derby next game and scored an own goal and got a red card so hardly ideal... but MVC still won 2-1. That meant 19yo Courtney Nevin partnered Bunge for the 3-2 shootout win over Brisbane (Nevin is already a senior Aussie international, a massively talented prospect, however she’s usually a fullback). Three partners in three games. But three wins from three games as well. Gonna be a big season for Bunge now with Morrison out.
Liz Anton (Perth Glory) – Quite incredibly, Perth didn’t win a single game last season yet they’ve already bagged consecutive three-pointers to start this campaign. Beat Brisbane Roar 2-1 at home then beat them again 1-0 away. Liz Anton playing every minute of those two matches same as she did for all of last season on the way to winning the club’s Most Glorious Player award. Didn’t play this week though as their game versus Canberra was postponed due to Western Australia’s border regulations.
Marisa van der Meer (Melbourne City) – First pro deal, still waiting for a debut. MVDM hasn’t been in the squad for any of Melbourne City’s three games so far. That time will come soon enough. There are 20 kiwis in the ALW this season, 13 at the Nix and 7 elsewhere. Van der Meer and Charlotte Lancaster are the only ones who haven’t played yet.
Rebekah Stott (Melbourne City) – Beautiful yarns as Stotty has returned to professional footy after going into cancer remission back in July. City have had two wins and a loss (2-1 to Victory in the Melbourne Derby) so far looking much more like the title contenders they usually are. Stott has started all three of them. Yet to play ninety as they build her minutes back up but there’s been progression there with each subsequent game: 60 mins then 65 mins then 75 mins. What’s also funky is that she’s playing in a defensive midfield role rather than at centre-back. Stott’s CB efforts often involve carrying the ball forward into midfield so it’s not much of a stretch. If she stays fit and clear of suspension then she should reach 100 ALW games this season – no other kiwi has even played 40.
Hannah Wilkinson (Melbourne City) – Last on the list is Wilkie and she’s last for formatting reasons because it means we can slide in a couple of bangers. Wilkinson has been busy in all three matches. Heavily involved and looking confident and determined. Heaps of work on and off the ball. Only drama was how she didn’t score in the first couple. Stotty slid her in at one point versus Canberra but she was closed down by the keeper. There was a left-footed volley about a minute later punched over the bar by the goalie again. Then another strike angling in from the right edge which was, once more, tipped away by a diving GK. Early on against the Victory she got in behind and tried to lift a shot over the keeper but missed the target. Then a header on target was saved later on. All these chances, so many close calls, no cigars whatsoever. Until the 3-1 win over Adelaide where she bathed in a pair of them. Wilkie’s played ninety in each of the three games. She’s been prominent and dominant.
Kosta Barbarouses (Sydney FC) – Kosta’s A-League exploits are legendary for a New Zealander. All them titles, all them goals. But this season has been a complete bastard for him so far. Worked hard all preseason then got injured and missed the first few games. Then right as he was ready to return, he fractured a fibula and now is out for up to six weeks. Stink.
Dane Ingham (Newcastle Jets) – Dane Ingham is 22 years old and is already onto his third A-League club... though this one’s going pretty well for him so far. Started the first three games for the Jets at right back, then only played as a sub against the Nix however an injury to Dylan Murnane in the first half of their game against Macarthur on the weekend meant he got about 75 mins of that one after he was brought on. Has played 80% of Newcastle’s total minutes to date.
Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners) – Similar areas for Storm Roux who is back at the Mariners and began the season as first choice right back... however a couple defeats saw him dropped for the fourth game and they’ve won both matches since. Roux has featured in every match although he hasn’t played more than 64 mins in any of them (subbed off around the hour mark in all three starts).
Aidan Munford (Brisbane Roar) – The 22yo kiwi keeper has been working up the ranks in Oz, winning NPL Queensland Goalkeeper of the Year while at Gold Coast United playing with Shane Smeltz. This after stints in the Sydney FC and Central Coast academies. Right before the season the Roar picked him up as their third keeper... hasn’t come close to playing as of yet but good progress regardless.
Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory) – It was great and then it was not. Only played 13 mins in the first game – remember he’s coming back from a season-ending injury last term – but then in his next three starts he was the Marco Rojas we know and love, dribbling past dudes and flexing his creativity on the way to three assists. But in the Melbourne Derby he had to be subbed off injured in the first half. Copped a heavy challenge and couldn’t continue. Looked pretty gutted too. Still awaiting news on the extent of the injury. Fingers crossed it won’t keep him out.
Smokin’ Joe Parker
Might be another day or two before I can write about the Parker fight as she’s been a busy time lately. Holiday season and all that. But I’ll watch it back and spin some yarns sooner rather than later. Here are a few quick ideas to get you through ‘til then…
First off, what a joy to see this version of Parker. We were wondering what Andy Lee would do for him, well based on this the answer is: empower him. Parker fought a surprising 4kgs heavier than the first bout at 113.9 kg, his heaviest ever weigh-in. He was heavier here than Derek Chisora was for the last fight. That extra weight did probably tire him out earlier but it also game him more power. Not enough that he could knock out one of the iron chins of heavyweight boxing but he did drop the bugger three times and definitely came out active and engaged seeking to throw hands and get ahead early. Which he dutifully did.
The upper cut was doing all sorts of damage. Parker wasn’t only throwing a lot, he was throwing his punches in enticing combos. Only a couple times did he really cut loose with those rapid quick hands (I still reckon his hand speed is his most elite characteristic) but he continually tagged Chisora throughout. Setting up his punches and then executing with great accuracy. This kind of fight plan was what was missing as his Kevin Barry tenure grew stale.
The judges cards were a disaster. Astounding how they could rule this fight so close. One of them had it scored 114-112 which when you consider that Chisora lost three points for knockdowns means that they actually had Chisora winning more rounds than Parker did. Chisora probably did pull back a couple. He had an incredible revival in the middle rounds to steady things after it appeared he was on the brink of a hiding and could have chipped away a couple late ones. But I had it on first viewing at around nine rounds to three which would be 117-108. The other two judges had it 115-110 and 115-111. After Chisora had a big moan about the judges last time, the scoring certainly swung more in his favour this time. Still, the right dude won.
However yet again Parker was unable to earn a stoppage against a genuine challenger. More to do with Chisora’s outrageous durability than anything, as well as some pragmatism from Parker who knew that he had the win wrapped up so long as he didn’t do anything stupid. Andy Lee told him exactly that going into the last round and Parker hilariously went off script and started slugging away. But the point remains that he doesn’t knock fellow contenders out. At least not yet anyway. Not that it’s such a big deal as long as he keeps winning. Especially in enjoyable scraps like that one.
Punch stats don’t always tell the full story. There are punches that land and then there are punches that LAND. But have a geeze anyway…