Firstly to some domestic football (soccer) action in Australia. Canberra United were crowned W-League champions on Sunday after defeating the highly fancied Perth Glory 3-1. It has been an up and down year for Canberra, who suffered a mid-season slump and only qualified for the top four on the final day of the regular season. Perth dominated the regular season and the minor premiers had only lost twice all year going into the grand final. But Canberra secured a famous upset to be crowned champions for the second time. For Canberra Ashleigh Sykes was the hero with two goals in quick succession late in the second half. It could have been a different story had Canberra goalkeeper Chantel Jones not saved a penalty with the score at 2-1. Many of those in action will be eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Matilda’s team, due out today, for next year’s World Cup.
Wellington Phoenix were expected to struggle in the A League this season, and some were even tipping them for the wooden spoon. Their home form so far this year has been excellent but on the road they have struggled to secure results. That changed on Sunday and it could well be the day that the Phoenix announced themselves as true contenders in 2014/15. And it was a familiar face who stole the show, with Nathan Burns scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Sydney FC. The win lifts the Phoenix above Sydney and into fourth on the table. Sydney had the better of the first half but were over-run and out played in the second as the Phoenix secured a deserving win. Sydney have now won only one of their last seven matches and Graham Arnold needs to find the spark to switch the Sky Blues back on.
That was the only upset of the round in the A-League. Elsewhere Melbourne City were victorious in their derby with Melbourne Victory 1-0 and the ninth placed Newcastle jets defeated third placed Adelaide 2-1. In the weekends other fixture the table topping Perth Glory thumped the Central Coast Mariners 4-1. Western Sydney Wanderers may be the reigning Asian Champions League winners but domestically their season has been a disaster. They were not in action on the weekend as they returned from the Club World Cup in Morocco (won by Real Madrid) and now find themselves languishing at the bottom of the table and four points behind the Jets. They may have two games inhand but a miserly three points from nine games is simply not good enough. Next up is a trip over the Tasman to take on the high-flying Phoenix.
Jacques Kallis and Michael Hussey may be one of the oldest opening partnerships going around in professional cricket but age was no barrier in the Big Bash on Sunday. Hussey and Kallis were dominant for the outset. Between the opening duo they struck 26 fours or sixes, though both will have been disappointed to fall short of their hundred. Hussey fell for 96, while Kallis was left on 97 not out as he was unable to get the three he needed for his century off the last ball of the innings. The 160 run stand was the second highest partnership in the history on the Big Bash and set up a commanding total of 208 for the Sydney Thunder. The Brisbane Heat lost wickets early and though they managed to stabilise collapsed to lose their last five wickets for only five runs as they were all out for 152 in response. On Saturday the Melbourne Stars poor start continued as they were beaten at home by the Hobart Hurricanes. Darren Sammy may not have top scored but he was the difference as he blasted 28 from just 12 deliveries at the end of the innings as the Hurricanes scored 47 off their final two overs. Set 190 to win the Stars made just 138, of which captain Cameron White contributed 62.
And finally, there was disappointing news for Australian cycling fans this morning with the announcement that the reigning national road race champion and Tour Down Under winner, Simon Gerrans, had crashed and broken his collarbone in a training ride yesterday. While his recovery is expected to be swift he will still miss both races in January. The crash happened while Gerrans was out cross training on a mountain bike. While a massive blow to Orica Greenedge before the season has even started the pressure will now be on Gerrans’s teammates to step up. In the lead up to both races I’ll have a closer look at the course and favourites.