Melbourne Storm spear the Sharks, look unbeatable in 2018

It was set up as potentially one of the most brutal and robust games of the season.
Two teams were prepared to grind through the middle and niggle and grapple their way to an ascendancy in the ruck. Both would then look to parlay that dominance into attacking explosions out wide on the back of their ‘go to’ men.
The home side would call on an excellent record at AAMI Park, channel the grand final victory of 2017 and aim to set up a fitting farewell for club legend Billy Slater.
The visitors from Sydney’s shire would only have to cast their minds back five weeks for belief. On that day they out-stormed the Storm in Melbourne and it went a long way towards guaranteeing a top four finish.
Thus, the Cronulla Sharks travelled to Melbourne to face the best team of the modern era, in a match to determine the first of two grand finalists.
If season 2018 has taught us anything, it is that predictability doesn’t exist in the NRL.
Strangely, the Storm defied that logic and did what many thought they would against the Sharks at AAMI Park.
In the end, it was a comfortable harpooning for the Storm, as they speared the Sharks to the tune of 20 to zip in the first half and continued the cull in the second.
Cameron Munster of the Storm (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)
Cronulla had a moment or two in the first forty, yet it was a controlled and disciplined first half from the Storm that set up an unassailable lead.
A double to Billy Slater and a brilliant try to Brodie Croft established a comfortable margin at the break and Scott Morrison was reportedly spitting chips in Kirribilli. His boys from the insular peninsular had their pants well and truly pulled down by the southerners.
The best front runners in the game were never going to let such a lead slip and set about grinding the visitors into the dirt in front of their home fans. It made a considerable statement to both the Roosters and Rabbitohs, who will belt the living heck out of each other later on tonight.
Whichever Sydney team manages to scrape over the line and earn the right to face Craig Bellamy’s men had better recover well and strategically plot a course of action far more effective than the one that the Sharks took into the Preliminary Final.
An early disallowed second-half try teased the Sharks but it took them the best part of 70 minutes to eventually cross the line. They did so with 11 minutes remaining when Luke Lewis scored a fitting try to round off a superb career with the Sharks, Panthers, New South Wales and Australia.
It reduced the lead to 22-6 in favour of the Storm after Cameron Smith had added a penalty goal early in the half.
From then on, the Storm did what they do so well and Bellamy will be proud of his teams’ execution of the game plan.
It was a plan that the Sharks and many others before them, were far from matching let alone combating, and it sends the Storm into yet another grand final.
If you find the Storm’s consistency a little boring and can’t quite work out how one little club in an AFL stronghold continues to appear at the pointy end of the NRL season, look no further than Craig Bellamy, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater.
They have been doing it for quite some time and despite the best efforts of the perennial challengers, the antidote to their dominance is yet to be found.
Good luck to the Roosters and the Rabbitohs. It will be an epic clash in Sydney tonight. The winner will have high hopes but I’m not quite sure either will have the tools to combat the clinical precision of the Melbourne Storm.

West Coast vs Melbourne: Preliminary final forecast

Perth holds no fear for Melbourne, so it goes. But there’s many more reasons for the Dees to feel confident heading into this afternoon’s preliminary final against the West Coast Eagles.
Will those reasons be enough to overcome a more rested opponents on their home deck? We’ll find out in a few hours time.
If momentum exists, and the evidence is scant that it does, then Melbourne holds the world’s most plentiful supply of it. The Dees have won eight of their last ten games, with a percentage of 147 per cent (which translates to an average margin of 33 points). In that time Melbourne has beaten Geelong, Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn and West Coast.
The Dees have a decent track record in Perth in recent times too. Their last trip to Subiaco was a memorable victory, in one of the better games of the 2017 season. It was also the club’s first win out west against the Eagles since 2002, Tom McDonald’s decisive last kick of the game ending a nine game ground-opponent losing streak.
That carried to the club’s last outing in Perth, a 17-point win over the Eagles at Perth Stadium (a game I covered for The Roar).
As I said, if momentum is a thing, then Melbourne would appear to have it. But there are genuine Xs and Os reasons to be all in on this game, beyond it being the second last game of the AFL season.
And it begins at the selection table. West Coast has recalled single club journeyman Will Schofield as replacement for the injured Brad Sheppard, Schofield able to play the flex-defender spot with his strong marking and on-the-ground pace. It does make the Eagles’ defensive set look a little on the tall side, though Melbourne’s mid-sized forwards would have given them trouble anyway. That one was predictable.
Lewis Jetta of the Eagles (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Melbourne has made a more significant change, dropping half back Bayley Fritsch for the taller and stouter Joel Smith. Fritsch has played 23 games this season, and has been one of the reasons the Dees have been able to become such a powerful scoring side on turnovers.
He’s part of a relatively small defensive set, which has generally rolled with two tall defenders, three mid-sized and one small in Neville Jetta this season. Smith has played seven games this year, coming in as a third tall in two separate blocks in 2018.
The prevailing view seems to be Melbourne has picked Smith to assist the Dees account for the three tall forward set up of the Eagles: Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and a resting ruckman (mostly Nathan Vardy, and sometimes Scott Lycett). Through that lens that makes sense, but one can’t help but think Melbourne is reacting to something that shouldn’t even be an issue.
The Dees have conceded just 47 inside 50s per game – the second fewest in the competition – and they are worried about what the third (at best and probably fifth in reality) most threatening forward 50 target might do to them. And to ameliorate that they were willing to toss out a critical element of their winning formula. I don’t like it. It isn’t going to be the difference between a win and a loss, but every little bit helps – or hinders.
What makes it even more puzzling is the Dees beat West Coast a month ago on the back of its system. With a fast start in the books, Melbourne settled in to its work by beating up the Eagles around the ball and cutting off their kicking lanes in defence. But it wasn’t defence that won Melbourne the day.
The Eagles had about 50 minutes of possession, which on their season rate would suggest they’d score 89 points. They scored 91. Instead, it was Melbourne’s incisive attack, which scored 2.04 points per minute of possession against West Coast’s season long rate of 1.50 points per minute of opposition possession, which was the difference. And that is what Melbourne will need to do again.
West Coast’s defence has been sound all season, conceding 100 points just twice on the year. The first was Lance Franklin’s eight goal haul in Round One, and the second was against the Dees in Round 22.
Jeremy McGovern, Shannon Hurn and the rest of the crew have also been crucial to setting up West Coast’s outside kicking game, their decision making with ball in hand helping the Eagles navigate – or bust – opposition defensive zones.
Jeremy McGovern of the Eagles (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
Melbourne shut this down in Round 22, with disciplined formations and a commitment to moving with the play as the Eagles attempted to switch. Now, it is important to note West Coast was missing two of its most important ball movement cogs in Darling (knocked out ten minutes into the game) and Kennedy.
It meant the Eagles struggled to find a bail out option down the line, and it allowed ruckman Max Gawn to intercept and rebound at will. This time, they are both in place, and while Kennedy looked awful in the first half he came into his own in the second.
Melbourne will feel confident that it can win the inside battle once again. The Dees were +14 in clearances and +25 in adjusted contested possessions on the game. The clearance number is outsize, even for Melbourne wins (+5) and West Coast losses (-6). The adjusted contested possession number is, however, about right: in wins Melbourne has averaged +23 on this metric, and in its losses West Coast has averaged -21. The critical issue in the last game then would appear to have been ball movement.
Can Melbourne bring the commitment and pressure that allowed them to disrupt West Coast’s ball movement, and counter quickly the other way? Their last three months suggests it is certainly possible. But the Eagles will have learned from last time out, and this time have a forward line more like the one that has gone scorched earth more often than not in 2018.
Jake Melksham of the Demons is seen in action (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
It shapes as a stellar final, with an interstate bottom half of the eight finisher given more than a puncher’s chance of victory. The market has West Coast about a half a goal favourite, though we’ll see if that carries to game day when the big boys get involved in the exchange.
Personally, I think home field advantage, the extra week off, and the very clear adjustments bought by the return of Kennedy and Darling to the West Coast side are enough to suggest there won’t be a repeat of last time out. Melbourne is a great football team that has the makings of a phenomenal one, but its 2018 run will end here.
West Coast will win, by six points, and the game margin won’t extend too far beyond that for most of the day. That’s my preliminary final forecast, what’s yours?

Billy Slater can mount a serious challenge to a shoulder charge

This article has nothing to do with the probability Billy Slater will miss next Sunday’s grand final if he’s found guilty of a shoulder charge from last night’s preliminary final against the Sharks.
It would be a tragedy if the 35-year-old fullback, arguably one of rugby league’s greatest footballers, ended his stellar career suspended, forced to watch his Storm teammates in the decider from the stand.
If he’s done the crime, he must do the time – there’s no argument.
But did Slater actually shoulder charge in the true meaning of the law?
Law-makers brought in the rule to stop defenders shoulder charging front-on and not using their arms.
That’s obviously a very dangerous ‘tackle’ of two players coming from opposite directions in a very physical collision.
That could create serious injuries like whip-lash where the spinal cord could be severed, and if the shoulder contact is lower causing busted ribs, and punctured lungs.
Not on – a very wise, and long overdue, law change.
But Slater wasn’t front-on, he was side-on to Sharks winger Sosaia Feki.
Was this a shoulder charge from Billy Slater?
He came from 90 degrees, where Slater’s left shoulder first came into contact with Feki’s right shoulder.
And Slater’s right arm was clearly visible across Feki’s chest, with Slater’s right arm across Feki’s left shoulder.
So it was never front-on, and Slater’s right arm was involved in the tackle.
Those are two damn good reasons why it didn’t qualify with the letter of the law of a front-on, no arms collision – a shoulder charge.
In fact, I very much doubt law-makers ever had a side-on shoulder charge in mind. They just wanted to rightfully stamp out the extremely dangerous front-on shoulder charge with no arms involved.
That hasn’t stopped the knockers going into meltdown on social media demanding Slater’s suspension, with many adding Feki should have been awarded a penalty try.
What a load of hysterical crap.
And only because it’s superstar Billy Slater for some tall-poppy chopping.
What makes it even more farcical is Slater is the smaller man by some distance.
He’s 178 cms tall, stopping scales at 89 kgs – Feki is 188 and 101 – no wonder Slater bounced off the Tongan.
So on the evidence of countless television replays, if Billy Slater is rubbed out of the big dance it will be a travesty of justice, and not what the law-makers had in mind when they brought the shoulder charge into play.

Finch set for Ashes trial in UAE

Aaron Finch’s expected Test selection in the UAE next month may have as much to do with his suitability to play in next year’s Ashes as it does his competence against spin.
Finch was a surprise pick in Australia’s 15-man squad for the two Tests against Pakistan but now appears almost certain to play the first Test, most likely batting in the middle order.
It has been widely interpreted that Finch was picked, in part, due to his assured handling of spin bowling in Asian conditions, albeit in ODI cricket. In that format Finch has averaged nearly 40 in Asia at a strike rate of 99, and across his career has averaged 48 against spin.
Against spin in ODIs, Finch uses his feet nicely, has a powerful sweep shot and exploits the full depth of the crease to cut and pull any deliveries which are marginally short.
The selectors will hope he can bat with similar fluency against spin on Test debut in the UAE, where Australia’s batsmen were flummoxed by the home tweakers last time they toured four years ago. In that series. leg spinner Yasir Shah and left arm finger spinner Zulfiqar Babar ran amok, combining for 26 wickets at 21.
On their more recent tours of Asia, Australia have talked up their horses-for-courses selection strategy, one which seems to have helped Finch finally earn a Test squad berth.
Is Finch the answer to Australia’s spin woes? (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
After announcing the squad to tour the UAE, Australian chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns praised Finch’s “sensational form” and said he added generous experience and leadership to the group.
What he didn’t mention was Finch’s success in English county cricket in recent years, something I believe may well have been a factor in his selection. Although The Ashes is still ten months away, it undoubtedly will be on the minds of the selectors as they look to mould a team they believe can finally win a Test series in England.
With doubt over the Test future of the banned David Warner, and question marks over the stability of Australia’s middle order, the selectors may see Finch as an Ashes insurance policy.
By getting him into the Test team now, should Finch thrive in the longest format in the UAE and across six home Tests this summer, he’ll be well prepared for his first Ashes.
On the surface, Finch does not look like the type of batsman who would be suited to playing against the Dukes in England. In ODI cricket he can be leaden footed, and tends to rely on his hand-eye coordination.
But the proof is in the pudding – the Yorkshire pudding, to be specific. Across 15 matches for that county and for Surrey in Division One of the County Championship, Finch has made 823 runs at 43. He has passed 50 six times in 20 innings across those stints, a good indication of consistency.
Finch clearly has improved as a batsman in recent years yet, as far back as four years ago, he was showing impressive aptitude against the swinging Dukes ball against good county bowlers. His first county ton, in 2014, came in a low-scoring match against a Warwickshire attack featuring four bowlers who had played Test cricket – Chris Woakes, Boyd Rankin, Jeetan Patel and Rikki Clarke.
Since then, Finch has piled up 2,297 runs at 49 in first-class cricket. While he has only scored five tons in that time, he has passed fifty once per 2.8 innings, a highly-impressive ratio.
Of course, none of this guarantees Finch even a modicum of success next winter against the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, or in the UAE.
But it will have given the selectors a reason to consider Finch as a strong option for the next Ashes, which in turn may help him get picked to make his Test debut next month.

World of Warcraft’s Jeramy McIntyre explains how the esport has grown

With the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship Asia-Pacific Regional Finals about to take place this weekend, we had the opportunity to chat to Jeramy McIntyre, product manager for World of Warcraft esports.
The competition will see Aussies facing off against Korea and Taiwan teams in Sydney to compete for a share of a $50,000 USD prize and a spot in the Global Finals to be held at BlizzCon 2018. This is the first esports event under the current Battle for Azeroth version of WoW and, as such, marks how much the game has grown as an esport over the years.
The Roar: The first time I actually saw WoW being played as an esport was at an esports bar here in Melbourne (GGEZ) with a bunch of friends who play casually. We were all a bit shocked that it was being played competitively in ways other than the typical PvP.
How did WoW transition into its current esports form and what support was required to help make this happen?
McIntyre: Well, first of all, that’s awesome. I love that you’re watching World of Warcraft esports in a very mainstream kind of way. I think that’s kind of the journey that we’ve been on over the course of the last 11 years, which is how long World of Warcraft has been developing esports programs.
If you look over the history of World of Warcraft esports in that time, we’ve gone from several different formats, many of them that reflect the game. We started with doing 5v5, then we moved down to 3v3 over the course of the next couple of years.
Within the last few years, we’ve definitely been investing more. I think one of the unique things that World of Warcraft as an esport has to offer is the actual diversity of gameplay.
Arena is kind of the core of the World of Warcraft esports portfolio and we’ve noticed that that has been expanding globally quite significantly over the last couple of years.
Laterally to that evolution, we’ve also been investing in different game types, specifically the Mythic Dungeon Invitational, which started out as a small, unique format and now is a global program that’s played in every country that World of Warcraft operates.
That diversity of the game itself I think is what’s really, really important and it’s what has led us to create these differing programs.
As we continue to make that transition, we see the return on that diversity of having multiple different programs that represent World of Warcraft esports. It’s definitely something that we are very interested in – trying to find new ways to highlight the actual gameplay itself.
The Roar: Would you say changes to the game itself or the current culture have had the biggest impact in making World of Warcraft a successful esport?
McIntyre: When I think about World of Warcraft culture and the community, it is something that is so large, so massive and so magnanimous that it would be very difficult for me to assume that anything other than that awesome community the huge driving force for us to create esports content.
That need, that want to be competitive and to play World of Warcraft on that competitive global stage has been a huge motivator for us as we begin piloting certain elements of our program, like MDI, which started out as a collegiate event only in North America.
Watching the appetite of the community grow beyond the program was what really helped provide meaning and reason for us to actually expand and continue to grow things like the MDI program. That being said, although we have that huge hunger from the community itself, we still definitely need to make sure that we can make those elements of the game competitive and fair.
It requires both the hunger from the community, from that audience, and the drive to want to do it and also from Blizzard, us recognizing that and being able to create the appropriate ‘obstacle course’ for a competitive esport.
The Roar: Are there any plans for more support or future events focusing specifically on ANZ competitions given our impressive record?
McIntyre: ANZ events have actually increased year over year for the last three years. This year, ANZ saw more online tournaments with a very, very community feel, which led to more competition and better gameplay that we’re seeing across the board in the region.
Very similar things are also happening in some of the other smaller regions like Korea. We see the appetite. We see the amazing gameplay and the passion of the players. It’s definitely on our radar for further expansion.
The Roar: How accessible do you think watching competitive WoW is for people who haven’t played the game? What has been done, or, are there any plans to help with this for people who aren’t hardcore players?
McIntyre: I think that’s one of the most difficult problems that esports as an industry has. How do we distil very, very complex and oftentimes subtle information and make it palatable for an average viewer to consume?
There’s many ways that we work on this to try to improve and streamline this to help grow our audience or make the cool element of competitive World of Warcraft esports more easily understandable to the audience.
One of the most recent things we did was creating a Twitch extension which moved a lot of that deep information away from the actual general broadcast. What that does is, for that hardcore audience that does want to go in there and understand those very subtle intricacies, it is now user-initiated.
They can hover over it with their mouse and they can dive as deep as they want. On our level from a broadcast perspective, we try to keep the audience as wide as possible, but also trying to provide avenues for our dedicated hardcore fans to gain the information that they want, whether that be for education or just trying to understand how certain teams are able to pull off different strategies.
The Roar: Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
McIntyre: I think just one of the big reasons why we’re bringing the APAC Regionals to Sydney, is that we can see the level of competition that the region brings. We’re super excited for it.
We’re very, very proud that ANZ won the first Mythic Dungeon Invitational at the global level. We’re super excited to see how competitive ANZ was this time around as well. I think that as long as this community keeps on growing and is as hungry as it has been the last couple of years, you’re going to see more World of Warcraft esports coming across the water as well.

Slater is guilty but shouldn’t miss the grand final

‘Them’s the rules’ is an awful excuse.
I get why the shoulder charge needed to be banned. I didn’t like it at first but I get it. Shoulder charges can be a high risk, poorly controlled method of tackling.
Players were getting injured and as awareness of the consequences of head trauma increased it wasn’t tenable for the game to allow this tackle to continue.
Instead of carefully weighing up the best way to minimise the risk while maintaining the integrity of the game, the NRL impulsively jerked its knee and implemented a one-size-fits-all ban on the shoulder charge.
A grade one shoulder charge carries a 200-point penalty. That’s two games, pending discounts for early guilty pleas, for anything that’s deemed to be a shoulder charge.
The absurdity is that the shoulder charge was banned to prevent concussions, yet a shoulder charge that makes absolutely no contact with the head stills gets 200 points.
But wait, it gets worse.
A grade one careless high tackle carries zero points and ‘just’ a $1,500 fine as a penalty. A grade two careless is 150 points.
You’ve got to get to a grade three careless high tackle to get to 200 points which is the same as a grade one shoulder charge.
The problem with this is a high tackle is defined by the NRL as “contact with the head or neck” yet there are two gradings of ‘head high’ tackles which are deemed better – in this era of concussion awareness – than any shoulder to shoulder contact shoulder charge.
If we’re trying to minimise the risk of players sustaining head trauma and concussion injuries how is it that a tackle defined by its contact to the head has to get to a grade three before it’s treated as seriously as ANY shoulder charge, regardless of where contact is made?
Every week we see high tackles where the on-field penalty is deemed sufficient.
Billy Slater threw his body at Sosaia Feki to stop him scoring. It was a shoulder charge. No doubt about it. The arm was tucked and he led with the shoulder. It was brilliant.
In the 2011 Four Nations Tournament, Slater shattered his collarbone in five places performing a similar tackle before it was outlawed.
(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)
The bravery to do it again, albeit seven years later, is almost unfathomable. But the game was on the line. Isn’t this exactly what we want from our heroes?
Slater didn’t make contact with Feki’s head.
He didn’t put Feki at risk of concussion – which is why the shoulder charge was outlawed in the first place.
He doesn’t deserve to miss a game – let alone a grand final – let alone his last ever NRL game.
Slater has played 318 NRL games. He sits second in the all-time leading try scorers list.
He’s won a Dally M, two Churchill medals and a golden boot as the world’s best player. He’s the best fullback I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t deserve to go out like this.
But all that is irrelevant. It’s not just about Billy’s fairytale, a rookie in his first season wouldn’t deserve this.
With an ill-considered, knee-jerk response rule the NRL has put itself in a position where it either needs to rub out one of its greatest players for his final game or compromise the integrity of their judicial system.
No win.
Worse again, is that regardless of which path it takes the NRL has hijacked the grand final lead up with its own incompetence. Again, no win.
The answer was so simple, ban the shoulder charge.
All shoulder charges attract an on-field penalty and a fine but only shoulder charges that make contact with the head attract a suspension.
Make it a massive suspension. Make it four or five or six weeks. That was the behaviour we were trying to eradicate from the game – not tackles like Slater’s.
That tackle should never have been made illegal, it’s what the game is all about.
I hope the NRL, the match review committee, and the judiciary find a way to get Slater off. I hope they find the intestinal fortitude to change this ill-conceived rule.
I want to see Billy Slater play one last time and for to have the farewell he deserves, win, lose or golden point.
I don’t want to see anyone else rubbed out for displaying the selfless courage our game demands.
Now, let’s talk about the seven-tackle restart rule…

The Wallabies irk me

I used to hate the Wallabies, especially in the late 80s and early 90s.
I used to hate Phil Kearns, Tim Horan and his mate Jason Little, Willie O, George Gregan, Mathew Burke, George Smith, Stephen Larkham – and don’t get me started on John bloody Eales.
I read his biography and at the end had a sense of respect and admiration for an Australian sportsman. I won’t do that again.
Laying it out on the table, I am a Kiwi who’s been living in Melbourne for the last 30 years. So, in the early days, seeing rugby on TV was a treat.
Even if we had to listen to Gordon Bray prattling on during commentary with things like, how when one of the Wallabies was at a posh high school his grandmother, who was a lacrosse champion from Wagga Wagga used to bake lamingtons for the team at half time. Or some such twaddle.
Seeing a Test live in Melbourne was like finding the lost Ark of the Covenant.
The Rebels arrived, so there was something to go to, however don’t get me started on them – that’s another whole article.
Back to the hate, I used to hate those guys and their teammates because they were tough, talented, uncompromising and were regularly beating the All Blacks.
Every Wallabies-All Blacks Test match would make you nervous in the days leading up to it, anticipating the challenge. Before the match you would find your spot, wait for the national anthems and then the Haka. After being suitably fired up after the Haka, you’d be feel ready to take on the world and settle in to watch.
Even though it was Gordon calling (every second word seemed to be “Larkham!”) there was sense of excitement and nervousness throughout the whole game.
If the Wallabies were winning the frustration would start. The yelling at the TV would commence and the smug looks from my mates and my wife would push me further to the edge. As a Wallabies win got closer, I would regress into shell wishing a meteorite would wipe out Gregan and his jabbering, or an errant seagull would hit one of Burkes or Eales kicks (especially that kick).
After the win I would sook for about a week.
If the AB’s were winning I would still be tense and frustrated. I would only feel comfortable of getting a win over the Wallabies if it was;
• 5 minutes to go
• All Blacks were 15 points up
• We had a foot on the Wallabies throat
• Had shot them three times with silver bullets
• Driven a stake through their heart so they were pinned to the ground – you never know when those bastards will get up.
George Gregan of the Wallabies – in better days for Australia. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
All those guys above and their teammates fell into that category. You could always rely on them to play a tough talented game. The hatred was based upon respect for them as fearsome opponents who would always give their lot.
It was; “Oh no, not these blokes again”.
This current lot fall well short. I can’t even begin to mildly dislike them. It’s all a bit “meh”.
They have a smug, “Oh well, bugger, we lost again” attitude, which annoys me.
I don’t know who half the players are, except for the usual big names.
I’m not sure what the backline is or how it works or which player is in which position.
It’s like they line up and Michael Cheika asks “who wants to play centre this week?” Hands go up and it’s “Okay we will try you; played there before? No? That’s okay, I think its jumper number 13, try it on.”
There seems no structure or continuity in their setup – it’s like a different team shows up each game.
I don’t mind Cheika’s histrionics or his passion but it seems to stay in the box and never gets transferred to the field.
The Wallabies do have some talented players and some who give it their all. I don’t mind Michael Hooper, but he is like an energiser bunny with batteries the wrong voltage. He is all over the place and not doing what he should.
Kurtley Beale is hot and cold. Israel Folau needs some help, he’s talented but has low rugby nous.
Bernard Foley is much maligned and I don’t think is that bad, but can’t seem to take that next step up.
I want the Wallabies to succeed; I want the hate to come back. I want them to start playing like their predecessors.
However, I can’t see it with this current setup. Bring is some new blood, guys like Jacks Maddocks and Tom English – at least get a team not the bunch of lost souls in the current arrangements.
If I see some heart and effort and results, I might even start cheering them on, until then – “meh”.

Oh India, what could have been?

Let’s look at an Indian team who leave England with what ended up being a bit of a ‘what could have been?’ series for the visitors.
KL Rahul
A stylish and gifted opener, but just could not get going all summer. Became part of a brittle top order that, besides the third Test, gave very little protection to their middle order. Made almost half of his runs in the last innings where India was always going to lose and the series was over.
His 149 runs out of 299 series runs came in that innings. Should be reaching his peak over the next 3 to 4 years and will need a big summer in Australia for Kohli to keep them faith in him. Rating – 4.
Murali Vijay
It’s hard to believe a batsman with the talent of Vijay could average under 40 in Test cricket. Was all at sea for the two Tests he played and was rightly dropped and sent home, possibly never to be seen again. Rating – 1.
Shikhar Dhawan
Like Rahul and Vijay his Test average has taken a bit of a battering on the two overseas tours to South Africa and England. Only showed some quality in the third Test where he was disciplined in making a start. Besides that offered very little. Rating – 3.
Cheteshwar Pujara
With the top order failing needed to give his team stability with Kohli. Did so with a good 72 at Nottingham before a brilliant century at Southhampton, but wasn’t enough overall. Questionable overseas performances in the past and although not as bad as the three players above, didn’t deliver quite enough for his team. Rating – 6.
Virat Kohli
In the first Test of the summer, played one of the all time great Test performances in a losing team, where he almost single-handedly (Sharma and Ashwin helped with the ball) carried his team to a win.
Kohli was a lone bright spot for the Indians. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Was head and shoulders above the next best batsmen over the summer in terms of run scoring and class. Put to bed the problems he had four years prior in England making 593 runs at close to 60. Seemed to be a bit jaded by the end of the tour which could have been from just needing to do too much in this team of struggling batsmen. Use of DRS needs to improve. Rating – 9.
Ajinkya Rahane
Really struggled early in the series, getting out to balls he didn’t really need to play at. Made 81 in the third Test and was almost the hero with a second innings partnership of 101 with Kohli in the second innings at Southhampton in an attempt to keep the series alive which did not eventuate. However, an average of mid 20s wasn’t enough for the team’s vice captain and experienced batsmen. Rating – 5.
Dinesh Karthik
Struggled with the gloves and struggled with the bat. Rating – 1.
Rishabh Pant
His footwork behind the stumps to the seamers needs to improve. It resulted in a couple of dropped catches that good keepers would have taken. However, he is young and nerves of a first Test series may have been an issue.
Pant clearly can bat and, although a short individual, can hit the ball a long way. His approach when chasing a total in the fourth Test was the right one despite the fact it didn’t come off, and a century in the final Test will see him remain as India’s keeper for future Test matches.
India could have one here. Must continue to work hard and develop his keeping as there is a lot of room for improvement here. Rating – 6.
Ravichandran Ashwin
Started the series quite brilliantly and bowling Cook with very similar deliveries was outstanding. But he fell away as the series went on due to injury and a lack of form. Although a great bowler in the sub continent, questions still remain on his quality outside of Asia. Rating – 4.
Ishant Sharma
India’s best bowler. Bowled a wonderful spell before tea in the first Test that had England at 7/87 and should have really carried India to a Test win. His around the wicket bowling to the left handers was a handful throughout. Rating – 8.
Mohammed Shami
16 wickets at 38 on wickets that suited his seam upright bowling just wasn’t enough.
You get the feeling that if Bhuvneshwar Kumar played in these conditions he would have taken 8-10 more wickets than this at an 8-10 better average. Rating – 5.
Jasprit Bumrah
Despite having the worst action in world cricket, he has got a very big heart and can bowl at good speed. 15 wickets at a mid 20s average was just rewards for a bowler who has done well in 2018 and will lead the attack with Sharma in Australia. Rating – 8.
Umesh Yadav
Not enough control and Kohli didn’t have the patience to wait for it to get better. Rating – 2.
Hanuma Vihari
A fifty on debut was a nice way to start a Test career, and managed to take 3-38 with what some parts of the cricketing world would call ‘fruit salad’. Rating – 6.
The 4-1 series score may have been harsh on India but, when the first and fourth Tests where there for them to take, they just didn’t grab their opportunities.
The series seemed to pass India by when they were arm’s reach from taking hold of it. A frustrating tour where an over reliance on one batsman became their greatest problem.
Some positives with the batting of Virat Kohli, the bowling of Ishant Sharma and the potential of Rishabh Pant as they look forward to a tour of Australia later in the year.

A-League preview: Melbourne City

Last season, Melbourne City finished third. They did well defensively, with Bart Schenkeveld a rock in the back, but they could have improved in consistency, with occasional poor performances.
Last season’s position
Third, 41 goals scored, 33 goals conceded.
Finals Series
Joint third, lost 2-1 to the Newcastle Jets.
Quarter-finals in 2017, out in quarter-finals in 2018.
In the offseason, Melbourne City lost several players, with goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis on loan, defenders Ruon Tongyik, Manny Muscat, Christian Cavallo and skipper Michael Jakobsen, midfielders Stefan Mauk, Oliver Bozanic, marquee Marcin Budzinski and Socceroo Daniel Arzani departing.
Furthermore, attackers Denis Genreau, Nick Fitzgerald and Bruce Kamau have also left.
They have replaced these players by signing defender Curtis Good and Ritchie De Laet on loan from Aston Villa, midfielders Antony Caceres on loan from Manchester City, Lachlan Wales from Central Coast and Rostyn Griffiths from Uzbekistan.
This includes attackers Riley McGree, Scottish Michael O’Halloran from Rangers and Florin Berenguer from France’s second division.
Melbourne City’s Bart Schenkeveld is still at the club and looks to form a solid defensive partnership with Ritchie De Laet. Malik, Good and Delbridge are solid replacements as well.
City’s attacking midfield offers sparks in the attack. Their lead up play was wonderful in their victories over A-League sides Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets in the FFA Cup. There is a lot of depth in the attacking midfield three, with Michael O’Halloran, Riley McGree, Lachlan Wales, Dario Vidosic and Florin Berenguer all quality players.
A question to be answered is the finishing touch of this rebooted Melbourne City squad. A lot rests on the shoulders of former record holder and golden boot winner Bruno Fornaroli who, at the end of last season, returned from injury.
Should he fail to fire, other players to lead the line is very limited. Michael O’Halloran and Vidosic are possibilities, but they are natural wingers. We also saw last season, how much Melbourne City depended on Ross McCormack to score the goals, scoring over half of them mid-season.
Top scorer: Ross McCormack (14)
Top assister: Luke Brattan (5)
Most minutes: Scott Jamieson (2,389)
Most passes: Luke Brattan (1,632)
Transfer window grade: Indifferent
Melbourne City started off with a massive cleanout releasing five players after day one. They have failed to hold onto a few starters including captain Jakobsen, Bouzanis, Arzani, Budzinski and Bozanic. The pickups are decent though.
Daniel Arzani is no longer at the club. (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
GKs: 1) Mark Birighetti, 18) Eugene Galekovic, 42) James Delianov
DEFs: 2) Ritchie De Laet, 3) Scott Jamieson, 4) Harrison Delbridge, 5) Bart Schenkeveld, 6) Osama Malik, 25) Iacopo La Rocca, 34) Connor Metcalfe, 36) Dylan Pierias, 43) Lucas Portelli, 48) Mitchell Graham, 52) Sebastian Kis
MIDs: 7) Rostyn Griffiths, 17) Anthony Caceres, 26) Luke Brattan, 30) Moudi Najjar, 35) Ramy Najjarine, 38) Joshua Cavallo, 39) Anthony Lesiotis
AM/WIs: 8) Riley McGree, 10) Dario Vidosic, 11) Michael O’Halloran, 13) Nathaniel Atkinson, 19) Lachlan Wales, 27) Florin Berenguer
STs: 23) Bruno Fornaroli, 37) Gianluca Iannucci
Predicted best eleven (4-2-3-1)
1) Mark Birighetti 3) Scott Jamieson, 5) Bart Schenkeveld, 6) Osama Malik, 7) Rostyn Griffiths), 8) Riley McGree, 10) Dario Vidosic, 11) Michael O’Halloran, 13) Nathaniel Atkinson, 23) Bruno Fornaroli, 26) Luke Brattan
Third. Melbourne City will mount a serious title challenge, but another lethal striker to do the business up the front would be useful. Until that happens, it is difficult to see them standing out compared to last season.

How To Turn Off Zoom (Magnifier) On Your iPhone

iOS devices has variety of accessibility features so that everyone, especially users with disabilities, can use them without any problems. One of them is the Zoom feature. This feature magnifies the screen of your iPhone no matter what you are doing so that you can see better especially if you have a poor vision. You can turn on this feature easily by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom. You can either zoom your entire screen (Full Screen Zoom) or part of your screen (Window Zoom).
I recently bough an iPhone for my father. He has a very low vision so I thought that turning this Zoom feature may really help him use this device immensely. So that he can fully use his new iPhone. So I turned it on. I chose the full screen zoom. But then I realized that the screen became too large that it was magnified too much to fit the screen. A big part of the screen was not accessible. So, immediately, I wanted to turn it off.  But it seemed to be really difficult to turn it off as toggle on/off section of the screen was not even visible and accessable since the screen was too big:

So I decided to write this short article. In this article, I explain how you can disable Zoom (magnifier). You may find this article useful. You may want to turn on Zoom and now you may want to turn off. You may have turned on Zoom accidentally and now you may want to get rid of it.  Here is how:

Ideally, you can turn off this by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom > toggle it off.  However you may unable to do so, as you may not see the on/off slider. If this is the case, then read #2.
You can zoom out easily by double tapping with three fingers. If you double tap with you three fingers, you screen will zoom out and then you will be able to see and access the on/off slider so that you can disable it.
If you are still unable to turn off Zoom, don’t worry there is a one more way to do this via iTunes. But you need a computer. Here is how:

Connect your iPhone to your computer.
Open iTunes.
Click the Device icon (when your device appears).
Click “Configure Accessibility” (under the Options section).
Select “Neither” and then click Ok. 

See also: How to cancel app purchases; How to cancel subscription
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