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Upper Hutt Leader : August 1st 2012
38 UPPER HUTT LEADER, AUGUST 1, 2012 SPORT Brilliant opening ceremony marred SPORTS TALK JOSEPH ROMANOS Two jarring moments detrac- ted from an otherwise out- standing London Olympics opening ceremony. Former Beatle Paul McCartney, hair dyed, face lifted, really struggled to belt out one of his signature songs, Hey Jude,atthe end of the show. It was the sort of stage that in years past McCartney would have relished, with 80,000 spectators inside the Olympic Stadium in a party mood. But McCartney looked like what he was: A 70-year-old rocker desperately trying to cling to his youth. He was a long way removed from his Fab Four days. Unfortunately, McCartney wasn't the saddest sight of the evening. That was Muhammad Ali, the 70-year-old former world heavy- weight boxing champion. I'm not quite sure why Ali was even brought to London. He's an American. It's not as if the English don't have enough sports stars of their own. Steve Ovett or Sally Gun- nell, both world champion ath- letes, would have been more relevant. Ali lit the Olympic flame in Atlanta in 1996. He was 54 and just managed to steady his Parkinsons-ravaged body enough to perform the task. He was lauded at the time and given the respect he had earned because of his boxing feats and what he had said and done out of the ring. Sixteen years later it was dis- tressing to see him so lifeless and helpless. He stood shaking, wear- ing dark glasses, hair dyed jet black, propped up by his attentive wife Lonnie. There was no sugges- tion he might be able to wave, let alone speak. Those close to Ali say he totally aware of his surroundings, but is simply unable to convey that physically. I hope that's the case, but it didn't look like it. Ali is my all-time sports hero. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in the era of Jack Nick- laus, Rod Laver, Pele and Peter Snell. But Ali is my personal No 1, as he is for many sports fans of my generation. I loved the way he boxed, and I enjoyed the colour he brought to the world of sport. But that was a different Ali. The ailing man who was on show in London was a reminder of how cruel his sport can be. When he bounced into England in the 1960s to take on "Our Enry" (Henry Cooper) twice, and another Englishman, Brian Lon- don, Ali was about the liveliest sports star on the planet. He was charismatic, always ready with a quip and immensely likeable. When he fought Cooper in 1966 he stepped into the ring wearing a huge crown. The English didn't know what to make of the brash and brazen American, but they sure wanted to watch him. It wasn't a shock to see him in his current state, because he's been suffering from Parkinsons since the early 1980s and has been really debilitated for the past 15 years. Even so, it was immensely poignant. Perhaps the 15,000 athletes competing at the London Olympics could take one lesson from watching Ali. They should train hard and strive to win, of course. But per- haps even more importantly, they should enjoy their youth, their time in the sun. You never know what's around the corner. Locals back in the winning way in the Jubilee Cup ' Woodward's spot-on display . . .tookhimto120pointsfor the season. ' By COLIN WILLIAMS A 32-point haul to Jason Wood- ward and an improved forward effort were the hallmarks of an enjoyable, but well overdue, Upper Hutt win in Jubilee Cup play on Saturday. Woodward who, along with half- back Kayne Hammington, was named in the Wellington Lions squad mid-week, scored two tries and nailed five conversions and four penalties as his side monstered Petone 47-27. Woodward's spot-on display, which came after a lean period, took him to 120 points for the sea- son as the normal'' club season finished. There are two more games to come though, as a dubious play- off for 5th to 8th places starts with Upper Hutt (7th) away to Tawa (6th) on Saturday. The Petone game was all action but started bleakly, with a poten- tially serious injury to a Petone player from the kickoff. Precautionary care led to a long delay, then the game was moved to Maidstone Park's second field. Petone looked like they were fired up from the delay to play and scored first but Upper Hutt were in better tune, with the forwards welcoming back James Wall at lock. Wall had been the first of what was to be several serious injuries to Upper Hutt second- rowers, which forced the side to battle increasingly stacked odds in the tough second round. His play, and his presence, brought much to his side and they were again a physical and fast- paced unit. A solo stepping try to Jared Churchward and three Woodward penalties, all from pressure and field position, saw Upper Hutt lead 16-10 at halftime. Upper Hutt then stepped it up big time, rattling on three quality tries with five-eighths Ben Aoina and Jason Henry orchestrating the happenings. Henry's bust and burst for a Woodward finish was especially classy. Captain Campbell Beckett grabbed a deserved try as Upper Hutt ran away with the game. Only a lapse in the last 10 minutes, which allowed an always constructive Petone a couple of soft tries, blemished a much improved and well received per- formance. One win does not a good Jubilee Cup make, how- ever, but the impact of Wall and the ener- gised play of those around him, including Vaa Fiso as his locking partner, shows what might have been. In the Hardham Cup a 56-11 loss to Poneke consigned Rimu- taka to their own bottom four playoff which, going on form, will see the side at home and having to beat Johnsonville on Saturday week to keep their premier status. Rimutaka have been done no favours by the Wellington RFU but they have to get on with it and will be buoyed by the 90-point caning Old Boys-Uni handed out to Johnsonville. Both Poneke and OB-U look set to play the Hardham final and maybe it's moot to quantify 50 and 90-point losses but Rimutaka do seem in the better space and should be OK. First though they have to beat the Norths seconds, a side who are better than their results and who gave Rimutaka a run in their second-to-last game. College clash: Hutt International Boys' School rugby captain and front-rower James O'Reilly takes up the ball against St Pat's Silverstream with James Logan in support and Silverstream No 8 Dylan Hayes moving in on the tackle. On your marks: St Pat's Silverstream halfback Luke Coulston clears good ball with flanker Josh Svenson the closest at hand. Photos: PETER MCDONALD Silverstream side on a roll St Pat's Silverstream confirmed their readiness to make a push for the Wellington College Premier title when, on their home ground, they dished out a 39-3 quarterfinal defeat of the neigh- bouring Hutt International Boys' School. Silverstream were too strong all round, running in seven tries in a game in which they, as second- highest finishers after round- robin play, took on the seventh- placed HIBS. Silverstream earned second place with a close but deserved win over St Pat's Town and looked destined for a place in the final against the vaunted Wellington College. The blue and whites' big win came three days after they trav- elled to Palmerston North Boys' High and, with a last-minute penalty, ended a 10-year losing streak against their traditional rivals. Replacement first-five eighth Josh Robertson-Weepu nailed the penalty from front of the posts in a game where Aidan Woodward scored his side's only try.
July 25th 2012
August 8th 2012