One of the more painful life lessons I have picked up from sport is that you can be very good, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. It’s a truth that’s up there with the one about how you just can’t make some girls love you. They just won’t. But trying to make them is still fun. But back to the sport. For all of the nineties and for some years before that and after as well, it was expected that Australia would trample all over my country in the cricket. Sometimes it was embarrassing. Other times though , it would be the hope that killed. A first test victory in ’97. A Boxing Day test win at the MCG in ’99. Could the Ashes be returning, finally?
These heady whiffs of success never lasted though. Like all great teams, Australia would find another gear and move the game out of England’s control. England would take a couple of wickets, and Australia would bat the whole of the day, and a fair portion of the next too. Or England’s openers would put on a decent partnership, only to see the middle order collapse for fifty between them.
It felt a little like this on Saturday during the Grand Final. Literally the game was even after 55-60 minutes. 8 – 8. But you can’t keep getting trampled over in the middle of the park and not have that take a toll. Whiti momentum took more men to stop. Passes didn’t snap from hand to hand. Kicks weren’t as accurate as they could be. The two late tries felt inevitable, which takes nothing away from the skill needed to pull them off after 70 minutes of battle.
So well done Whiti. It was emotional to observe. I can’t imagine what it felt like. And well played Wainiuomata, who were very good for long parts of the game.