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The Sporting Scoop: Cricket, Rugby And Football

Cricket: NZ Put Foot On Throat of England

by Ian Little, an unabashed one-eyed supporter of British sports,who writes after a long day at the spiritual home of cricket.

Sun shining, Saturday at Lords, should have been a glorious day, instead New Zealand showed real character in defiance of Wisden’s verdict to take total control of the second test.

The third day belonged to Daniel Vettori as the player little seen in England, showed determination with the bat and then put in a good bowling spell on a wicket that offered him little assistance.

New Zealand started the day on 242 for six and they made hay while the sun shone and a lacklustre bowling attack gave them the opportunity.

After a shaky start, Vettori grew in confidence and formed two vital partnerships with first Adam Parore (35) and then Chris Cairns (70) to give New Zealand a commanding lead. There was general relief around the ground when Cairns wicket fell just before lunch.

However a crucial event happened during Parore’s innings, when Parore chopped a ball to the slips and broke Nassar Hussain’s finger. The talk around the ground was that he was in hospital and later my radio told me he looked unlikely to bat unless forced to by circumstances..

England started with a deficit of 172 runs and this and Hussain’s injury made the top order decide to act like lemmings.

Mark Butcher and Alec Stewart started steady and put on 55. However the NZ side did not look rattled as they allowed Vettori to play cat and mouse off-spin games with the pair, tempting them into shots. The runs came, but then so did the wickets. First Butcher had a rush of blood to the head and an attempt to smash Vettori was skied high in the air to a running slip catch. Then Stewart swung and missed at a delivery from the same bowler and turned to see off-stump gone.

Acting skipper Graham Thorpe also felt it was better to run the side from the pavilion and went in the next over to Cairns slower ball. Mark Ramprakash also edged himself out.

It could have been worse for England with one dropped catch and a very confident appeal turned down.

The day thankfully came to a close at 107 for four and Hussain’s emergency seems likely to happen sometime on Sunday afternoon.

Nice day, shame about England though.

Rugby: Awesome First Half Performance

The All Black’s first half performance at Eden Park against Australia in Auckland was one of their best in years, so speaketh The Scoop team attention firmly rooted on their TV screens.

The end result of 34-15 and Australia’s two tries to one was flattering to them. However the Wallabies deserved credit for not giving up and battling it out with NZ in the second half.

New Zealand’s dominant forward pack saw their efforts result in penalty after penalty as the Blacks battered the Aussie line and those penalties were all due converted by Andrew Mehrtens, who landed all 10 shots including a world record-equalling nine penalty goals.

It was more than 10 minutes into the game before Australia got the ball and the pattern continued, the pressure also resulted in New Zealand's sole try as Joe Roff dropped an attempt to clear his line and Justin Marshall snaffled the ball and the try.

The All Blacks had a deserved 22-3 lead at the break, but the second half was more even with the Aussies getting more ball. However s superb smothering defence pattern did not break down until Marshall did his opposite number a favour and fumbled the ball from a five metre scrum for Gregan to score a mirror image try. Earlier Christian Cullen had pulled off a try saving tackle in the shadow of his posts

But the best try came when Daniel Herbert showed his class and cut he way through the defence to score.

While their may have been a few jitters in the Blacks ranks, but when Matt Burke was penalised 5m out from his own line for throwing ball away after he'd taken it into touch, Mehrtens took his ninth penalty of the night and effectively closed the door on a strong looking Australian side.

Football - All Whites Wilt

The All Whites, dressed in black, went down 2-1 to a superior United States side in their first Confederations Cup clash in Mexico.

In front of a vocal crowd clearly hoping for an upset by NZ - how many times would a NZ football side perform with such support - the All Whites in black looked sluggish in the heat.

But the crowd quietened as the USA's Brian McBride scored first in the 26th minute and despite a few sporadic efforts from NZ, the Americans never looked worried. The Americans scored again early in the second half to put New Zealand out of the game and the crowd out of the stadium.

The All Whites Captain Chris Zorisich scored a consolation goal for the All Whites in the very last play of the match with a scorching free-kick from outside the box.

New Zealand will face an uphill battle as it takes on even stronger opposition in the coming days, culminating in a match against Brazil.

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