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There was twists and turns to finish off Week 6 of 15 of the 2024 ANZ Premiership Netball season on a Monday night in Auckland where the Northern Mystics well clear past Bay of Plenty Magic with the win 54-44.

First two quarters saw the Mystics score as many as 16-18 while the Magic struggled to stop their opponents or the formidable attacking three in its tracks going into the break 34-16 – that’s a huge difference of 18 points between the two teams. Yes, the Magic began to rebound with back-to-back 2nd quarter leads alone thanks to a series of changes off the bench even but still fell short where their key player Ameliaranne Ekanasio unexpectedly had to sit out due to illness forced the Mystics hand who didn’t waste any time closing the game down towards the final whistle.

Hats off to Peta Toeava with her outstanding performance tonight at wing attack of 23 goal assists & 50 feeds for the Mystics who provides a great supply for her two attackers to get the job inside the circle. She might not be tall but has a an excellent read that benefited her front three alongside an exceptional level of fitness and physicality after causing the Magic so much trouble on the court. Next up is another Mystics player Tayla Earle where she too worked well together with Toeava in the middle that ensured the Mystics destructive shooting structure at the end of the day with a big win. She not only kept a great eye on the Magic defensively but also showed her versatility further up the court in attack thanks to her wonderful skillsets & communication. Gotta say that the Northern Mystics was too good with a top quality first half start even though they were aware that the Magic can crawl back later on but that didn’t bother them a lot thanks to a 10-point win. They will now be heading off to Dunedin this Sunday v Southern Steel who is sitting last right now which shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

And Saviour Tui has done so much to put the Magic on the map as the leading goal shooter after she scored the most goals tonight at 31 out of 36 attempts with a highest overall percentage of 86%. She’s so tall with a brilliant attitude who will always get the job done from close range & also as with lots more to come after she swapped for the South to Waikato in 2024. But then as said, she had to take up the heavy lifting when the Magic’s poor first half defense & a lack of link-up play including no Ameliaranne Ekenasio due to illness saw them collapse left, right and centre. Magic may be staying 4th for now on the ladder but still have a long way to go & get Top 3 that would guarantee them Finals with the Central Pulse next up on Saturday.

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So there we have it, the National Basketball League is staying on with Network 10 as their free-to-air partner for at least another 3 years going into the 2024-25 season. Up until now, they aired back-to-back Sunday afternoon games including some Finals and the Christmas Day match on 10 Peach and 10 Play. Now it will be just the weekly Sunday afternoon game (the main 2.30pm one) on the main channel like it was several times in the past including some Finals with ESPN still being the primary broadcaster for most of the games behind a paywall as well as some occasional free-to-view content via Kayo Sports.

Couldn’t see it coming when it was an easy decision for 10 to keep the NBL even it means being the secondary broadcaster to ESPN like they’ve done two years ago with Fox Sports to keep airing the annual Australian Formula 1 and Motorcycle Grand Prix races which is still ongoing despite losing the majority rights a decade ago. Also the interest isn’t bad too with some great success over the last few years including last season as the league will hope to see some more exposure going forward at the right place at the right time after spending the last couple of seasons on a multi-channel.

With NBL being locked up including the Australian Grand Prix events, where is 10 going from here with their sports content?

Well, they’ve lost the Melbourne Cup Carnival to Nine lately as well as Bellator MMA after the network’s parent owners have sold the competition to Professional Fighters League at the end of last year which means Bellator is now seen via Nine’s paid streaming service Stan Sport. Then you got most of Australian soccer where the National team’s performance isn’t bad while the Matildas is rising but then the A-League domestic leagues is another who is still not on the same page as it once was before. They got two more seasons left to run before the next TV rights deal comes into play from the 2026-27 season.

First of all, the Paramount + paid streaming product grew so slowly then the free-to-air channel had some really low ratings during their first year where 10 changed their arrangement to two free-to-air weekend games on 10 Bold and the all other women’s competition games were made available via 10 Play online ever since. Then you got the parent ownership uncertainty where Paramount could get a new owner and suddenly 10 may no longer be part of their business which could change everything here at the Pyrmont building in Sydney. The question is could we see a bit more free-to-air content to try and get back more lost viewers? and even if the A-Leagues does leave 10, where they’re gonna go? Because not many others would wanna take it when Seven has cricket and Nine has tennis during the other half of the year (which is the summer time).

You could also say that the proposed National 2nd division championship might help from next year but then it’s a product that is yet to be tried and tested. Lots to answer here with Network 10’s long-term plans over the next coming years.

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Last year, Monday Night Football was unexpectedly on free-to-air via ABC every week for the whole of last season in the NFL due to the Hollywood strikes that halted daily activity amongst all networks in the scripted world. This dispute went on for a couple of months until the agreement was finally reached to turn the switch back on around October-November last year where most shows including existing ones were able to get back to work right away on what has been an unusual and shortened prime-time TV season, which has been currently running from February-early March to until at least the end of this month. Now MNF will be back to its part-time slate next season as it originally was with 5-6 simulcast games with ESPN and three exclusive ABC games. They will also continue to air two post-season Playoff games together with the Wild Card that has been going on for nearly a decade while having the Divisional game once again following their first time out back in January.

When they will air a Super Bowl game again? It will be the 61st edition in February 2027 at Sofi Stadium in California for the first time over 20 years that goes back to 2006 when ABC Sports was around for one last ride before it became ESPN on ABC.

I guess they won’t be paying a bit more extra money to make the weekly free-to-air simulcasts happen at least until at least the next NFL TV contact comes in from 2034 while they can air a bit more Super Bowls when the scripted world is back in full activity as expect to see reality TV content again in its place like Dancing With the Stars or 1-2 from the Bachelor franchise.

I think it will be the latter with the Bachelor in Paradise like it was back in late 2022 followed by an hour of the older-skewing show like The Golden Bachelorette or Golden Bachelor since DWTS wouldn’t wanna leave free-to-air again anytime soon on Tuesdays, which could see for a full season of Will Trent in place of the soon-to-be-outgoing The Good Doctor at 10pm.

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The final game of the big month of International Hockey in Perth ends right here today at Curtin University between the Hockeyroos v Japan, even though the women’s four-team series winner already went to China after their 4-1 win v Japan last night that capped off their unbeaten run to the tournament including from last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Hockeyroos. 

Hockeyroos at last found the early lead where they usually score in the later stages thanks to a successful penalty goal by Clare Colwill while dominating the pitch with a 1-0 lead going into half-time. Then they went on to follow up with back-to-back counter attacking goals despite seeing some ill-discipline here and there by both sides – one was by Rosie Malone after Japan struggled to find someone at their own end and another was Maddy Brooks off the back of a tap and go play where she found Malone in the middle with the pass as the ball might have deflected by the Japanese keeper but Brooks fortunately found the clean finish to the net. In the end, the Hockeyroos were glad to finish off their month of April here with the win 3-0.

As said, great to see the Hockeyroos step up a bit having got away with the early penalty goal (1st quarter) before they went all in on the counter with back-to-back goals in the 2nd half or each of the last two quarters. What they can do something better though is make the most out of their attacking executions where hit and misses were there despite posing a decent threat in the final third. It might be okay when playing against a lower opposition like Japan but not against the best of the rest teams like China & the Netherlands. They need to better get it going right from the very start and surely we’ll see them score more often with a good lead in the middle. And on Japan, they were lucky to get away from most of the Hockeyroos missed shot on goal targets as the first half was mostly quiet even though they were 1-0 down by half-time. It made them spot the Hockeyroos attackers well defensively, having gave them a hard time like it was in the first game last Saturday. But still, they are still very limited in the way they attack who only scored just the one goal in this tournament (yesterday v China) other than playing Australia A. They might have almost scored that was so unlucky when they got the chance after the break but then not so much on a regularly as Japan need to group things together & score goals that would mean winning games.

Well that’s it from here as we had a great month of International Hockey at our own backyard in Perth. It began with a 5-0 winning whitewash by our men’s Kookaburras team fair and square v India. Yes, things aren’t exactly the same by the Hockeyroos when going up against a tough Chinese opposition whose coach is also Aussie and calls the Netherlands home, but still they had some moments with some wins v Japan while getting the chance to play against our up and coming youngsters via the Australia A team. Now let’s hope the Kookaburras finish off the last leg of the FIH Pro League campaign almost if not all being undefeated, while Hockeyroos look to improve against the likes of Argentina and Germany as they will both back in a month’s time on what is about to be a long stay in Europe with the Paris Olympics not far away in July-August.

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We saw that coming when China won the opening Pro League season game v the Hockeyroos and yet we’ve seen this happening once again, even though the Hockeyroos played a bit more better where they fell short in the tri-series Kara night at the Perth Hockey Stadium. The first half was a goal scoring fest with China taking the early lead before the Hockeyroos bounced back with back-to-back goals in quick succession through open play as they lead 2-1 at half-time. Then things weren’t the same as the Hockeyroos couldn’t build on their lead up front that led to China scoring the second goal while having to suffer some ill-discipline along the way during the third quarter. Unfortunately, nothing much happened going into the last 15 mins with the defense including the keeper had a really hard time stopping the Chinese’s shifting passage of play before another conceded goal this time via penalty corner saw the writings on the wall as the clock ticks down. 

The final score was Hockeyroos 2-3 China with China well in the box seat towards taking home the women’s tri-series trophy as long as they beat Japan again on Saturday. Now we enter the weekend’s final slate of games before International Hockey will be back for 2nd half of the FIH Pro League season, which will resume in a month’s time all across Europe.

As said, the Hockeyroos had some moments where they were really threatening up front alongside a good defense that kept the Chinese in check all along. They just couldn’t make the most of the early starts which is one weakness that goes against them; Same goes when they led 2-1 after half-time where the momentum began to die down after a couple of hit and miss finishes & that’s where China were able to get it done in return. Gotta say a better early start and attacking conversions whilst leading would be the way to go if the Hockeyroos are to have a strong finish of the FIH Pro League season that would mean a strong Olympics campaign in Paris as they’re not there yet right now. They might have won big that late yesterday v Australia A but they still need to show a full hour performance come Sunday v Japan again. Meanwhile, China was able to regroup themselves following the Hockeyroos missed chances and put the pressure back onto the opposition by making their passage of play more organised through the channels where goals were made left, right and centre. Yes, they might had some weaknesses as the game goes on, particularly at the back. But when they shift themselves up front, they barely put a foot wrong with patience and it seems China were the better team after turning themselves around from 2-1 down at half-time to 3-2 in the end. Gotta say they deserve to take home this tri-series trophy as they are a team who won’t give anyone a free run including the Hockeyroos as if they see China as a 2nd Netherlands team when Alyson Annan is the coach there.

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Well, we’ve got a draw at least having seen both teams score all two goals during each of the two separate halves to wrap up Game 2 in the women’s tri-series between the Hockeyroos v China at Curtin University (Perth Hockey Stadium) in Perth. The first 15 minutes was quiet for a start before China got away with back-to-back goals that gave them the upper hand going into the half-time break. Then the Hockeyroos were relieved to struck one back off the penalty corner by Greta Hayes in the 3rd quarter & although they might have ran out of time unlike yesterday v Japan when Mariah Williams scored the only late winner despite being a great threat in the attacking third, but a quick counter attacking finish by Steph Kershaw thanks to an excellent Hayes intercept was enough to hold China back & deny them the win with seven minutes left on the clock (4th Qtr).

We know how good China was when they make good use of the opposition’s missed opportunities and making the most of their own wisely that rang alarm bells to the Hockeyroos backline with back-to-back 2nd quarter goals in quick succession. If there’s one thing they will need to watch out for is their own defense. They were relieved to get away from the endless Hockeyroos shots on target where most of them were hit and misses but they really need to be careful at times and not losing the ball away which ruined their good start in the end. I would say though when they face Japan next up on Tuesday, they would wanna make the most of their attack against the opposition scrambled defense & that would be the key towards taking away that boost of confidence & possibly coming back better to haunt the Hockeyroos once more come Wednesday.

Meanwhile, it’s good to see the Hockeyroos posing a huge threat in their attack with lots of chances provided to get the job done. Now they could’ve done something better earlier on where there were a lack of numbers for someone to back one up & strike the ball through the net where the Hockeyroos would be pocketing 2-0 their way, not to the other team from China. But they have made some amends at last with Rosie Malone working so hard to take the ball off China later on that provided some much needed relief for the Hockeyroos to get back on track in the middle or within the circle with successful strikes coming from Hayes and Kershaw 1 v 1 past the keeper, even though a late win might have seen the ship being sailed away from both teams by full-time. They got a game next up against Australia A on Tuesday as part of the Olympic preparations that would help sort out their best squad ahead of the Summer Olympics in Paris during July-August before coming back for another meeting v China come Wednesday as they need to make the most out of their attacking executions & not let these chances being hit & misses again while making the defense ready and alert so they don’t fall behind later during the match.

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Also earlier tonight over in Perth in between 19 minutes and 9km each from tonight’s Western Force v Crusaders clash at HBF Park is Game 1 of the Perth International Festival of Hockey women’s tri-series between the Hockeyroos v Japan at Perth Hockey Stadium within Curtin University. It was a tough contest to say with Hockeyroos making the most chances in attack and shot on goal while Japan have been solid as a rock at the back defensively where we didn’t have a score at all for nearly the whole time through the four quarters of play. There’s no penalty shootout nor a VAR referral if the game went quiet without a goal or equaliser just for series since the games were arranged as an extra Olympics preparation a few weeks ago.

But in the end, the Hockeyroos were relieved to escape Japan unscathed with the 1-0 win and there’s one person who made such a difference to put inside the net is forward Mariah Williams. She too have intercepted the Japanese’s play at the back under pressure while trying to settle the score as it is before Mariah smacked the ball just within the cricle from the wide left like a rocket and there goes the one and only goal with only 55 seconds left to go – how good!! Gotta say she’s a game changer like she did at the World Cup two years ago in Spain v the exact same opponent during the opening game which was quite a coincidence & sure she will do the same again that would be handy in the next upcoming games including China tomorrow. Hats off to Steph Kershaw who also made a difference linking up with the forwards to provide the best attacking opportunities including penalty corners as well even though it wasn’t easy to get the job done v the scrambled Japan backline.

And speaking of Japan, they were oh so good defensively – who were well aware and alert of the Hockeyroos’ dangerous forwards – having seen the keeper saving a few while being able to stop them in its tracks that left them frustrated without a goal for the majority. Although they were unlucky to lose the ball at their own end which led to Mariah’s late winning strike, but they would’ve liked to match the opposition attackers though when it comes to trying to get themselves towards getting shots on goal more often and that is something Japan needs to work on in their next game v China for Game 3 on Tuesday.

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What a way to finish up the five-match series with a 5-0 whitewash by the Men’s Kookaburras team over India at the Perth Hockey Stadium. Game 4 and 5 saw India take the early advantage thanks to their excellent defense that restricted the Kookaburras attacking and conversion play, which helped them stay in the game whether if it’s 1-0 up or 1-1 at half-time.

But then what really let them down is their lack of attacking fire by relaxing the back four a bit to try and close it out their way when the Kookaburras’s last two quarters form was simply amazing to turn things around at the same time and yet we have seen goal after goal in quick succession & that is how the Kookaburras wanted to bring it home in front of their home fans for one last time in the meantime ahead of their 4 months stay in Europe. The final scores are 3-1 in Game 4 and 3-2 in Game 5.

So surely the Kookaburras need to go all out from the start and make the most of their complete attack as if they’re playing the Netherlands, Argentina or Germany all the time that would mean another breakthrough Olympics Gold since 2004 in Athens, Greece as they are now ranked in 3rd, while India as said need to push themselves up the pitch on top of their rock-solid defense but good to see them pick up more pluses though as they progress where wins will go their way soon enough.

Other than that, thank you to India for accepting the invitation to play a bit of Hockey here against our Kookaburras whose next games will be in Europe late next month to roll out the remaining FIH Pro League Season. But wait there’s more as the big International festival of Hockey in Perth isn’t done just yet with the women’s Hockeyroos team back on the field in a week-long Tri-Series tournament against China and Japan starting on Saturday – same time, same place with the first match up being Japan including a bit of Australia A along the way to help the best select their Olympics squad for Paris later this year.

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Gotta say fair play to India on their valiant defensive performance that restricted most of the Kookaburras’ shots on target while being able to get away with the 1-0 lead for a bit off their 2nd penalty corner shot by Jugraj Singh before they were equalised 1-1 after quiet 2/3rds play – including a mighty effort from the goalkeeper who saved quite a lot and never backed down by P.R Sreejesh. But the win still belongs to the Kookaburras at home as they have clinched the five-match series 3-0 with two games to spare courtesy of a Jeremy Hayward double strike performance. The two goals he got away are one was a straight one-on-one penalty stroke after Amit Rhoidas couldn’t clear Joey Rintala out of the way at India’s own end & another was a penalty corner after his side regained some attacking momentum in the final third not long after India’s goal.

Now that the Kookaburras have secured the Men’s Perth Cup, they would need to be a bit better at their executions where a lot of shots on target were hit and misses or else the missed opportunities could go the opposition’s way like it was yesterday and also during the first-half of Game 2. This would be the big difference if they wish to dominate the rest of the FIH Pro League season as well as winning gold at the Paris Olympics in France later this year. And as for India, their defense is really strong and rock solid that frustrated most of the Kookburras failed conversions including penalty corners. They just need to make the most of their attack a bit more and we could see a really good contest all along with India still right in contention.

Game 4 coming up later tomorrow at the Perth Hockey Stadium before the series wraps up for Game 5 on Saturday. Will the Kookaburras sort out their attacking conversions like it was in Game 1 with a excellent start to the series 5-1 to try safeguard their lead for the win or can India get the job done more than just penalty corners on top of their rock solid defense? 

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Game 2 yesterday saw some much needed improvements from India, who quickly derailed the Kookaburra’s good 1-0 early start with a successful penalty corner of their own before another goal puts them right in front of the Aussies ahead at half-time, 1-2. But then India couldn’t defend their one-point lead, especially in the 3rd quarter where the Kookaburas scored all three goals in one go before a quiet last 15 mins sealed the home team another win in Perth, 4-2.

Great to see Jeremy Hayward piling up back-to-back goals as he’s so destructive when striking off from penalty corners, while the Kookaburras put in a massive team effort to rip off the Indian defense off the back of the remaining two goals from Jacob Anderson & Nathan Ephraums & also credit to Flynn Ogilvie who read the opposition gaps by intercepting the ball really well.

As said from India, they know how to stop the Kookaburras which gave them a slight advantage in the first half. But a lack of attacking fire later on have compromised their good defensive structure where India walked away with another loss in the end. Questions will need to be asked if they wish to turn around come Game 3 on Wednesday. It’s a must win game for them as all the Kookaburras gotta do is win again to make it 3-0 and the Perth series trophy is theirs with two games to spare.

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