Breakers do it again and a rugby legend dies at 92
The Breakers have had another wonderful season winning the Australian National Basketball League title for the second consecutive year.
They faced the Perth Wildcats in a threegame final series winning two games to one.
Losing the second game in Perth meant they returned for the decider in front of a sold- out, fanatical home crowd.
Many of the players from last year’s win- ning team repeated their triumph this year.
Breakers guard CJ Bruton and American import Cedric Jackson played well throughout the season, setting up baskets for other players and generally wreaking havoc in the opposition’s defence.
Other proven performers such as long- time players Dylan Boucher, Mika Vukona, Gary Wilkinson performed admirably throughout the season and in the finals.
Many of the younger Breakers such as Thomas Abercrombie, Alex Pledger and Darryl Corletto proved they could handle anything that came their way.
This win has been the culmination of a lot of hard work over the last four or five seasons.
I remember watching them struggling near the foot of the table, making the smart acquisition of several very experienced players.
From 2004 to 2007 the team’s highest placing was 10th. In 2008 they improved to finish seventh, in 2009 third, 2010 fifth then wins in 2011 and 2012.
Coach Andrej Lemanis has done an excellent job, helping the Breakers to the finals three years running, becoming the first New Zealand team to win an Australian competition.
A sad note was the death last weekend of All Black legend Sir Fred ( the Needle) Allen. Born February 9 1920 in Oamaru, brought up and educated in Christchurch and completing secondary school at Auckland Grammar where he played in the First XV.
He was selected for the Canterbury Colts in 1938 after playing for Linwood Rugby Club and the following year he graduated to the Canterbury representative team.
During World War II he served as a lieutenant in the 27th and 30th battalions, and during this time he played for the Services team, including the famous second NZEF Kiwi Services team that toured Britain after the war.
Returning to New Zealand, he settled in Auckland and was selected for Auckland and the All Blacks.
In 1949 he was named as captain of the team to tour South Africa.
Even though the games were close, the series was lost 4-0 and he retired as a player after the series.
He took up coaching and became selectorcoach of the Auckland team during their successful Ranfurly Shield era of the late 1950s.
He became an All Blacks selector, before becoming All Blacks coach in 1966.
He had the reputation as a hard man on the field who demanded high standards from his players, hence the nickname The Needle.
This was a highly successful era for the All Blacks; they won every test match played with Allen as the coach.
In 2005 he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame and awarded Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby in 2010.
Sir Fred Allen was a true legend of the All Blacks and world rugby.
The nation’s condolences,i am sure, go out to his family.
While his passing is sad, we acknowledge his wonderful life.
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