Break­ers do it again and a rugby leg­end dies at 92

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By STEVEN SA­MUELS

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.

Elite few: Eric Bell joins a small num­ber of in­door bowlers to have won 10 in­door bowls ti­tles.

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