It was always going to be a big week in sport, but COVID-19 caused extra drama.
COVID-19 restrictions cause fixture chaos
Fresh coronavirus-related restrictions have caused chaos across multiple competitions, including Super Netball, which will reschedule a match between the Melbourne Vixens and the West Coast Fever that could not go ahead yesterday.
Three Vixens players — Emily Mannix, Kate Moloney and Jo Weston — were refused entry to Western Australia during the week, as were the replacement players subsequently chosen by the Vixens. West Coast reportedly turned down an offer to move the match to Queensland, instead suggesting that Melbourne could hastily sign replacement players from other states.
In a statement released on Friday, the Fever declared it was “extremely disappointed” that the Vixens had “refused” to travel to Perth, describing the situation as “devastating for […] members, sponsors and fans” and “not in the best interests of the competition”. The next day, Netball Australia confirmed that the cancelled match would be rescheduled.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 situation in New South Wales compelled the AFL to move yesterday’s clash between GWS and the Hawks away from Sydney, with the MCG chosen as the replacement venue. Hawthorn capitalised on its unexpected home ground advantage to claim an 18-point victory over the Giants, who fell away after kicking the first four goals of the game.
In Perth, the Eagles hosted the Bulldogs in front of an empty Optus Stadium, after the state government introduced restrictions on gatherings. West Coast slumped to a shocking 55-point defeat, with most of the damage inflicted in the final term. The round concluded with Carlton defeating Adelaide by ten points at Marvel Stadium. Reigning premier Richmond finished the weekend sitting precariously in eighth place, following a dreadful 40-point loss to St Kilda.
The NRL is also rushing to adapt to restrictions, as several of the league’s upcoming matches — including the third game of the State of Origin series — are under threat. New South Wales has already sealed a series victory, winning the second State of Origin game by 26 points last night. The third leg, scheduled for 14 July in Sydney, may be moved to a different location.
Melbourne teams claim NBL, A-League championships
It was a successful week for Melbourne-based teams, with Melbourne United and Melbourne City winning the NBL and A-League championships respectively.
Melbourne United had taken a two-nil lead in the NBL’s best-of-five Grand Final series, defeating the Wildcats twice in Perth the previous week. The third match of the series, held at John Cain Arena on Friday, shaped as a must-win game for Perth and an opportunity for United to clinch the championship in a clean sweep.
A promising start by United saw the home team lead by as many as 16 points in the first period, before the Wildcats fought back to take a three-point lead in the third period. Ultimately, Melbourne prevailed by five points, sealing its Grand Final victory with two games to spare.
On Sunday night, Melbourne City claimed its first A-League championship with an impressive Grand Final victory over Sydney FC at AAMI Park. Sydney scored first, but the side’s one-nil lead lasted only a few minutes before Nathaniel Atkinson found an equaliser. City took the lead through a penalty goal late in the first half, and controlled possession throughout the second half, before a Scott Galloway goal sealed the win in front of 14,017 fans.
Social media users were quick to point out that Melbourne-based teams now dominate Australian sport; the reigning premiers or champions of the AFL, NRL, Super Netball, NBL, WNBL, A-League and ABL are all based in Melbourne.
Collingwood finishes VFLW home-and-away season undefeated
The Women’s VFL home-and-away season has come to a close with reigning premier Collingwood sitting on top of the ladder, four wins clear of second-placed Geelong. The two sides met on Saturday afternoon at Victoria Park, and although the Magpies had already secured the minor premiership, they fought doggedly for a 19-point win over a Geelong side that failed to kick a goal.
Despite the result, the Cats joined Collingwood in securing the double chance. Geelong and the Magpies will meet again in the qualifying final, while Port Melbourne will play the Saints and Casey will play Essendon in the elimination finals.
The premiership is Collingwood’s to lose, as the Magpies are yet to register a loss in 14 games, and will enjoy the advantages of finishing in the top two.