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  • 20 Mar
    导出博客文章After 15 rounds, there they are again at the top of the AFL ladder, just as they
    have been for much of the past decade, looking down on the rest of the
    competition.Hawthorn and Sydney sit first and second respectively, and on
    Thursday evening play off in one of the most eagerly anticipated home-and-away
    matches of the year.Longmire extends Swans dealWhile most neutral observers will
    enjoy watching two potential grand finalists going toe-to-toe, there is another
    appeal - the knowledge that, come 10.45pm on Thursday, one of those two
    powerhouses will have suffered a defeat.Thats what its come to: the dominance of
    the same two or three clubs (Geelong is up there, too) each season is affecting
    the codes popularity. People are getting bored by the utter predictability of
    the competition which is beginning to have echoes of the Scottish football
    league, when Celtic and Rangers shared the championship between them virtually
    every year.For all the AFL Commissions attempts at levelling the playing field,
    through the draft, salary cap and equalisation payments, Hawthorn and Sydney
    continue to defy the social engineering. Like two cockroaches, they just march
    through the AFLs stream of Mortein and saddle up for another season of
    success.Hawthorn officials were understandably jubilant after winning the grand
    final last season, thumping a pathetic West Coast to claim their third
    premiership in a row.Yet when the leagues two heavyweights, chief executive
    Gillon McLachlan and chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, walked into the rooms
    afterwards, their faces hardly radiated happiness and the joy of life.The pair
    was privately furious that the Hawks had again scuppered their best-laid plans
    at producing a vibrant, exciting, even, fair-for-all competition. Hawthorn
    officials were nonplussed by the lack of magnanimity.This is one area where the
    NRL has had it all over the AFL in recent seasons: the variety of premiers.In
    the past nine seasons, three clubs have dominated the AFL competition - Geelong,
    Hawthorn and Sydney - with Collingwood breaking the nexus in 2010. Yet the NRL
    has produced six different premiers in the past six seasons alone - and four
    different clubs again that have finished runner-up.There is not the same
    entrenched superiority among the rugby league clubs. Even fans of the smaller,
    less established teams know at the start of each season that, if the coach and
    administration are half-decent, theyve got a fighting chance of featuring in the
    grand final. That North Queensland, based in tiny Townsville, can knock off the
    mighty Broncos of Brisbane in the big one - and what a contest last year that
    proved to be.Of course there is universal respect - and sneaky admiration - for
    the way the footy operations are run at Hawthorn and Sydney. With peerless
    administrations that boast clever recruiters and brilliant coaches - and foster
    rock-solid cultures - the two clubs are the envy of many.But if they play off in
    the grand final again this year, the collective groan from most non-aligned
    footy supporters in Melbourne will be heard all the way up the Hume Highway, and
    across the Nullarbor.This remains the AFLs great challenge. Yet when theyve
    needed to show a bit of backbone and defend their equalisation policies, and
    stand up to the rampant self-interest of powerful clubs such as Collingwood and
    the Hawks, they have tended to cave in like jellyfish.Because of the bleating of
    the Pies and Hawks, among others, we are now lumbered with a hopelessly
    compromised system where those two uber-rich clubs are paying not much more each
    year in equalisation monies than middle-tier clubs such as Richmond and Geelong.
    And that means the smaller clubs, who have been routinely shafted on the matter
    of free-to-air TV exposure, Friday night timeslots, lack of blockbuster fixtures
    and woeful stadium deals, are again short-changed.The Western Bulldogs, or
    Footscray as they once were, have not tasted final-Saturday success since 1954 -
    their one and only premiership. Only St Kilda fans with long memories will
    recall their sole triumph, in 1966, while Melbourne - in spite of a lengthy
    period dominating the competition in the 1950s and early 60s - have not lifted
    the premiership cup since 1964.Thats an excruciating wait for three
    disenfranchised generations of fans at those three clubs.Yet here we are again
    with those brown-and-gold Hawks, and Sydneys red-and-white Swans, perched atop
    the ladder and once again leading the charge towards September.
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    round-of-32 tie after winning their first meeting 4-1. ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -- No.
    7 seed Tennessee scored less than a minute into the game and never looked back
    in a 2-0 victory over No. 10 seed Ole Miss in the first round of the SEC
    Tournament on Monday afternoon in Orange Beach, Ala.The Volunteers scored their
    quickest goal of the season to go up 1-0 just 45 seconds into the game.
    Mackenzie Gouner sprung Hannah Wilkinson free in the box with a good ball over
    the top of the defense and the New Zealand native calmly chipped Ole Miss
    goalkeeper Marnie Merritt for her 11th goal of the season.The quick start didnt
    deflate the Rebels, however, as they generated a handful of quality chances
    throughout the game. Ole Miss outshot Tennessee, 9-4, in the opening 45 minutes
    but had just three shots on target. UT had the upper hand in corner kicks with
    four compared to just two for the Rebels and went to the break leading 1-0.Ole
    Miss continued to press early in the second half and nearly pulled level on
    multiple occasions. A great defensive play by Rylie OKeefe denied a sure goal
    for the Rebels in the 55th minute. The second-team All-SEC selection made a
    perfect slide tackle to dispossess Ole Miss forward Gabby Little in front of a
    wide-open net in the 55th minute. Wilkinson had a couple of half chances for
    Tennessee minutes later, but sent one over the crossbar and another wide.The
    Vols survived another close call in the 68th minute when SShae Yanez made an
    incredible save from point-blank range on CeCe Kizer before the rebound attempt
    hit off the bottom of the crossbar.dddddddddddd Yanez was stellar on the night,
    making six saves to record her third solo shutout of the season.After weathering
    the storm by Ole Miss, Carlyn Baldwin put the game on ice for the Volunteers by
    converting a penalty kick in the 82nd minute. Ariel Kupritz drew the call after
    being taken down in the box on a breakaway by the Rebels goalkeeper, who was
    shown a red card on the play. Baldwin calmly slotted the penalty kick home to
    the lower left corner to give Tennessee a 2-0 lead.Ole Miss finished with a
    19-13 shot advantage but only had a 6-5 edge in shots on goal. Gretchen Harknett
    led all players with five shots for the afternoon. The victory helped Tennessee
    improve to 15-12-5 all-time in SEC Tournament games and 2-1-2 under Brian
    Pensky. The Vols almost remained unbeaten this season when leading at halftime,
    improving to 8-0.With the win, the Big Orange advance to the SEC Tournament
    quarterfinals for a rematch with No. 2 seed Auburn. The Vols will try to avenge
    a 3-1 loss to the Tigers last Thursday in their regular-season finale. UT and
    Auburn will square off on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. ' ' '