Dishing out roses for the 2016 sporting year

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

With this being the time of the year when the countries sports commentators make up their winners and losers list for the previous twelve months - Sideline Sid has joined the queue to dish out a few roses for the 2016 sporting year.

Starting with the team of the year, the All Blacks again reigned supreme, with just a solitary stain of defeat to Ireland on their season ledger card.

Few would deny the Irish their moment of glory after 111 years of trying to beat the ABs.

On the local front, Sid's team of the year are the Judea premier rugby side, who hosted the Baywide Division One title final at Maharaia Winiata Park.

The little club, hidden away near the shores of Tauranga Harbour, punched above their weight to defeat a number of clubs that have played in the top echelon of Baywide rugby overs the years to make the title decider.

On a day where gumboots were the footwear of choice at Judea headquarters, the Div One final encounter turned into a marathon, after the scores were locked at 13 all after the regulation 80 minutes.

While former premier contenders Te Teko went on to take out the game, the Judea boys gave their all in combat on the field.

While the kiwi Olympians rightly dominate most of the countries end of year sports headlines, this grey headed sports writer has selected a cricket player as his Western Bay of Plenty unsung hero.

Bharat Popli, who ply's his trade as a Northern Knights professional player, has rewritten the Bay of Plenty Cricket history books.

During the past sporting year, Bharat blasted his tenth century for the Bay of Plenty representative cricket team, which is five more than any other Bay player since the formation of the Bay of Plenty Cricket Association in 1932.

He is closing in on 3000 runs, since making a century on debut against Hamilton in 2008, while still at Tauranga Boys' College. 

Sid's pick as his Western Bay of Plenty rising star is another cricket player.

In just her first year at Tauranga Girls' College, Nensi Patel has earned selection in the Northern Spirit who play in NZ Cricket Women's major association competition.

In a year where upsets and comebacks took centre stage in many sporting contests – Sid's sporting moment of 2016, was played out on Australian television, on his winter sojourn across the ditch.

Australian Chloe Esposito came from miles off the pace in the running and shooting gold medal decider of the women's pentathlon, to storm home to win the Olympic title in a remarkable upset victory.

Looking forward to the 2017 national sporting year, the AB's will continue to dominate world rugby, with the Warriors giving us another roller coaster ride in the NRL, with plenty of talk and hyperbole during the season.

Sid's New Year wishes include the Breakers and the Wellington Phoenix to start to win again on the road and make the playoffs, and the Black Caps to beat the cricket team from across the Tasman, in the Chappell/Hadlee series in New Zealand in February.


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