Johnathan Thurston airs his frustration to referee Shayne Hayne.
Photo: Getty Images
Andy Murray (Scotland)
The new, steely Murray grabbed his (and Britain's) long overdue grand slam triumph during a rollercoaster five-set US Open final win over Novak Djokovic which finally confirmed the Scot as the real tennis deal. The old Andy, who had lost his previous four grand slam finals, would surely have crumbled after the Serb clawed his way back into the match with the third and fourth sets, and might even have gone to water after dropping his serve while leading 3-0 in the decider, but Murray’s self-belief at last matched his ability to bring him his deserved win. An honourable mention goes to Murray's coach Ivan Lendl, who himself had to fight off the 'choker' tag early in his career before realising his potential.
Taylor Walker (Adelaide)
After Fremantle burst out to a 29-point lead early over Adelaide in their semi-final at AAMI Stadium, the Crows needed a hero. Jason Porplyzia was lively but he wasn't going to win the game, while Kurt Tippett was being well held by Zac Dawson. Enter the mullet. Walker took Alex Silvagni to the cleaners, booting five goals on the Dockers defender to lead the charging Crows to a 10-point win. He kicked three goals either side of half time and added two more in the last quarter, including the sealer. Hawthorn's key defenders will have plenty of work to do to keep Walker in check in their preliminary final.
Adam Reynolds (South Sydney)
Reynolds was instrumental in the Bunnies' crushing 38-16 semi-final victory over the Raiders, playing a big part in ensuring the Rabbitohs didn't leave the finals series in straight sets. The 22-year-old, in his first season of the top grade, crossed for a try and booted seven from eight for a personal haul of 18 points, which saw him surpass 200 for the season – the only other Rabbitoh to accomplish that was Eric Simms 42 years ago. Reynolds had a hand in four other tries, including a bomb which led to a try for Sam Burgess, a grubber which provided Dylan Farrell with a four-pointer and a kick over the top to put Andrew Everingham in for his second try.
Alex Silvagni (Fremantle)
The Docker has played just five games under Ross Lyon in 2012, down from 24 in two seasons under Mark Harvey. After his repeated brain fades against Adelaide, it's clear why Lyon was so reluctant. Silvagni was soundly beaten by five-goal Crow Taylor Walker but it was a 60-second burst late in the last term that he will rue for a long time. The ball was fed back to Silvagni on the wing and he pumped the ball forward - and over the boundary line on the full, instead of at his waiting teammates. The resulting free kick drove Adelaide forward and Silvagni failed to make a contest in the goal square, allowing Walker to mark virtually unimpeded for the game-sealing goal.
Paul Simpkins and Steve Clark
Simpkins and Clark will be lucky to officiate as video referees again in 2012 following their decision to allow a benefit of the doubt try to Manly's Michael Oldfield against North Queensland. Sea Eagles playmaker Kieran Foran appeared to knock on earlier in the play, but the try was granted, much to the dismay of fans, commentators and Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston, who said to the on-field referee he felt his team were "robbed". The try was a vital one with the Sea Eagles extending their lead from 16-12 to 22-12 with the conversion and only 18 minutes remaining in the match. Manly went on to win without any further points added. Jorge Taufua's 52nd minute try, also benefit of the doubt, could have been ruled a double movement, but that was a 50-50 proposition. However, as referees boss Stuart Raper conceded, the Oldfield try shouldn't have been awarded.
Athletes protesting their innocence after testing positive to drugs is commonplace. Finding out an athlete's coach was sprinkling her food with steroids without her knowledge isn't. Belarussian shotputter Nadzeya Ostapchuk was briefly the London Olympic gold medallist before recording a positive test, which turned out (probably) to be the work of Yefimov, who did not deny the allegations when they were put to him. His only comment: "I will change my name to Idiot" reads like a not-so-cryptic tacit admission to the dopey feat.
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