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Big weekend on the sporting and political front

Opinion Piece

Politics and sport battled for the limelight in a hectic end to the news week, and as usual in New Zealand it is the big sporting contests that will have won most attention.

In politics there was drama around the TPP 11 trade deal, which all of a sudden seemed doomed on Saturday only to be resurrected less than 24 hours later as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

It is a mouthful if ever there was one, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it is a “damned sight better” deal than it was and could be signed in only a few months.

Also, as APEC wound down, Ardern made another strong call to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to take up New Zealand’s offer to take 150 asylum seekers from Manus Island.

Both were highly significant events in a week that seemed to be packed with stories, but by mid-Sunday sports followers were coming to the end of a weekend close to their idea of heaven.

First on Saturday afternoon there was the brave effort of the All Whites to hold the technically superior Peru — ranked 112 places higher in football world rankings — to a 0-0 draw in front of a New Zealand record soccer crowd of 38,000. It is only going to get harder in Lima on Thursday, but they did the country proud.

Also doing their country proud on Saturday afternoon was the Tongan rugby league team who beat the Kiwis 28-22 in a match that contained a strong element of needle. It is a pity celebrations in Otahuhu turned ugly with more than 50 arrests — unlike the joyful celebration by about 40 supporters in Gladstone Road that night.

Rugby followers had a choice of test matches from the early hours of Sunday morning, culminating in the All Blacks playing France at the civilised hour of 8.30am on a day when it was much better to stay inside anyway.

In all the excitement, we hope people did not forget that the weekend marked the 99th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War 1.