Sports round up archive
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Monday March 22nd
Soccer - Chelsea v Arsenal in Champions
Chelsea gets another chance to prove
it can beat Arsenal in the quarter finals of the UEFA
Champions League. The Gunners are on a high at the
moment with the Premiership, FA Cup and Champions
League all firmly in their sights. But standing in
their way to Champions League glory is Chelsea with
the first leg of the quarter finals to be played on
Wednesday at Stamford Bridge. The biggest battle for
the Blues, however, won't be physical but psychological.
Last month in league and FA Cup games, Chelsea went
down to Arsenal despite having a 1-nil lead at one
stage in both matches. This time around there is a
renewed confidence at Chelsea with everyone from the
club's chief executive to manager Claudio Ranieri
speaking with a renewed determination about how they
can beat Arsenal. Both teams are coming off solid
wins in the Premiership and should be at full strength.
In other first leg, quarter final
matches Milan hosts Deportivo, Porto is at home to
Lyon and Monaco is away to Real Madrid.
Rugby League - Warriors Struggling
The Warriors are the surprise team
at the bottom of the NRL ladder after two rounds and
are facing an ominous opponent this weekend. The New
Zealand side has yet to post a win this season leaving
many in shock especially after their loss at home
to St George-Illawarra. The Warriors are again at
Ericsson Stadium this weekend when they host defending
champions Penrith. Coach Daniel Anderson said his
side lacked spirit in the loss to the Dragons and
will be hoping for a return of some emotion for the
game against the Panthers.
Joining the Warriors as the only other
team yet to register a win this season is Cronulla.
The Sharks are still fighting to disassociate themselves
with the word 'hapless' although the signs of improvement
are there. Cronulla was unlucky to go down to the
Bulldogs and their performance will surely give them
some motivation for the round 3 match against the
Sea Eagles at home. Nigel Vagana, who has been struggling
with a shoulder injury, could make his debut for the
Sharks against Manly if he passes a fitness test.
NBL - Sin-City Series to be a Scorcher
The NBL trophy will stay in Sydney
this year but where? For the first time, the Sydney
Kings and the West Sydney Razorbacks will battle for
the NBL championship. Both teams had relatively easy
semi final series, needing only the two games to beat
the Bullets and the Hawks respectively to a grand
final berth. West Sydney arguably performed better
in their series against Wollongong although the fact
the Kings were pushed to the limit in both their games
could hold them in good stead for the finals. They've
also been the team to beat all season. One thing is
for sure, the grand final series will be anything
but boring. There is no love lost between the two
clubs with Pigs forward Simon Dwight already accusing
the Kings of arrogance. Perhaps they have a right
to be having already won a championship and now going
for back-to-back titles. After joining the league
in 1998/1999, West Sydney made it to the grand final
in 2002 only to go down to Adelaide. The first game
of the five match series is on Wednesday night at
the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
Rugby Union - Brumbies Back on
The Brumbies return to Canberra from
South Africa on top of the Super 12 table. Overall,
the ACT had a good fortnight in South Africa. They
did lose to the Bulls but fought back against the
Stormers the following week to claim top spot on the
Super 12 table. The next test for the Brumbies will
be against Queensland in Canberra this Sunday. The
Reds are coming off the bye and will be keen for a
win to keep their hopes of a semi-final appearance
alive. But they'll probably have to do it without
captain Elton Flatley who, at this stage, has been
ruled out after suffering another knock to the head.
For the Brumbies, winger Clyde Rathbone is expected
to be right despite sustaining an ankle injury against
Meanwhile, the Waratahs will need
to beat the Chiefs in New Zealand if they're to stop
what could be yet another fall from grace midway through
a Super 12 season. New South Wales lost both games
in South Africa and won't have Mat Rogers in Hamilton
after he aggravated his ankle injury.
Thursday March 25th
The AFL season kicks
off this weekend with the Lions still favourites to
win the premiership at Sportsbet at $3.25. Collingwood
at $7.00 are just ahead of Port Adelaide at $7.50.
Geelong will be out to
avenge their Wizard Cup loss to St.Kilda when they
again take on the Saints on Saturday night in the
opening AFL round this weekend. Geelong are currently
priced at an attractive $2.70 when you consider that
they led St. Kilda at the last change in the Wizard
This weekend's matches
see the Lions favourites at $1.33 at home over the
Swans at $3.35 on Friday night and the Magpies at
$1.72 over Richmond $2.15 at the MCG on Saturday.
AFL - Brisbane Going
Brisbane opens its campaign
for an AFL premiership four-peat on Saturday night
against the Swans. The AFL season hasn't even started
but the injury lists are growing. Sydney's Tadhg Kennelly
has broken down at training and is in doubt for the
clash against the reigning premiers at the Gabba.
If he's ruled out he'll join Andrew Schauble, Matthew
Nicks, Rowan Warfe, Ben Fixter and Adam Schneider
on the sideline.
Brisbane is also likely
to field a depleted line-up with question marks over
Alastair Lynch, Chris Scott and Beau McDonald. Brisbane
captain Michael Voss, however, will definitely play
even though his knee continues to trouble him.
Meanwhile, St Kilda and
Geelong face off in a repeat of the Wizard Cup final.
The Saints won that battle but the last few weeks
have been tough with sexual assault claims leveled
against Stephen Milne and Leigh Montagna. Montagna
is rated only a 50/50 chance of playing this weekend.
Richmond and Collingwood
open the 2004 season, Hawthorn plays Melbourne, Fremantle
is at home to Carlton, Port Adelaide meets Essendon,
the Kangaroos tackle Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs
take on the West Coast.
NRL - Bulldogs Battle
Scandal Ahead of Roosters
They don't come any bigger
than tonights heavyweight NRL round 3 clash between
ladder leaders Sydney Roosters and the Bulldogs. The
betting indicates an even match with the Roosters
favourite at $1.85.
It has been another week
of turmoil for the Bulldogs in the lead up to their
blockbuster game against the Roosters. First there
was the resignation of club stalwart and CEO Steve
Mortimer. Then revelations Willie Mason tested positive
to cocaine in the off-season and was fined. And now
the Bulldogs have to regroup and face last year's
finalists the Sydney Roosters to kick off round three.
The Roosters have problems
of their own, however, with injury and suspension
taking away such experienced players as Ryan Cross
(who has been replaced by Chris Flannery), Craig Wing,
Jason Cayless and Michael Crocker. Matt Utai returns
to the Bulldogs side after serving a suspension for
a high tackle in a trial match.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys
are back after the bye to take on the Raiders. Canberra
will be boosted by the return from injury of Brad
Drew but suspended captain Simon Woolford will miss
the game. North Queensland lost their first round
In other games, the Sharks
host Manly, Newcastle travels to Parramatta, Wests-Tigers
take on Brisbane, Melbourne tackles St George-Illawarra
and the Warriors are at home to Penrith.
Soccer - All Eyes
on Arsenal-Man U Clash
Arsenal meets Manchester
United at home in what was going to be the match of
the season just a few weeks back. When Man U and the
Gunners were battling for top spot on the league ladder,
fans were salivating at the thought this match would
probably decide the premiership. Manchester United's
slide down the ladder has, however, tempered that
excitement but the match is still the game of the
Arsenal is coming off
a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the quarter finals of the
Champions League and is also playing for history having
equaled the record for most unbeaten games in a row.
Chelsea has more of a chance than Man U to overthrow
Arsenal and will be expected to beat Wolves. Speculation
is continuing about the future of manager Claudio
Ranieri but the side should be encouraged by its Champions
Other fixtures see Leeds
travel to Birmingham, Blackburn meets Portsmouth,
Charlton host Aston Villa, Everton plays Middlesbrough,
Manchester City tackles Fulham, Southampton and Tottenham
face-off, Bolton battles Newcastle and Leicester hosts
NBL - Kings Show Early
The Kings have taken
the early lead in the best-of-five grand final series
against the Razorbacks. Sydney is one step closer
to back-to-back NBL championships after a resounding
win in the first game at the Sydney Entertainment
Centre. While both teams were clearly rusty, the Kings
showed their class and if West Sydney doesn't improve
quickly, their cross-town rivals will sweep the series.
CJ Bruton and Chris Carrawell
led the way for the Kings in the first game and they're
the players the Razorbacks will need to shut down
in game two on Friday night. Sydney will be looking
to repeat its massive defensive effort when the series
moves to the State Sports Centre after having managed
to all but shut down semi-final star John Rillie and
captain Sam Mackinnon on Wednesday night.
West Sydney coach Gordie
McLeod has nominated rebounding as just one of the
areas his side needs to improve on before game two.
McLeod has also urged his team to believe in itself
again and get back to playing like champions.
Monday March 29th
Rugby League - Newcastle's
Newcastle is staring
down the barrel at a season without inspirational
leader Andrew Johns. The man many call the best rugby
league player in the world will miss the rest of the
2004 NRL season. Andrew Johns suffered an injury to
his anterior cruciate ligament in the loss to the
Eels as did fullback David Seage. Both are likely
to need surgery. The start of the season hasn't been
kind to Newcastle with Robbie O'Davis, Steve Simpson,
Mark Hughes and Clint Newton also out with injuries.
The Knights take on St George-Illawarra this weekend.
Meantime the Warriors
will again be searching for that first win when they
take on Manly at Brookvale. The grand finalists two
years ago remain on the bottom of the table after
being thrashed by Penrith. There is also talk coach
Daniel Anderson is losing control over his team. New
Zealand's Ali Lauitiiti will probably return to the
side for the Manly match after missing last week's
game with a head injury.
The Sea Eagles, however,
have judiciary troubles with second-rower Anthony
Watmough placed on report for a high tackle.
AFL - 2004 Season
The first round of the
2004 AFL season will be remembered for only two close
matches. Defending champions Brisbane beat Sydney
by just two points while the West Coast Eagles edged
past the Western Bulldogs in a high-scoring match.
The results of the other
games involved words like flogging and annihilation.
Last year's finalists Collingwood were thrashed by
Richmond while usual front runners Essendon went down
by 96 points to Port Adelaide. Bombers coach Kevin
Sheedy said his side was soft and slow and he couldn't
blame the result on missing players like Dustin Fletcher,
Dean Solomon and Sean Wellman. Essendon meets St Kilda
next week who are coming off a massive win over Geelong.
Another coach furious
at his side's performance was Adelaide mentor Gary
Ayres. The Crows lost by another huge margin to the
Kangaroos and will take on Brisbane next weekend.
The Lions are keeping tight lipped on how Michael
Voss' knee pulled up after the win over Sydney but
will be without Luke Power who has strained his knee.
Rugby Union - Tahs
v Blues In Desperation Match
The Waratahs four-week
road trip has turned into even more of a disaster.
New South Wales has slipped to fourth place on the
Super 12 ladders after another loss, this time to
the Chiefs. The Waratahs have now lost three in a
row and this weekend are facing the Blues in Auckland.
The defending champions have only tasted victory once
this season and need a win to stay in the race for
a semi final position.
New Zealand star Carlos
Spencer is expected to be named in the side even though
he's suffering a broken jaw as is key winger Joe Rokocoko
who has been troubled with shoulder problems. New
South Wales, however, will have to replace centre
Ben Jacobs who has hurt his ankle. The frontrunners
for his position include Nathan Grey, Matt Burke,
Morgan Turinui or Milton Thaiday.
Meantime, the Brumbies
have retained top spot after disposing of Queensland
in Canberra. The Stormers are in second following
victory over the third-placed Bulls.
Basketball - Pigs
Peg One Back
The West Sydney Razorbacks
have shown the Kings they won't be dominated in the
best-of-five grand final series. The Pigs have leveled
the grand final series with a good victory over the
Kings at their home court. Now the series moves back
to the Sydney Entertainment Centre for the third game
on Wednesday night.
In a boost for West Sydney,
Australian forward Simon Dwight has been cleared of
a leg fracture and should be right for the crucial
game. Dwight suffered a strained ligament below the
knee during game two but team management is confident
he will return to the court for the rest of the finals
West Sydney improved
its defensive and rebounding effort in the second
game and will need to match that intensity if it's
to take the upper hand on a hostile court on Wednesday.
The Kings have no injury concerns and, if Dwight returns
for the Pigs, West Sydney should also be at full strength.
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