Sports round up archive

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Thursday April 1st

Rugby League - Roosters Looking for Revenge

The Roosters, Sportsbets favourite at $1.67 will be out for some sort of revenge on Friday night when they take on the Panthers ($2.10) at home in a re-match of last year's grand final.

The Roosters look unstoppable so far this season having not lost a game but the defending champions have had some gritty wins to be second on the ladder. For the Roosters, Ryan Cross remains in doubt with a leg injury but Michael Crocker will return to the bench after suspension. The Panthers have Ryan Girdler back for the first time this year after his recovery from respiratory illness.

Meantime Sportsbet has Newcastle at $2.75 while they prepare for the first of many games this season without injured captain Andrew Johns. Ben Kennedy will skipper the side in the match against St George-Illawarra (currently at $1.45) at WIN Stadium while Kurt Gidley stands in for Johns in a playing capacity.

There remains a question mark over the fitness of Robbie O'Davis while the Dragons welcome back Mark Gasnier.

Other games this weekend: Canberra are favourites at $1.47 and play hosts to Parramatta ($2.65), North Queensland ($1.47) takes on Wests Tigers ($2.65), the Rabbitohs ($2.75) play the favoured Sharks ($1.45), the Storm ($2.55) travel to Brisbane ($1.50) and the Sea Eagles ($2.50) tackles the favoured Warriors ($1.50).

Basketball - Pigs So Close

The West Sydney Razorbacks have the edge heading into the fourth game of the NBL grand final series against the Kings. Game four of the best-of-five series will have to be pretty special if it's to beat the intensity and excitement of game three which saw the Pigs come away with victory at the Entertainment Centre in overtime.

West Sydney is now only one game away from its first NBL championship and that match will be at the State Sports Centre where the home team has never lost in the finals. Shooting from the field is one thing the Sydney Kings will have to improve on for Sunday if they're to force the series to a fifth and deciding match. Both teams should have all their players to choose from for the tussle. West Sydney's Simon Dwight managed to play in the third game despite suffering ligament damage in his knee last Friday and will be expected to suit up for the fourth match. If the Kings win on Sunday, the final game will be at the Entertainment Centre on Tuesday.

Soccer - Power Tipped To Get the Glory

The 2004 National Soccer League season is winding down with Parramatta Power taking on Perth Glory ($2.35) in the grand final in Sydney this weekend. It is fitting that Parramatta and Perth are fighting it out for the NSL crown as both have been the dominant teams all season. The game will be played in Parramatta and Power coach Nick Theodorakopoulous is hoping Sydney soccer fans will come to the match and provide the home-ground advantage his players need to get them over the line.

Parramatta at $1.55, is favoured to win the match after beating Perth, currently at $2.35, in the semi-finals but the defending champions showed by thrashing Adelaide last week, they can't be underestimated.

Striker Bobby Despotovski led the way in that victory and will need another stellar effort on Sunday to help his team to further glory. A win will be even more special for Despotovski who will retire from the game after the final. But perhaps a win for Parramatta will mean the most of all as the club won't be a part of the new eight-team league for 2005.

Monday April 5th

Rugby League - Rabbitohs on a Winning Streak

After four rounds South Sydney finds itself in the unusual position of fourth place. Following their round one loss, everyone expected the Rabbitohs to continue their woeful form but South Sydney has proved otherwise. Despite losing star recruit Terry Hill early in the season the Bunnies have picked themselves up and have now won two matches from three. With no obvious injuries after the Cronulla game South Sydney could post another victory this weekend, away against the wildly unpredictable Parramatta. The Eels are unlikely to have Ronald Prince after he suffered a nasty knee injury in the loss to Canberra.

Another team consistently inconsistent is the Dragons and they take on the improving Wests Tigers this weekend. After being thrashed by the Storm it was St George-Illawarra doing the walloping against Newcastle with a stellar defensive and offensive effort in Wollongong. The Tigers will be without Benji Marshall for the game after hurting his shoulder. Pat Richards and Michael Buettner also remain on the sideline with injuries.

Rugby Union - Injury Worries for ACT, Reds

The Brumbies have pulled clear of the pack at the top of the Super 12 ladder. They may have lost to the second-placed Crusaders last weekend but the ACT is firming as the team to beat in this year's Super 12 competition. The Brumbies take on the Highlanders next at Canberra Stadium but could be without veteran David Giffin who hurt his back in the loss to the Crusaders. X-rays will determine the extent of the injury with Giffin to be replaced by Radike Samo if bad news is delivered.

Also plagued by injury problems is Queensland. Nathan Sharpe and Tim Walsh are in doubt for the match against the Stormers but Elton Flatley could return to play his 100th game for the Reds despite the ruptured tendon in his right thumb.

Meantime, New South Wales has now slipped to equal sixth on the ladder after losing their fourth game in a row. The Waratahs have the bye this weekend and will have to produce something special when they return to be in contention for the semi-finals.

AFL - Victory Eluding Cats

Geelong was so promising in the pre-season but things aren't looking so good after two bad losses. The Cats admittedly don't have eight of their best players on the field at the moment but had promised depth and a complement of young players to make up for having the more experienced players on the sidelines. It appears to have been an empty promise with Geelong hammered twice in as many weeks and showing no signs of improvement. Adding to the team's woes, Brent Maloney is on report for striking. The Cats will now face the Swans in Sydney. The home side has injury problems of its own with Michael O'Loughlin again damaging his hamstring in the win over Fremantle.

Meantime, Essendon has found itself at the bottom of the ladder with Geelong after going down to frontrunners St Kilda. The Bombers take on West Coast, possibly without Mark Johnson and Mark McVeigh who have both aggravated hamstring injuries while the aggressive on-field actions of several players including James Hird will more than likely face review.

Basketball - Kings Show Class

The 2004 NBL grand final series is going down to the wire with game five to be played on Tuesday. Many thought the series was all but won after the Razorbacks took out game three and given their flawless finals performance at home. The Kings, however, showed their class winning at the State Sports Centre and the grand final series will now be decided by a fifth game on Tuesday at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Both teams have stepped up the pressure defensively and this area will again be the key for the decider. The Kings only concern is the fitness of CJ Bruton who had to leave the court early in game four after suffering an injury but he will be likely to play through the pain barrier on Tuesday. Kings coach Brian Goorjian is predicting a crowd of 10,000 but no matter how many people watch from the stands, the Kings will go into the match tipped to win their second NBL championship in a row after one of the most exciting grand final series in years.

Thursday April 8th

AFL - Easter Thursday Blockbuster at the Gabba
The grand final replay between Collingwood and Brisbane kicks off the AFL action over the Easter holiday. Collingwood's narrow win over the Bulldogs last week has done little to sway their punters lack of confidence. The Magpies have already drifted from $4.00 out to $4.25 in their match of the round against Brisbane this Thursday night while the Lions have received solid support at $1.25 and $1.22. Brisbane will be tipped by many to overcome the Magpies at the Gabba but Lions coach Leigh Matthews is predicting a tough contest. Brisbane welcomes back Alastair Lynch, Jonathan Brown and Luke Power while Rhyce Shaw returns for Collingwood after being dropped in round two. Brisbane has yet to lose a game while Collingwood has tasted victory and defeat.

For Carlton, it has been a tough week, sacking Laurence Angwin after he tested positive to a drug in an in-house test. Angwin's friend and teammate Karl Norman has also been dropped for the weekend's match against the Kangaroos and fined $5,000 for the same offence. Carlton has had a win and a loss so far this season while the Roos share top spot on the table after two victories.

In other matches, Essendon takes on West Coast, Sydney is at home to Geelong, Port Adelaide hosts Hawthorn, the Bulldogs meet Melbourne, Adelaide is away to Fremantle and St Kilda plays Richmond.

NRL Vagana In, Bird Out
It has been a bitter-sweet week for Cronulla with one player rejoining the team and another sent to the sidelines for a long spell. After missing the first four matches of the season, prize Sharks recruit Nigel Vagana will finally make his debut for the club against the Cowboys at Toyota Park. Vagana has fully recovered from off-season shoulder surgery and his inclusion in the team is expected to give the Sharks a much-needed boost. One player who won't be taking part in the match is five-eighth Greg Bird. He has been suspended for ten games by the NRL judiciary after kneeing the head of Rabbitoh Shane Marteene last weekend.

The Roosters are $1.67 against the Broncos this Friday night, looking to bounce back after suffering their first defeat at the hands of Penrith last week. Two suspensions on top of a growing injury list will test their depth so it's no surprise to see steady support for the Broncos at $2.20.

Penrith has another reason to strive for back-to-back premierships: the imminent retirement of Ryan Girdler. The 31 year old has decided to retire at the end of the season along with Martin Lang and Panthers coach John Lang says his team will try to send them off in style. Penrith takes on the Storm while it's the Roosters v Brisbane, Newcastle is away to the Warriors, the Tigers take on the Dragons, the Bulldogs meet Manly and Parramatta is at home to South Sydney.

Rugby Union - Brumbies Need Focus
Can the Brumbies put the drama of the past week behind them when they meet the Highlanders at home? The Brumbies might be sitting at the top of the Super 12 ladder but that hasn't stopped the ACT Rugby Union from taking the unusual step of telling coach David Nucifora his contract won't be renewed at the end of the season. Player unhappiness is believed to be behind the move which has deeply distressed Nucifora. The team, and Nucifora, now has to regroup for the task ahead of them: the Highlanders at Canberra Stadium.

Meantime the Stormers are in Australia this weekend to take on the Reds on Saturday. The South African side is looking good for a semi-final berth and should beat Queensland but says it's wary of the embattled home side. The Reds still haven't given up hope Tim Walsh and Elton Flatley will take to the field despite their injuries.

Other matches see the Blues play the Bulls, the Sharks host the Crusaders and it's the Cats v the Chiefs.

Soccer - Arsenal under Pressure
Arsenal is now in the unusual position of needing to win this weekend to help secure at least one trophy this season. The Gunners had looked like taking out the Champions League, FA Cup and English Premiership but now only the latter is up for grabs after losses to Chelsea and Manchester United. Arsenal takes on Liverpool and Newcastle this weekend and the club has admitted the pressure is on now it's just four points clear of Chelsea on the Premiership ladder. Both Thierry Henry and Fredrik Ljungberg are in doubt for the games with Henry suffering a hamstring injury and Ljungberg's hand giving him trouble.

Meantime, the Blues play Middlesbrough away with the knowledge a win will intensify the race for the Premiership.

Other fixtures: Everton meets Tottenham, Birmingham tackles Manchester United, Blackburn plays Leeds, Bolton hosts Aston Villa, Charlton takes on Portsmouth, Leicester is up against Fulham and Wolves are at home to Manchester City.

Monday April 12th

Rugby League - Brisbane Back to Best

After some lean seasons, 2004 is looking like Brisbane's year with the side posting four wins from five matches. Brisbane is beginning to perform like the Broncos of old, putting together some impressive wins including the most recent victory over the Sydney Roosters. In that match, Barry Berrigan showed why he deserves his place in the team and will be a player other teams will watch carefully from now on. Brisbane takes on the Cowboys next with Stuart Kelly expected to be back in the side for the all-Queensland encounter after recovering from a sternum injury.

Another team fighting back is Newcastle with the away victory over the Warriors showing they can win without Andrew Johns. Halfback Kurt Gidley stepped up for the match, scoring two tries and two goals to give Newcastle fans some hope the 2004 season might be a good one even with Johns sitting on the sidelines. The Knights appear to be in good shape leading up to the clash against the Roosters with all the players getting through the New Zealand game and Matt Parsons to return from injury.

Soccer - New Goal for Chelsea

Chelsea is now playing for second in the English Premier League after a disappointing result against Middlesbrough. Chelsea needed to beat Boro if it had any chance of winning the league but only managed a nil all draw. The Blues are now well behind Arsenal and are resigned to the fact they've missed their chance for Premiership glory. Claudio Ranieri said it's disappointing but it now means they can focus on the Champions League although keeping Manchester United out of second place continues to be a motivation. If Chelsea is going to do that, a win over Aston Villa on Monday will be vital and the team will have to do it without Claude Makelele who has injured his knee.

Meanwhile, Leeds takes on Everton at home with renewed hope it can avoid relegation. The embattled team will be desperate for the momentum from the victory over Blackburn to spill over to help them to another win and lift them above the bottom three.

Other games coming up see Liverpool take on Charlton, Middlesbrough plays Southampton, Portsmouth hosts Birmingham, Tottenham meets Manchester City, Wolves play Bolton, Fulham tackles Blackburn and Manchester United is against Leicester.

Rugby Union - Victory More Important than Ever in Super 12

Things are getting serious in the Super 12 with only four rounds to go. Many thought the drama at the Brumbies would have an adverse effect on the team. It didn't and now the ACT side is all but assured a spot in the semi-finals after a searing win over the Highlanders. The Brumbies have the bye this weekend ahead of a blockbuster match against the Waratahs in Sydney - a game New South Wales must win especially if it can't beat the Hurricanes at home this Saturday. That horror four weeks away coupled with the bye last weekend has left the Tahs in equal seventh position and now battling for survival. They have to win at least three of their last four matches and hope other results go their way to have any chance of semi-final berth. The Blues are in a similar position although, unlike the Waratahs, Auckland had a shocking start to the season but has now found form. The next four games for Auckland have been made even tougher with a number of players suffering injuries including Steve Devine and Kevin Mealamu.


An eight goal haul from Matthew Lloyd saw the Bombers cling on to a six point win over West Coast in the match of the year so far. Essendon were easily the best backed team in Round 4 of the AFL. Supporters happily took the $2.30 while Lloyd was suspended then smashed the $2.00 into $1.80 after the spearhead was reinstated.

Super 12

Punters have erred by reading too much into the Brumbies coach sacking saga. The Highlanders were heavily backed at the line from +16.5 into +14.5 but left their money in the bag after going down by 32 points.

Thursday April 15th

Rugby League - Vagana Out Again

Cronulla won't have prize recruit Nigel Vagana for the crucial home match against Canberra. It might only be round six but the Sharks are starting to slide down the slippery slope to a very poor NRL season already. In another blow, centre Nigel Vagana (who had only just recovered from injury) has been suspended for one match after failing to have a grade two careless high tackle charge downgraded at the judiciary. Canberra goes into the match a rested side after having the bye over Easter.

Meantime, the Roosters will be looking to break an unfamiliar losing streak when they travel north to take on the Knights in the first game of the season in Newcastle. While a number of first grade players are yet to return to the line-up because of injury, the Roosters have Adrian Morley back after his suspension. Heath L'Strange starts at hooker and Ned Catic has also been named in the side although remains in doubt after being concussed last weekend.

In other matches the Bulldogs take on the Warriors in Wellington, North Queensland hosts Brisbane, Melbourne plays South Sydney, the Dragons take on Penrith and Manly tackles Parramatta.

AFL - Saints Suspended for Un-Saintly Behaviour

The tribunal has been unkind to St Kilda this week ahead of the match against Adelaide. Saint Kilda, victorious in all three games this season, faces Adelaide at AAMI Stadium this weekend but without Aaron Hamill and Stephen Baker who have been suspended for one and four matches respectively. Baker's ban for an ugly incident involving Richmond's Kane Johnson won't be appealed but the Saints could contest Hamill's one match suspension for tripping. Jason Blake will also miss the match as he recovers from a nasty back injury.

Adelaide isn't without its suspension headaches with Rhett Biglands to miss four games for striking. The Crows easily beat the Saints in their last encounter but haven't been able to win a game so far this season so St Kilda will be expected to win.

Meantime Carlton takes on Essendon in the clash of the glamour clubs who have had a not-so glamorous start to the season. Both sides have won just the one game. Other matches see Melbourne playing Port Adelaide, West Coast Eagles meet Brisbane, Geelong tackles Richmond, the Kangaroos meet the Swans in Canberra, Collingwood takes on Fremantle and Hawthorn battles the Western Bulldogs.

Soccer - Vital Match for Arsenal and Leeds

Arsenal is eyeing the Premiership silverware and will be a step closer to lifting it with victory on Friday. Arsenal is now seven points clear of Chelsea on the Premiership ladder with just six games to play. The side's next match is against Leeds - a team also needing a win but for a different reason. Continuing to hold down the third last spot on the ladder, Leeds is still in grave danger of relegation. The Gunners team is unlikely to contain Ashley Cole and Freddie Ljungberg as both are injured but Ray Parlour could return after a two month lay-off with knee problems.

Chelsea, currently in second place, takes on Everton with questions still surrounding the future of coach Claudio Ranieri. The Italian has held lengthy talks with the club over the past week but it's still not known if he will remain at Stamford Bridge beyond this season.

Also playing this weekend: Portsmouth and Manchester United, Blackburn and Leicester, Bolton and Tottenham, Charlton and Birmingham, Liverpool and Fulham, Manchester City and Southampton, Wolves and Middlesbrough and Aston Villa and Newcastle.

Monday April 19th


St. Kilda proved themselves the real deal defeating Adelaide at Football Park on Saturday night. The Saints are now second pick at $5.00 for the flag behind Brisbane at $2.90. Port Adelaide despite copping a flogging at the hands of underdogs Melbourne, remain third pick at $5.50. Serious questions are sure to be asked this week in the Richmond and Hawthorn camps. Both teams have started the season poorly after promising much more. Also under the pump are Collingwood who must regroup for the Anzac day clash with Essendon. They face a huge task to overcome the bombers with injuries to big guns Buckley and Tarrant.

Rugby League - Roosters Gain Momentum Ahead of Dragons Match

The Roosters are back in the winner's circle but face a tough assignment for round seven. Before the game against Newcastle, the Sydney Roosters were in the unfamiliar situation of having lost two games in a row. Last year's finalists have bounced back with a confidence-boosting win over the Knights but this weekend face the in-form St George-Illawarra. The Dragons thrashed the Panthers last weekend leading many to believe the boys in red and white could be serious premiership contenders this year. On the flipside, however, captain Trent Barrett has suffered a hamstring injury and could miss the game against the Roosters. Team-mate Ben Hornby could also be in trouble with the judiciary after being reported for a high tackle. The injury situation is easing for the Roosters with all players appearing to get through the Newcastle game and others on the sidelines looking to return in the near future.

Things aren't so positive for South Sydney. After the Rabbitohs' good start, Adam MacDougall is now out for the season with an Achilles tendon injury suffered in the massive loss to Melbourne while Bryan Fletcher could also miss their next game against the Bulldogs with foot problems.

AFL - Swans Flying

Sydney is stamping its authority on the 2004 AFL season, joining a swag of teams in second place. The Swans were the surprise package last year and this year they're showing it wasn't a fluke now high on the ladder with three wins and a loss. Those victories include last weekend's magnificent effort over the Kangaroos in Canberra thanks to the resurgence of Jason Saddington and the consistently good Barry Hall and Brownlow medalist Adam Goodes. The only concern for Sydney ahead of this weekend's match against Melbourne at Telstra Stadium is Tadgh Kennelly's concussion.

Meanwhile, two teams at the other end of the equation, Richmond and Adelaide, open round five at the MCG on Friday night. The Crows have surprised everyone and themselves by failing to win a game after four rounds while Richmond has only had the one win forcing the club to publicly back coach Danny Frawley, especially following the big loss to Geelong. Adelaide is likely to recall Ian Perrie with Nathan Bassett expected to miss the game because of ankle problems.

Rugby Union - Waratahs Ready for the Brumbies

New South Wales remains well and truly in contention for the Super 12 semi-finals. After four losses in a row, the Waratahs needed to beat the Hurricanes at home as much for morale as for their chances of a semi-final berth. In the end the victory was relatively easy and New South Wales is now just three points out of the top four with three games to go. Posting a win over their next opponent, however, won't be easy as the Waratahs go head-to-head with tournament favourites the Brumbies. The ACT side has had the wood on New South Wales in recent years with more bad blood simmering between the two teams following the defection to Sydney of Justin Harrison and Dan Vickerman. Defence is one area the Waratahs will need to improve on if they're going to beat the Brumbies while there's also the threat of the unknown. Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie has said he won't be surprised if the Brumbies produce something different given they've had two weeks to prepare for the match.

Soccer - Chelsea Focus on Champions League

It's crunch-time for Chelsea, taking on Monaco in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League. After bowing out of the race for the FA Cup and the Premiership, the UEFA Champions League is the one piece of silverware Chelsea can get its hands on. Many believe the Blues will do it this year now Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal are all out of contention. Chelsea takes on Monaco away in the first leg of the semi finals while Deportivo meets Porto in the other semi. The Blues are coming off a 0-0 result against Everton meaning the side hasn't had a victory in three games over the past week but was missing a number of players such as John Terry, Damien Duff and Claude Makele. All, however, are expected to travel to Monaco for Tuesday's match which Chelsea goes into as favourites.

The other semi-final isn't as clear cut but Deportivo is seen as having the slight edge over Porto. The Spanish side is in the final four after producing an amazing 4-0 victory over title holders AC Milan to advance and will be hard to beat if it puts in a similar performance this Wednesday.

Thursday 29th April

Rugby League - Bulldogs Battle Broncos

The Bulldogs take on Brisbane in a top of the table clash. The Bulldogs have, for once this year, had a good week. Police have announced none of the club's players will be charged over gang rape allegations, morale is high and everyone is promising to teach the Broncos a lesson or two about rugby league. The task, however, won't be simple with Brisbane only two points behind Canterbury on the NRL ladder. The Broncos will be without experienced forward Brad Myers as he has a neck injury and will miss up to a month of football while the Bulldogs are likely to be at full strength.

Meantime, the battle for Sydney's south is on with the Dragons taking on the Sharks at Toyota Park. St George-Illawarra prop Luke Bailey and skipper Trent Barrett will definitely play while Jason Ryles is also a possible starter after recovering from a serious shoulder injury. The Sharks, searching for their third win in a row, have named an unchanged line-up.

In other matches, Penrith takes on the Tigers, Newcastle hosts the Rabbitohs, Parramatta plays North Queensland, the Warriors must win against the Storm and the Roosters meet Canberra.

AFL - Saints Keen to Prove Themselves against Brisbane

For the last three years, Brisbane been the team to beat in the AFL but this season there is one side doing better. The Lions are still flying high on the field and on the ladder in 2004 but the form side of this year's competition is St Kilda. The Saints, Wizard Cup winners in the pre-season, have yet to lose a match after five rounds and will now meet Brisbane at Telstra Dome on Saturday. The side will be boosted by the return to the backline of Luke Penny and possibly Max Hudghton after a two month absence. Brisbane will miss Ash McGrath and Dylan McLaren through injuries suffered last weekend.

While it's top-of-the-table in Melbourne, the battle of the west is happening on the other side of the country with Fremantle meeting the West Coast Eagles at Subiaco. The Dockers, who have long lived in the shadow of the Eagles, have had a stronger start to the season sitting in fourth position with West Coast in tenth spot.

Also playing this weekend, Richmond and Hawthorn, Kangaroos and the Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Sydney, Geelong and Adelaide, Melbourne and Carlton, Port Adelaide and Collingwood.

Rugby Union - Semi-Finals Spots On the Line

New South Wales is looking for another win to sure up a position in the Super 12 semis. Another sell-out crowd is expected as Aussie Stadium on Saturday afternoon when the Waratahs take on the Highlanders. The New Zealand side needs a win to have any chance of making the semis while victory for New South Wales will probably see a re-entry into the top four but a loss won't be the end of the road. It will, however, mean the side will have to beat the Reds at Ballymore the following weekend while relying on other results. The Waratahs don't have any noticeable injury concerns but the Highlanders could miss Seilala Mapusua and Ryan Nicholas through injury.

The Chiefs will also need to win this weekend if they're to make the playoffs for the first time. The team is coming off a solid victory ahead of Friday's match against the Bulls, again in Hamilton. The Chiefs are currently in fourth spot on the ladder.

Other fixtures this weekend see the Blues against the Sharks in South Africa, the Cats are at home to the Reds, the Crusaders meet the Stormers and the Brumbies host the Hurricanes.

Soccer - Arsenal Looking Ahead

Winning the Premiership isn't enough for Arsenal with the side setting a new goal. Arsenal has well and truly recoverd from last year's Premiership disappointment winning the trophy this season. The achievement, however, isn't enough with the Gunners now aiming to go through this year's league undefeated. On paper, the task looks relatively easy with Arsenal facing the likes of Portsmouth, Fulham, Leicester City and, this weekend, Birmingham. Motivation will be the key but Arsenal star Patrick Vieira has indicated that won't be a problem, believing team spirit has got the Gunners this far.


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