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Monday August 2nd

Rugby League - Tough Week Ahead for Cowboys

Newcastle, North Queensland and the Wests Tigers are still in the race for the finals. Five weeks remain until the end of the regular season but the three teams remain in the hunt for playoff positions after all notched up important wins on the weekend.

The Cowboys are the highest placed of the sides in sixth position while Newcastle is holding down ninth and the Tigers 10th. North Queensland, however, has the toughest assignment in round 22 with a Sunday game against the Bulldogs who remain in second place on the ladder and locked in a tussle with the Roosters for the minor premiership. Canterbury's top players are not only injury-free for the march to the finals but others such as Sonny-Bill Williams have returned to full fitness.

Meantime the Tigers will be expected to post their second win in a row next weekend when they meet the Rabbitohs. The Tigers could welcome back Mark O'Neill for the match after his bout of concussion while South Sydney will be fighting to avoid the wooden spoon after a loss to Newcastle. The Knights take on Canberra after the Raiders went down to Manly.

AFL - Demons on Top

Melbourne has now claimed outright top spot on the AFL ladder after 18 rounds. Of the four teams battling it out for the minor premiership Melbourne is the only one to finish round 18 with victory. St Kilda faltered against Geelong, Sydney upset Brisbane while Essendon comprehensively beat Port Adelaide as Melbourne raced to the top of the ladder with 56 points following an unsurprising victory over Hawthorn. The weekend's results give the best news to Geelong. The Cats are now just a win from a spot in the top four after a scintillating victory over the Saints - their 11th from 13 matches. The one sour note from the weekend for Geelong has been the jaw injury to Corey Enright which is expected to rule him out for the rest of the season. The Cats meet Richmond in round 19.

Meantime Port Adelaide will need to beat the Demons next weekend if it is to keep Geelong out of the top four. Port is likely to be somewhat shaken after the loss to Essendon but will need to regroup for the game against Melbourne with a double chance in the finals on the line.

Rugby Union - Tri Nations in Sydney

The Wallabies are still in the hunt for the Tri Nations crown but will need to back up last Saturday's win with victory over New Zealand. Australia's four point win over the Springboks has meant it's still a chance of threatening the All Blacks for Tri Nations glory. A bonus point victory to New Zealand next Saturday, however, will mean the Tri Nations title will belong to the Kiwis.

The Wallabies got through the game against South Africa without incident although Matt Giteau's role as goal kicker could be under threat after a disappointing performance with the boot. Hooker Brendan Cannon is back in contention for a position in the side after serving a two week suspension but could find himself warming the bench after Jeremy Paul returned to his best form against South Africa.

Illness has once again made its way into the All Blacks camp with Chris Jack and Andrew Mehrtens falling foul to a virus but both are expected to play against the Wallabies in Sydney. A calf problem, however, could keep Keith Robinson on the sidelines with Richie McCaw who will miss the rest of the Tri Nations series with a head injury.

Soccer - Achilles Injury Rules Out Campbell

The countdown to the start of the English Premier League season is on. Two of the best teams in the Premiership, Arsenal and Manchester United, will contest the Community Shield next Sunday. The Premier League starts the following weekend.

Arsenal will be without defender Sol Campbell for the match after he has injured his Achilles tendon. It is believed the injury was sustained during England's Euro 2004 campaign in Portugal but the extent of the problem has only just been discovered. Campbell is likely to be out for six weeks, missing not only the start of the Premiership but England's two opening World Cup qualifying matches in September.

Manchester United has been in the United States taking part in the Champions World tour. Meantime Australian midfielder Harry Kewell will not miss the start of the season according to his club Liverpool. There had been reports Kewell had re-injured his ankle in a pre-season match in the US but the club says Kewell is training as normal.

Thursday August 5th

Rugby League - Dragons Desperate to Show Finals Credentials

The pressure is on St George Illawarra when they take on Melbourne to open round 22. Friday night's game at WIN Stadium will be crucial for the Dragons if they want to sure-up a position in the finals series. St George Illawarra is in danger of falling out of the eight with a number of teams within two points.

Fifth-placed Melbourne will be without forward Danny Williams whose NRL career is all but over after being handed a record 18 week ban by the Judiciary for the round 19 knock-out punch on Tiger Mark O'Neill.

Two other teams fighting to make it past the regular season are the Knights and the Raiders and they face-off on Saturday at Energy Australia Stadium. Robbie O'Davis, who is still suffering from a fractured jaw, has again been included in a side but Mark Hughes and Daniel Abraham are likely to miss the game through injury. Canberra players Michael Hodgson (lung), Joel Monaghan (calf) and Michael Robertson (hamstring) are also in doubt.

In other matches Penrith hosts Manly, the Warriors meet Brisbane, the Wests Tigers take on Souths, the Bulldogs play the Cowboys and the Roosters tackle the Sharks.

AFL - Essendon Hopes for Hird

Essendon is hopeful of having captain James Hird in the team when the Bombers take on fierce rival Carlton. Broken ribs have kept Hird out of the Essendon line-up for the past three matches but Bombers coach Kevin Sheedy says he would be disappointed if Hird didn't play on Saturday against the Blues. Essendon is fighting to stay in contention for the finals and, sitting in eighth position on the ladder with four rounds to go, will need to beat Carlton.

One spot ahead of Essendon on the ladder is Sydney while the Kangaroos sit one spot behind and these two teams will meet on Saturday. The Swans are likely to have Nick Davis in the side after his recovery from an ankle injury but there are serious questions over the fitness of Adam Schneider and Paul Williams. The game will be the 250th first grade match for Kangaroo Glenn Archer but it will be missed by Mark Porter and Jess Sinclair who are both injured.

Meantime Fremantle takes on Collingwood, St Kilda meets Adelaide, the Bulldogs plays Hawthorn, Brisbane tackles West Coast, Richmond is up against Geelong and Port Adelaide takes on Melbourne.

Rugby Union - Tri Nations on the Line

Australia is sticking with its winning combination for the Tri Nations clash against New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday. The Wallabies have made just the one change to the side that beat South Africa last weekend for the second Bledisloe Cup match. Hooker Brendan Cannon, back from suspension, returns to the starting side, winning his place back from Jeremy Paul because of his dependability in the line-out. Matt Giteau is still goal kicker while Matthew Burke has been named on the bench for what could be his last test match in Australia. Burke is going to England next year to finish his career with Newcastle.

Carlos Spencer and Justin Marshall have retained their places in the New Zealand side despite both under performing in the series so far. All Blacks coach Graham Henry, however, has brought veteran Andrew Mehrtens onto the bench as back-up. In other changes Jono Gibbes is back into the starting side after injury, Ali Williams comes in for Simon Maling and Carl Hayman replaces Greg Somerville at tighthead prop. If New Zealand beats Australia at Telstra Stadium with a bonus point, the All Blacks will take the Tri Nations title.

Soccer - Real Offer for Vieira

Arsenal goes into the Community Shield match against Manchester United with a question mark hanging over the future of Patrick Vieira. The hottest gossip in the football world this week has been surrounding the playing future of Arsenal and French super star Patrick Vieira. There is speculation and unconfirmed reports Vieira is heading to Spain and glamour club Real Madrid. It is claimed the club has made a 51 million dollar offer for Vieira who is contracted to the Gunners until 2007. The 28 year old has missed Arsenal's pre-season matches with a thigh injury and, if the rumours are correct, would play no part in the club's defence of its English Premiership title with Real Madrid reportedly keen to have the Frenchman in the team in time for the Champions League preliminary round tie next week. Manchester United has defended its poor showing in pre season games in the United States claiming they will be a force this year in the Premiership and Champions League. The real test, however, will be Saturday's Community Shield match in Cardiff.

Monday August 9th

Rugby League - Bulldogs on Top

The Bulldogs have wrestled the tag of minor premiership favourites from the Roosters. Canterbury's win over North Queensland on the weekend has pushed its winning streak to 9 games in a row and has put the Bulldogs to top spot on the ladder following the Roosters' loss to Cronulla. The Bulldogs take on Brisbane next weekend in what is sure to be one of the best matches for round 23. The team could be without Jamaal Lolesi who has suffered ankle ligament damage but Willie Mason is likely to return after a week's rest.

Brisbane is still sitting in third position on the ladder after beating the Warriors in round 22. The Broncos have lost David Stagg for the Bulldogs game and probably for the rest of the season after he has broken his leg. Veteran Paul Green is Stagg's likely replacement.

Meantime the Rabbitohs have returned to last place on the ladder after being thrashed by the Wests Tigers. The Sea Eagles and Warriors, however, are just one point ahead of South Sydney leaving the race for the wooden spoon wide open. The Bunnies play the Cowboys next weekend.

AFL - Brisbane Losing Streak

Brisbane's plans for an AFL Premiership four-peat have suffered a minor hiccup. The loss to the West Coast Eagles is Brisbane's second from as many matches leaving the Lions in fourth position on the ladder. The defeat was also Brisbane's first at the Gabba in 11 matches and has now put their chance of a home final in jeopardy. The Lions will meet Hawthorn at the MCG in round 20.

Brisbane's loss and Geelong's win over Richmond has further fuelled the Cats' hopes of a top four finish when the regular season winds up in three weeks time. The side takes on Fremantle at Skilled Stadium next weekend. The Dockers' poor form at home has continued with the team losing to Collingwood in round 19 but they remain just one position behind the Cats on the ladder.

Below Fremantle are the Kangaroos, Swans, Essendon and West Coast all on 40 points. The Bombers and Eagles have the best chance to get back into the top eight next weekend as the Roos will take on front-runners St Kilda and Sydney meets third placed Melbourne.

Rugby Union - Terrorists Not Affecting Tri Nations

The All Blacks have flown to South Africa despite terrorist threats being made against the Tri Nations game with the Springboks on Saturday. New Zealand had considered returning home instead of heading to South Africa after reports Al Qaeda had been planning to target the game against the Springboks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Security experts have spoken with the players and team officials and, with the threat determined to be low risk, the decision was made to go ahead with the original plan and fly to South Africa for the game. The Kiwis will continue to monitor the threat and say they will abort the tour if the risk becomes too high. The All Blacks are confident of being at full strength for the crucial match although Rico Gear and Aaron Mauger will travel to Johannesburg as cover in case injuries to Doug Howlett, Daniel Carter and Sam Tuitupou rule them out of the match.

The Tri Nations title is still up for grabs after Australia's win over New Zealand at the weekend and even South Africa is still in the hunt if it can beat the All Blacks on Saturday and the Wallabies the following week.

Formula One - Button Controversy Ahead of Budapest

There has been controversy ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix surrounding Williams' latest signing for next year. Jenson Button, who is third on the Drivers table and has propelled his team BAR-Honda to third on the Constructors ladder, has announced he will move to join Australian Mark Webber at Williams next year. The BAR team, however, isn't happy with the news and is threatening legal action claming Button is still under contract. The controversy may have an impact on Button's performance this Sunday at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher will be looking to further stake his claim on both the Drivers and Constructors titles this weekend with his 12th win of the season. Schumacher didn't make it to the podium at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso the winner and Schumacher finishing in eighth position. Mark Webber came sixth in that race - a finish he'll be looking to emulate in his Jaguar on Sunday.

Thursday August 12th

The day they thought would never come is finally here! Yes, the 2004 Olympic Games are about to start and yes they will be held in Athens. Australia will begin its campaign for Golden Glory in Greece on Saturday when our swimmers kick into action. The first medal will, hopefully, come in the men's 400 metres freestyle event which is being contested by Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett.

To another momentous day but for football fans, the new English Premier League season is also beginning this weekend. Arsenal starts its title defence against Everton while the match of the round sees Manchester United facing Chelsea.

Back at home a glimpse, perhaps, of what the NRL finals hold with Penrith taking on the Roosters and the Bulldogs tackling Brisbane in round 23.

In the AFL Essendon, the Swans, West Coast Eagles and Kangaroos will all be looking for wins in round 20 to ensure a top eight position when the regular season finishes in just a few weeks time.

Athens Olympics - Aussie Swimmers Go for Gold

After years of planning the Opening Ceremony for the 2004 Olympic Games will be held on Friday, Athens Time. Most sports will start Olympic competition after the Opening Ceremony on the 13th August and Australia has the chance to win its first gold medal on the first day of the Games in the pool. The men's 400 metres freestyle final will be contested on Saturday and is likely to feature Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett. Thorpe and Hackett will also line up in the 200 metres freestyle event on the following day against American Michael Phelps and Olympic title holder Pieter van den Hoogenband from the Netherlands.

Australia's Madam Butterfly, Petria Thomas, will also be swimming this weekend when she goes for gold in the women's 100 metres butterfly while Liesel Jones and Brooke Hanson are expected to take part in the women's 100 metres breaststroke final on Sunday with American Amanda Beard likely to be their most feared opponent.

The Australian men and women's hockey and basketball teams start their campaign over the weekend while Michael Diamond will be aiming for his third straight Olympic gold medal when the shooting gets underway.

Rugby League - Finals Glimpse

The top four teams will play each other this weekend in the NRL. After 22 rounds the Panthers remain in the top four but coach John Lang believes a win over the Roosters in a grand final rematch this weekend will help sure-up a home semi-final. Penrith says it has no chance of winning a second premiership in a row unless it can improve on its defensive efforts especially against the team it beat to claim the NRL title last year, the Roosters. The 2002 champions have slipped to second on the ladder after their shock loss last weekend to Cronulla and have been unable to beat the Panthers this season.

Meantime the Bulldogs will be looking to keep top spot on the ladder and post their tenth win in a row when they takes on the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday. Brisbane has also put together an impressive winning streak, this weekend going for seven victories in a row.

In other games the Sharks meet the Eels, North Queensland hosts the Rabbitohs, St George Illawarra takes on the Warriors, Canberra hosts the Storm and Manly meets Newcastle at home.

AFL - Essendon Eyes the Eight

Essendon has the chance to scrape back into the top eight this weekend with a win over Collingwood. The Bombers are in ninth on the ladder but are on the same number of points as the seventh placed Kangaroos and Sydney (8). With West Coast, however, also on 40 points a loss to the Pies could see the Bombers fall to 10th if other results don't go their way. Matthew Lloyd is a possible starter for Essendon despite suffering a shoulder injury in last weekend's loss to Carlton while Collingwood defender James Clement is in doubt with a fractured cheekbone.

The Swans have a tough weekend ahead of them on the field, physically and emotionally. The team has farewelled head trainer Wally Jackson during the week after his death during last round's home match against the Kangaroos. On Saturday Sydney takes on top four contenders the Demons at Telstra Dome. Melbourne is missing only the injured Travis Johnstone from the team thrashed by the Power last weekend.

In other games Geelong meets Fremantle, Hawthorn plays Brisbane, the Western Bulldogs tackle Port Adelaide, Adelaide takes on Richmond, the Kangaroos clash with St Kilda and the Eagles meet Carlton.

Soccer - Premiership Starts Saturday!

Arsenal kicks off its Premiership defence this weekend against Everton. When the Gunners take to the field to face Everton on Sunday, they'll no doubt be hoping for a repeat of last season when they went through without being defeated. There is still intense speculation Arsenal won't have French star Patrick Vieria in its ranks this season. Rumours have abounded over the past few weeks that the midfielder will move to Spanish side Real Madrid and it is now being reported the deal will be announced on Friday.

Manchester United will also start their Premiership campaign on Sunday in the match of the weekend against Chelsea. The Red Devils have had a successful week already defeating Dinamo Bucharest in the first leg of their final qualifying round tie for the Champions League. Chelsea will be looking to go one better this year under new manager Jose Mourinho.

In other games Tottenham takes on Liverpool, Aston Villa meets Southampton, Blackburn plays West Brom, Bolton tackles Charlton, Manchester City is up against Fulham, Norwich takes on Crystal Palace, Portsmouth clashes with Birmingham and Middlesbrough plays Newcastle.

Monday August 16th

Rugby League - Roosters Impressive but Bulldogs Still on Top

The Roosters have returned to top form but still aren't the top team in the National Rugby League. The Roosters exacted some form of revenge on the weekend against the team that beat them in the 2003 grand final. The decisive win over defending premiers Penrith, however, hasn't been enough to earn them top spot on the ladder with three rounds to go. That honour goes to the Bulldogs after their thrashing of the 3rd placed Broncos. The Roosters will play an out of form Canberra outfit next weekend while Canterbury is looking for its 11th straight win and to consolidate its position as competition leaders when it takes on the Storm in Melbourne.

Meantime Manly has taken another step to avoiding its first wooden spoon with a surprise win over finals hopefuls the Knights. The Sea Eagles will have to beat the Rabbitohs next weekend at North Sydney Oval if they are to avoid last spot on the ladder at the end of the regular season. South Sydney went down to North Queensland in round 23 to fall to that position and give the Cowboys further hope of making their first finals series.

AFL - Descending Demons

The Demons and Geelong have traded places on the AFL ladder after round 20. Geelong's win over Fremantle and Melbourne's loss to Sydney on the weekend have resulted in the Cats moving to fourth spot on the ladder and the Demon's going down to fifth with two rounds to go. Geelong will be hoping to further secure a top four position in round 21 when the Cats take on Adelaide while Melbourne has a tougher opponent in the sometimes-dangerous Carlton at Optus Oval. The Demons went into last weekend's game against the Swans having never lost two matches in a row and will have a number of players in doubt for the Carlton game such as Travis Johnstone and Matthew Whelan.

Meantime a ten goal haul from St Kilda's Fraser Gehrig against the Kangaroos has further fuelled his team's hopes of taking the minor premiership. The Saints are on top of the ladder ahead of, but on the same number of points as, Port Adelaide while their next round opponent, Brisbane, is in third position and four points adrift.

Rugby Union - Dual in Durban

Australia has the chance to claim the Tri Nations title if it can beat South Africa in Durban. New Zealand's loss to the Springboks last weekend means a win or draw next Saturday against South Africa is all the Wallabies need to take out the Tri Nations series. The task ahead, however, is enormous as Australia hasn't won in South Africa since 2000 and the winners of all the Tri Nations games this year have been the home teams. If the Springboks continue that trend with victory they will win the Tri Nations trophy. Australia isn't expected to make any changes to the side that beat the All Blacks in Sydney while South Africa is also unlikely to adjust its victorious side. The Wallabies will need to ensure their line-out is without fault as that is one of the areas where the Springboks showed their dominance over the All Blacks. The match will be played at Durban instead of the high altitude city of Johannesburg.

Olympics - Thorpe, Phelps Showdown

The race of the Olympic swimming meet will be contested on Monday when Ian Thorpe takes on Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps is to the United States what Ian Thorpe is to Australia and both will line-up alongside Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband and Australian Grant Hackett in the final of the men's 200 metres freestyle. Van den Hoogenband has qualified fastest for the final ahead of Thorpe and Phelps.

Australia has a number of golden opportunities ahead in the pool including Liesel Jones and Brooke Hanson in the women's 100 metres breaststroke; Petria Thomas in the 200 metres butterfly; world record holder Libby Lenton and Jodie Henry in the 100 metres freestyle as well as a host of relays.

Away from the pool Australia's beach volleyball men's and women's teams will be in action over the coming days with Olympic champions Natalie Cook and Kerrie Pottharst already posting wins with their new partners. On the hockey field, the Australian women's team has a long road ahead if it is to defend its Olympic title after losing to Germany. The Hockeyroos next take on South Africa while the men's team, surprisingly doing better after beating New Zealand, will play Argentina.

Monday August 23rd

Olympics - Aussie Softballers in Final

Australia's softballers have their shot at Olympic glory in the gold medal playoff. Australia is guaranteed silver in the softball but will be searching for gold when the team takes on the USA. The unbeaten Americans were victorious over Australia in the major semi-final leaving the Aussies the task of beating Japan to earn the right to contest the gold medal which they did in convincing fashion.

Meantime the Australian men's cycling team will be the favourite to win gold in the team pursuit final after setting a new World and Olympic record in the first round.

To athletics, Australian Jane Saville will be hoping to make up for the disappointment of disqualification in Sydney in the women's 20 kilometre walk in Athens. Also walking will be Australians Natalie Saville and Cheryl Webb.

The Americans and Jamaicans will be expected to dominate the final of the men's 400 metres sprint with each country having three competitors in the event.

Rugby League - Stormy Weather for Dogs

Melbourne has shown it is a Premiership contender with a win over the Bulldogs. Canterbury went into the match against the Storm on a 10 game winning streak but that streak is now over after Melbourne's surprising 10 point victory. The Storm is now in sixth position and a real chance of a top four finish while the Bulldogs have slipped to second on the ladder behind the Roosters. Melbourne takes on Cronulla in the penultimate round of the season while the Bulldogs meet the Knights and the Roosters take on the Warriors as they fight for the minor premiership.

Meantime the battle for a place in the top eight is continuing for the Cowboys, Wests Tigers and the Sharks. Cronulla will have the chance to move into finals contention particularly if it can beat the in form Storm and the Tigers go down to the Cowboys. North Queensland, gunning for its first finals berth, could be without five eighth David Myles who has been put on report. The Eels could also make it past the regular season but the task ahead is a tough one - Penrith in round 25 and the Roosters the next weekend.

AFL - Finals Countdown

The AFL minor premiership will be decided this weekend with three teams in the running to take the title. Brisbane's annihilation of St Kilda in round 21 has pushed the Lions back into minor premiership contention. Brisbane is now in second spot on the ladder with the Saints in third however Port Adelaide is in prime position to take the minor premiership again. The Power is on top spot and four points clear of both Brisbane and St Kilda after beating Collingwood and only needs a win over arch rivals Adelaide to claim top spot on the ladder after the regular season.

One team whose finals future is anything but certain is Essendon. The Bombers' loss to Sydney has meant they have fallen out of the eight with just one round to go. Essendon will have to beat the Kangaroos next weekend and hope other results go its way if it is going to be there at finals time. Bomber Adam McPhee will more than likely miss the Roos match after suffering a hamstring injury against Sydney.

Formula One - Schumacher Returns to the Scene of First Win

The Formula One season is winding down but not before a visit to Belgium. The Spa Circuit where the Belgian Grand Prix is being held is considered by many to be one of the toughest tracks in the world. It won't, however, be expected to trouble Ferrari's Michael Schumacher who has been virtually unstoppable this season. Schumacher can take his seventh world driver's title with victory on Sunday. Belgium holds special significance for the German as he won his first Grand Prix there in 1993. Schumacher was also victorious the last time a Formula One Grand Prix was held in Belgium in 2002.

Meantime Antonio Pizzonia will again stand in for the injured Ralf Schumacher at Williams at the next Grand Prix. It will be the Brazilians first Belgian Grand Prix but he will be confident of gaining a good result after having much success on the Spa Circuit in his younger days. Schumacher is still recovering from injuries suffered in a sickening crash in the US Grand Prix and isn't expected back racing until at least September.


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