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League - Tough Week Ahead for Cowboys
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.
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
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.
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
Union - Tri Nations in Sydney
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.
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.
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.
- Achilles Injury Rules Out Campbell
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
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.
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
League - Dragons Desperate to Show Finals Credentials
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.
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.
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 other matches Penrith hosts Manly, the Warriors
meet Brisbane, the Wests Tigers take on Souths, the
Bulldogs play the Cowboys and the Roosters tackle
- Essendon Hopes for Hird
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.
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.
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.
Union - Tri Nations on the Line
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
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
- 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
League - Bulldogs on Top
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.
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
- Brisbane Losing Streak
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Olympics - Aussie Swimmers Go for Gold
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
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
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.
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
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.
- Essendon Eyes the Eight
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.
- Premiership Starts Saturday!
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.
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.
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.
League - Roosters Impressive but Bulldogs Still on
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
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
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- Aussie Softballers in Final
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
One - Schumacher Returns to the Scene of First Win
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.
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
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