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Sydney Swans appear at the SCG for the first time in 2015 for the AFL‘s Sydney Derby against GWS Giants. The derby has been set up perfectly by the Giants making their best ever start to a season, and the Swans will be wary of the threat posed by their cross-city rivals, following the huge upset in Round 1 last year.
The Swans have also opened the 2015 season with back to back wins. In round 1 they produced what could be the comeback of the year to pip Essendon at ANZ Stadium, before putting on an impressive display against Port Adelaide in a 48 point victory.
The derby will provide the greatest test so far in 2015 of the Giants’ improvements. Against Adelaide the Swans demonstrated a high pressure brand of football, even star forwards Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett were each credited with eight tackles. GWS will look to their runners to exploit any spaces left in behind the Swans’ defence to provide extra goal scoring options alongside key man Jeremy Cameron.
A large crowd is expected at the SCG on Saturday afternoon, possibly the largest seen at a derby since the Giants joined the AFL. If one derby is not enough fans are encouraged to arrive early as the Swans’ and Giants’ reserve sides face off from 12:55pm.
Those attending are also strongly advised to use public transport where possible. Shuttle buses to the SCG will be in operation from both Central and Circular Quay stations.
Saturday 18th April, Sydney Cricket Ground 16:45
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It’s a big night at the SCG on Wednesday as Sydney Sixers host Perth Scorchers in the second semi-final of the Big Bash League. After the shock win by Hobart Hurricanes over favourites Melbourne Stars on Tuesday night, the winner of this match will now host Friday night’s final and progress directly to the lucrative Champions League T20 later in the year.
Even in the relatively short history of the Big Bash League this is a fixture that already has some history behind it. The Sixers won the inaugural title with an upset win in the final in Perth, while a super over was required to decide their most recent encounter at the SCG.
The Sixers will be without Moses Henriques, Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon who are all on international duty in South Africa, while Stephen O’Keefe and Jordan Silk are injured. There are some reports that O’Keefe may play, but that would be remarkable considering he dislocated his shoulder in the final round against Sydney Thunder less than two weeks ago.
The Sixers will be able to call upon England pair Michael Lumb and Ravi Bopara after they suffered a T20 series whitewash against Australia. They will be joined by Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood. The long list of absentees means that former Scorchers batsman Marcus North will skipper the Sixers. As a coincidence, the Perth side will be skippered by a former Sixers player in Simon Katich.
The Scorchers have lost Shaun Marsh to a calf strain, but gain Nathan Coulter-Nile after international duty. The Scorchers have been beaten finalists in both previous editions of the Big Bash League, and will be desperate to go one better this time around.
Wednesday 5th February, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Moore Park 19:45
Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers
Sydney Sixers return to the SCG on Wednesday night for the final home game of the Big Bash League regular season. With a possible home final within touching distance they must overcome fellow top four contenders Hobart Hurricanes.
A home win will be vital for the Sixers’ hopes of securing a finals spot, as they finish with two potentially tricky away games. First up is a trip to Melbourne to face the Renegades, followed by the Sydney Derby at ANZ Stadium against the Thunder – who now have a win under their belts after a two year losing streak.
The Sixers will be looking to rebound from the disappointment of Friday night’s loss against Perth Scorchers in a super over decider. Nathan Lyon was not able to take a wicket against the Scorchers but was far more economic than usual in the T20 format, giving Australian selectors food for thought. Fellow Ashes hero Steve Smith played a great innings, but will be disappointed to have lost his wicket to the first ball of the super over by playing an over-elaborate shot.
It would appear that the Sixers plan to bat their way to victory having strengthened their line up with the return of Michael Lumb after a finger injury. He replaces fast bowler Chris Tremlett in the squad. There does appear to be enough strike bowling at the Sixers’ disposal in any case, with Brett Lee again showing his class in T20 cricket by opening with a double wicket maiden against the Scorchers.
The Hurricanes go into this match on the back of a comfortable win against the Thunder at the weekend. Their key man will be Ben Dunk who is in tremendous form with the bat. His 96 against the Thunder is the highest score in this year’s tournament.
Wednesday 15th January, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) 19:30
Sydney Sixers v Hobart Hurricanes
Sydney Sixers will be looking to follow up on two impressive away wins as they return to the SCG on Friday night to host Perth Scorchers. The sides currently sit equal second on the Big Bash ladder, and both look destined to appear in the finals this campaign.
The Sixers welcome back their Ashes heroes Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon from international duty, along with Englishman Chris Tremlett who is now available for the rest of the tournament. Lyon in particular will want to impress for the Sixers as he looks to get back into the Australian side in the shorter formats.
Perth somehow defended a modest total in Hobart to steal a victory over the Hurricanes in their last game, thanks in no small part to Nathan Coulter-Nile producing incredible bowling figures at the death. He is not available for this game as he is now on international duty, along with fast bowler Shaun Marsh.
Friday night at the SCG has been nominated as a ‘Girls Night Out’, with ladies encouraged to dress up for the occasion to be in with a chance of winning $40,000 worth of Westfield Bondi Junction gift cards. Look out for pamper stations, photo booths and other activities around the SCG precinct.
Friday 10th January, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Moore Park 19:40
Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers
Two winners from the opening round of the Big Bash League meet at the SCG on Sunday night as Sydney Sixers host Melbourne Stars. Both sides won their respective derbies last week and will be full of confidence going into round two.
The Sixers will have Marcus North available after he missed the Sydney derby against the Thunder through illness. North will be looking to bring to the Big Bash the form he has shown in the Sheffield Shield, where he is the highest run scorer this season.
Brett Lee will take to the SCG fresh from his entertaining encounter with Piers Morgan in the MCG nets. As we predicted last week, Lee showed again that he is still capable of highly effective bowling in the shortest format of the game, particularly at the death.
The Stars will be able to add a couple of internationals to their squad this week. Sri Lankan paceman Lasinth Malinga has arrived in Australia for the remainder of the competition, while James Faulkener has been released from the Australian Ashes squad.
The addition of Malinga to the Star’s attack is an awesome prospect in Twenty20 cricket, especially when you consider Jackson Bird’s effort of 4/31 from four overs last week against the Renegades. With this attack complementing a batting order featuring some of the highest run scorers in the history of the 20 over game, it is easy to see why the Stars are the competition favourites.
Sunday 29th December, Sydney Cricket Ground Moore Park 19:15
Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars
The 2013/14 edition of the Big Bash League gets under way this weekend, and first up for the two Sydney teams is a Saturday night derby at the SCG. The fourth Sydney Smash sees Sydney Thunder travel east to the home turf of the Sydney Sixers.
The Thunder are looking for vast improvements on last years winless campaign. They have certainly added plenty of firepower to their squad, they will line up on Saturday with ‘Mr. Cricket’ Mike Hussey and possibly the most in-form batsman in world cricket right now – David Warner.
Since his well documented problems and off field issues earlier in year, Warner has got back down to what he does best – smash the ball to all sides of a cricket ground. The Thunder have also retained the services of last years leading run scorer Usman Khawaja, and will be looking to get off the mark early in this campaign to avoid the embarrassment of going two calendar years without a win.
The Sixers will field their own Ashes hero in Steve Smith. With the series win secured unexpectedly early, the release of players by Cricket Australia for round one fixtures in the BBL is a huge bonus. This may be the only opportunity Sydney fans get to see these players in this year’s competition.
The Sixers will also line up with three England internationals in their squad. Michael Lumb and Ravi Bopara are proven quality in shorter formats of the game, while Chris Tremlett will look to impress with the ball having been largely overlooked on the Ashes tour. Former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee is also still a very effective bowler in T20 cricket.
With an all-star line up for both sides there is sure to be fireworks on and off the pitch. Fans heading for a night out at the SCG on Saturday will be in for a treat.
Saturday 21st December, Sydney Cricket Ground Moore Park 19:15
Sydney Sixers v Sydney Thunder
Sydney Swans are looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the 2015 AFL season when they host Western Bulldogs at the SCG. The Swans had threatened to pull off one of the comebacks of the year for the second time already this season at the weekend, but unlike in round 1 against Essendon, the margin afforded to Fremantle early in the game ultimately proved decisive.
After spending two weeks playing in the reserves Adam Goodes has earned a recall to the senior side for this clash. The experience of Goodes may help the Swans avoid conceding so much of the play in the opening stages, providing the ideal platform for their star forwards to take the game away from their opponents.
The return of Goodes has been tempered somewhat by the loss of Isaac Heeney to an ankle injury. Ben McGlynn and Harry Cunningham have also lost their places in the starting side to Tom Mitchell and Dean Towers.
The Bulldogs arrive in Sydney as the most improved team of the year so far, highlighted by last weekends 57 point victory over the previously unbeaten Adelaide Crows.
Fans attending the game should stay inside the SCG after the game as the NEAFL encounter between Sydney Swans and Sydney Uni will now take place after the AFL game. Kick-off is now scheduled for 17:10.
Saturday 2nd May, Sydney Cricket Ground Moore Park 14:10
Sydney Swans v Western Bulldogs
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Sydney Sixers get their Big Bash League campaign under way tonight with a home match against Melbourne Renegades. With school out for summer, and kids tickets from just $5.00, a healthy crowd is expected at the SCG for a great night of family entertainment.
With Steve Smith taking on the Australian test captaincy for the summer the Sixers are looking to the likes of Nic Maddinson and Michael Lumb to pick up where they left off last time around. They will be captained in Smith’s absence by the ever reliable Moises Henriques.
The bowling attack will be led by the experienced duo of Doug Bollinger and Brett Lee. Sean Abbott will look to reproduce good form from his most recent Sheffield Shield outing, having dealt with recent tragic events with great professionalism and maturity.
Ed Cowan is back for a second stint at the Sixers, replacing Marcus North who has stepped away from domestic cricket. The Sixers also lost Dwayne Smith at short notice after the import pulled out of the squad for the second successive campaign for personal reasons. Riki Wessels has come in as a late replacement, while Stephen O’Keefe and Trent Copeland are currently injured.
The danger men from the Renegades are likely to be the West Indies duo of Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell. The import all-rounders are backed up by an impressive contingent of domestic talent, including international T20 captain Aaron Finch.
Friday 21st December, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Moore Park 19:40
Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Renegades
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The top two sides on the NRL ladder meet at the SCG in a Friday night blockbuster as South Sydney Rabbitohs play host to Manly Sea Eagles. The scheduling of this encounter is perfect timing with both sides on a winning run and playing some of their best football of the season.
In the eyes of many this game is shaping as a potential grand final dress rehearsal. It is exactly the fixture the NRL needs after recent headlines highlighting low attendances at games in Sydney. Hopefully the switch of venue to the SCG will allow for a good crowd to hang around in the city after work.
South Sydney are building into good form after an inconsistent first half of the season. They are still as solid as ever through the middle, but there are signs that they are able to add a bit of flair to go with it. Alex Johnston has been a star in 2014, evidenced by his hat trick in Cairns against the Knights. Johnston’s seamless progression into first grade has kept record try scorer Nathan Merritt out of the side for most of the year.
Michael Maguire’s men will aim to show that they are the real deal as a premiership contender, and dismiss Wayne Bennett’s comments that they are too predictable. It is a pretty bizarre comment when the side you are coaching has just let in 50 points against a supposedly predictable outfit. The Rabbitohs will also want to fire a warning shot at the Sea Eagles to show that they have stepped up a notch from the side that collapsed in last year’s preliminary final.
Manly just keep ticking along, and have now won seven of their last eight games. As we discussed last week the issues they may be having off the pitch are having no impact whatsoever on their performances.
If the rumours of key men departing at seasons end are true then 2014 could be Manly’s last shot at another premiership for a while. The core of the current squad has played together for a long time, and these established combinations are proving key to their current dominance in the NRL.
The Sea Eagles are clearly the benchmark side in 2014, and they deserve their lead at the top of the ladder. It is hard to not see them making it all the way to the decider again this year, but it is equally hard to pick a most likely opponent from the rest of the pack. A win for Souths on Friday night will see them stake a major claim to that status, while also making the run to the Minor Premiership a lot more uncomfortable than Manly would have liked.
Friday 8th August, Sydney Cricket Ground 19:45