There are three Sydney derbies in the NRL this weekend, and two of them mark anniversaries of classic Grand Final matches. Penrith Panthers will be looking to replicate their 2003 decider victory over the Sydney Roosters when the two sides meet at Centrebet Stadium on Friday night. The Roosters will be without Sonny Bill Williams as he serves the first of a two game suspension after taking the early guilty plea for a grade 3 careless high tackle on Willie Mason last weekend. Mitchell Aubusson moves into the starting side from the bench to replace him.
Despite the absence of Williams it still looks like a tough night is in store for the Panthers, up against the best defence in the NRL. Disappointing defeats in recent games have left the Panthers needing to get wins on the board to remain in contention for a finals place. As always they will look to the kicking game of Luke Walsh to create the best try scoring opportunities.
Michael Jennings returns to Centrebet Stadium for the first time since moving across to the east, and he is expecting a hot reception. There will be Panthers fans who have noticed his excellent form since joining the Roosters, and left wondering where that form was during his last couple of seasons for their club.
There is a ticket offer worth taking advantage of for those looking to book early. Book online via Ticketek before midnight on Thursday and you can get $18.00 tickets for adults, $6.00 for children and $50.00 for a family of four. Use the promotional code 2003GFSpecial at checkout to receive the discounted rates. Get there early on Friday as the first 5,000 through the gates receive a 2003 Grand Final commemorative pennant.
Its 80’s night at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday as the Eels mark 30 years since beating Manly in the 1983 Grand Final. There are a number of activities planned for the night, including 1000 80’s style sweatbands for the first fans thorough the door, and a lap of honour by legends from both of the 1983 sides. All special edition match worn Eels jerseys from Saturdays match will be put up for auction immediately after the game, and fans also have a chance to run around on the pitch shortly after full time. As always with Eels home games make sure you pre purchase tickets to avoid a minimum $5.00 surcharge on all tickets sold on the day.
Jarryd Hayne is now rated as unlikely to play again for the Eels in 2013. Coach Ricky Stuart has hinted that his hamstring injury will be carefully protected with the World Cup at seasons end in mind. With little to play for this season it seems like a sensible choice by Stuart, although if their current losing run continues he may be tempted to reintroduce his star man.
On paper – and based on his reported $500,000 salary – Chris Sandow should be a star man for the Eels, but yet again he will turn out for Wentworthville in the NSW Cup. This is despite an injury this week that has ruled out Luke Kelly. Ben Roberts has been named in Kelly’s place, despite being told earlier in the year that he is not required next season.
Mitchell Allgood will play from the bench for the Eels and will come face to face with Steve Matai just over a month after landing a few punches on the Manly centre. Were it not for the NRL’s new strict stance on punches and fighting, you would expect Matai to be seeking revenge at the first opportunity. However, at this stage of the season there is too much at stake to risk suspensions, so expect Matai to try and land his blows on the scoreboard instead.
The Sea Eagles are expecting to go with an unchanged starting side, provided everyone pulls up well after Monday night’s win over the Tigers. Justin Horo is in great form for Manly, and is clearly fired up by his release from Parramatta at the end of 2012. A repeat of his brace of tries against the Tigers could well be on the cards.
Monday Night Football returns to Kogarah this week as the St George Illawarra Dragons face off against the Canterbury Bulldogs. The Dragons are on a poor run of form at WIN Jubilee Stadium – a loss on Monday will be their fourth in a row at the venue and it will be only the second time in their history that this has occurred.
Full back Josh Dugan has been cleared to play for the Dragons after suffering a mild concussion against the Raiders. His opposite number Ben Barba has been ruled out for five weeks with a high ankle sprain sustained while scoring a try against the Eels last weekend. He is expected to return in time for the Bulldogs’ likely finals campaign, and most of their remaining games look winnable in any case.
Des Hasler has shuffled his players around the field to compensate for the loss of Barba, with Sam Perrett moving to full back and Krisnan Inu to the wing. Josh Morris plays his 150th career game, and the Bulldogs centre comes up against his former club and also his brother Brett. 2013 has not been a convincing season by any means for the Bulldogs, yet they have remained in contention for a spot in the top four and will go into this encounter full of confidence after a dominant display against Parramatta last weekend.
Round 19 surely represents the best chance that GWS Giants will have to ensure that they do not end up winless in the 2013 AFL season. On Saturday afternoon they come up against the Melbourne Demons, the team just one step above them on the ladder. Jeremy Cameron a kicked club record seven goals last weekend against Collingwood at the MCG, in a game that the Giants will take a lot of encouragement out of. The Demons on the other hand were flogged by 122 points by North Melbourne. Midfielder Rhys Palmer has been ruled out of the Giants’ remaining games of the season with a foot injury that will require surgery. A number of players emerged from the Collingwood match with knocks and will require tests later in the week.
This fixture is the inaugural Many Cultures match celebrating cultural diversity in Western Sydney. As part of the celebrations the Gaelic Athletic Association have organised the curtain raiser – a match between New South Wales and Victoria kicking off at 11:30. The Giants have a special ‘two for the price of one ticket’ offer via this link http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/irishgiants. Use the code STANDTALL to activate.
Wherever you go this weekend enjoy the action, and if you are going to either of the Grand Final anniversary matches make sure you get there early to pick up the giveaways.
Friday 2nd August, Centrebet Stadium 19:35
Penrith Panthers v Sydney Roosters
SBW misses out for the Roosters through suspension, so Mitchell Aubusson moves into the starting side from the bench. The Panthers will have to find a way through the best defence in the NRL, and will also be hoping that old boy Michael Jennings is kept quiet. Book online at Ticketek before midnight on Thursday and get tickets for $18.00 for adults, $6.00 for children and $50.00 for a family of four. Use the code 2003GFSpecial at checkout, and make sure to be one of the first 5,000 through the gates to receive a 2003 Grand final commemorative pennant.
Our tip – Roosters defence to hold out the Panthers, even without SBW.
Saturday 3rd August, Parramatta Stadium 17:30
Parramatta Eels v Manly Sea Eagles
It’s an 80’s themed night at Parramatta Stadium to mark 30 years since the Eels beat Manly in the 1983 Grand Final. The first 1000 fans through the gates will get 80’s style sweatbands, and look out for the lap of honour of legends from both of the 1983 sides. Pre purchase tickets to avoid a minimum $5.00 surcharge on tickets sold on the day.
Our tip – Eagles to condemn Eels to a 10th straight loss.
Monday 4th August, WIN Jubilee Oval Kogarah 19:00
St George Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury Bulldogs
Josh Dugan has been cleared to play for the Dragons, while Ben Barba will miss about a month of football for the Bulldogs with a high ankle sprain. Des Hasler has shuffled his players around to compensate, with Sam Perrett moving to full back and Krisnan Inu to the wing. Josh Morris plays his 150th career game, against his former club and brother Brett.
Our tip – The Dragons season effectively ended with last week’s loss to Canberra, expect the Bulldogs to hammer home the point.
Other Sydney Teams – Cronulla Sharks have a tough trip across the ditch to face the Warriors, while South Sydney and Wests Tigers head up to Queensland to play the Cowboys and Titans respectively. Of the three, only the Rabbitohs look likely to come home with the points.
Saturday 3rd August, Skoda Stadium 13:45
GWS Giants V Melbourne
The Giants will be hopeful of registering a first win in the 2013 season against the team one step above them on the ladder. Rhys Palmer has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a foot injury that will require surgery, while a number of players emerged from last week’s loss to Collingwood at the MCG with knocks that will require tests later in the week. This fixture is the inaugural Many Cultures match celebrating cultural diversity in Western Sydney. As part of the celebrations the Gaelic Athletic Association have organised the curtain raiser this week, a match between New South Wales and Victoria kicking off at 11:30. The Giants have a special ‘two for the price of one’ ticket offer via this link http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/irishgiants. Use the code STANDTALL to activate.
Sydney Swans are away to the Western Bulldogs this weekend, and are strong favourites to extend their current winning streak.
Saturday 3rd August, Rosehill Gardens Racecourse from 11:00
Winter Challenge Race Day