With seasons end now only a few weeks away Sydney football fans have the pick of six key matches across the codes this weekend affecting teams at the top and bottom of the ladders. Round 22 in the NRL gets underway on Friday night and sees Parramatta Eels hosting their final home game of the 2013 season. It’s a battle of the bottom two as they face fellow strugglers Wests Tigers at Parramatta Stadium. The Eels find themselves on the verge of successive wooden spoons, and are currently on course to match the NRL record for the worst season having only notched three wins.
The big news for Eels fans going into this one is that Jarryd Hayne has been named to play. We speculated last week that Ricky Stuart may be tempted to bring his star man back into the side to reverse their awful run of losses – despite publicly stating just over a week ago that Hayne’s season could actually be over.
The Tigers look certain to be missing many of their big names as they also look to snap a losing streak. There are strong rumours that Benji Marshall will be dropped for the second time this season, while Chris Lawrence and Aaron Woods will this week undergo season ending surgeries. They join the likes of Tim Moltzen and Joel Reddy on the list of players not returning in 2013. Robbie Farah will also have to wait to become the Tigers’ most capped player after he dislocated a thumb against the Titans. Joel Luani makes his debut as the replacement hooker, while young playmaker Luke Brooks could also debut after the Tigers sought a second tier salary cap exemption – and it is he who may well come in for Marshall.
On a better note for the Tigers there are some long term absentees who are making returns this weekend. Marika Koroibete returns to the first grade side, while Lote Tuqiri and Matt Bell will return to action in the NSW Cup this Saturday at Leichardt Oval against top of the table Cronulla Sharks. Incredibly the Tigers are fielding a NSW Cup side with nearly 500 NRL appearances between them. Tickets for that match are $10.00 on the door and kick off is at 1.10pm.
There were vastly contrasting fortunes last week for the Sydney Roosters and Canberra Raiders ahead of their clash this Saturday at Allianz Stadium. While the Roosters made it a perfect set of six wins in a row by putting 40 points on the Panthers, the Raiders lost by 60 at home against the Storm. The fine form of the Roosters – and a few wobbles from those around them – sees them now rated as favourites for the Premiership.
Anthony Minichiello hyperextended his knee in the Panthers game and will miss at least two weeks, forcing a number of Roosters players to move around the park. The headline switch is Roger Tuivasa-Sheck going to fullback. Tuivasa-Sheck has already gained a reputation as one of the most exciting attackers in the NRL and this move may give him the opportunity to use his ability to even greater effect. Be sure to arrive early for this one as the first 5000 fans through the gates receive a free 1911 Premiership Pennant.
With the race for finals football heating up there is a vital match at Remondis Stadium on Saturday night as sixth placed Cronulla Sharks face the Newcastle Knights. The Sharks have responded incredibly well in the last few weeks in the face of mounting pressure from the ASADA investigation. They currently have a four point lead over ninth placed Gold Coast Titans, so a win at Remondis Stadium on Saturday will leave them looking very strong for a finals berth.
Captain Paul Gallen returned against the Warriors last weekend for his first match since suffering a foot injury in State of Origin game two. Coach Shane Flanagan has been able to name the same seventeen man squad.
Also unchanged are the Manly Sea Eagles, who are taking their home game against the Warriors this Sunday up to Gosford. For those who fancy taking the scenic route to the Central Coast there is a great day trip on offer that includes a return ferry trip to Gosford and reserved seating tickets.
Geoff Toovey will hope to see his team carry on in the manner that destroyed the Eels last week, but the Warriors will surely pose a stiffer challenge. The Sea Eagles will be looking to put on a good show and take the attention away from some unwanted attention they have received this week regarding the ASADA investigation.
There was more injury woe for Penrith Panthers this week with Sika Manu and Adam Docker the latest casualties ahead of Sunday’s match with North Queensland Cowboys. It’s going to be a very young side that Ivan Cleary now relies upon to drag his team to the finals. Both sides have slipped down the ladder in recent weeks, but the Cowboys responded to the announcement of Neil Henry’s departure in stunning fashion with a big win over Souths. Finals hopes are now looking very precarious for both teams – the loser here will be almost certain to miss out.
It’s a second consecutive Monday night match for Canterbury Bulldogs this week as they host the Gold Coast Titans at ANZ Stadium. The Bulldogs have named the same seventeen who ran riot in the second half against the Dragons last week, while the Titans will be looking to build upon their streak breaking win over the Tigers. There is a great “Bring a Mate” ticket offer worth taking up for this one, pre-purchase two tickets for just $20.00.
This week’s AFL action in Sydney sees a repeat of last year’s preliminary final between Sydney Swans and Collingwood at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night. After 6 wins in a row this marks the first of a tough run of fixtures leading into the finals for the Swans, culminating in a final round showdown with ladder leaders Hawthorn. The Magpies bounced back into form with last week’s thumping win over Essendon.
Recent matches between these two sides have gone the way of the Swans. They were particularly impressive in the reverse fixture earlier in the year at the MCG, although this was somewhat overlooked thanks to the dual racism incidents surrounding that game. Tickets for this one are selling fast – only Silver, Gold and Platinum seats are still available.
Enjoy the action wherever you are this weekend.
Friday 9th August, Parramatta Stadium 19:35
Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers
The Eels host their final home game of the 2013 NRL season in a battle of the bottom two. Jarryd Hayne has been named to play despite coach Ricky Stuart publicly stating just over a week ago that his season could actually be over. The Tigers are missing many of their big names, including Chris Lawrence, Aaron Woods and Robbie Farah.
Our tip – There will be no better chance for Parramatta to score one more win in this most forgettable of seasons.
Saturday 10th August, Allianz Stadium 17:30
Sydney Roosters v Canberra Raiders
Combine the Roosters’ winning margin and the Raiders’ losing margin from last week and there was a difference of nearly 100 points. The Roosters are now favourites for the Premiership, but have lost skipper Anthony Minichiello for a few weeks thanks to a hyperextended knee. A number of Roosters players move around the park to cover his loss, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck going to fullback. Be sure to arrive early for this one as the first 5000 fans through the gates receive a free 1911 Premiership Pennant.
Our tip – Seven up for the Roosters.
Saturday 10th August, Remondis Stadium 19:30
Cronulla Sharks v Newcastle Knights
The Sharks have responded incredibly well in the last few weeks in the face of mounting external pressure and currently have a four point lead over ninth placed Gold Coast Titans. A win over the Knights at Remondis will leave them looking very strong for a finals berth. Paul Gallen plays his first home match for nearly two months as Shane Flanagan has named the same 17 man squad that defeated the Warriors.
Our tip – More good times for the Sharks in the rollercoaster of a season that is 2013.
Sunday 11th August, Bluetongue Stadium (Gosford) 14:00
Manly Sea Eagles v New Zealand Warriors
The Sea Eagles are taking their home game against the Warriors this Sunday up to Gosford. For those who fancy taking the scenic route there is a great day trip on offer that includes a return Ferry trip to Gosford. Geoff Toovey has named the same seventeen who destroyed the Eels last week, but the Warriors will surely pose a stiffer challenge.
Our tip – Manly to firm their grip on a top four spot.
Sunday 11th August, Centrebet Stadium 18:30
Penrith Panthers v North Queensland Cowboys
The Panthers added Sika Manu and Adam Docker the injury list this week, and are now pinning their finals hopes on a very young team. Both sides have slipped down the ladder in recent weeks, but the Cowboys responded to the announcement of Neil Henry’s departure in stunning fashion with a big win over Souths. The loser here will be almost certain to miss out on finals football.
Our tip – The slip in form for the Panthers is a concern coming up against the rejuvenated Cowboys.
Monday 12th August, ANZ Stadium 19:00
Canterbury Bulldogs v Gold Coast Titans
The Bulldogs have named the same seventeen who ran riot in the second half against the dragons last week, while the Titans will be looking to build upon their streak breaking win over the Tigers. There is a great “Bring a Mate” ticket offer worth taking up for this one, pre-purchase two tickets for just $20.00.
Our tip – The timing of the Bulldogs’ current form is almost perfect, expect the momentum to continue all the way to September.
Other Sydney teams – South Sydney Rabbitohs head south to Melbourne, while St George Illawarra Dragons face the Broncos in Brisbane. The timing of Souths visit to the Storm could not be worse with their injuries to key players coinciding with two losses in three games. The Dragons season is now clearly over after last week’s loss to the Bulldogs, and a Broncos side with much more to play for should prove too strong.
Saturday 10th August, ANZ Stadium 19:40
Sydney Swans v Collingwood
A repeat of last year’s preliminary final as the Swans look to build upon their current run of six wins. The Magpies bounced back into form with last week’s thumping win over Essendon, although recent matches between these two sides have gone the way of the Swans. Tickets for this one are selling fast – only Silver, Gold and Platinum seats are still available.
Our tip – The Swans to continue the push for what had looked like an unlikely spot in the top two.
As confidently predicted here last week, the GWS Giants finally shook of the prospect of a winless season. It will be tough to back that up this week however, as they face the long trip to face Freemantle.
Saturday 10th August, Royal Randwick from 12:00
McGrath Missile Stakes