There is still time for a weekend football fix with a couple of big games in Sydney still to be played. It’s the final game at the SCG in the regular AFL season for Sydney Swans on Sunday afternoon against St Kilda. The Swans will be looking to get back to winning ways after last weekends big loss to Collingwood ended a decent run. This is – on paper at least – the most winnable game of the three remaining for the Swans so it is vital they take the points.
Kurt Tippett was the only Swans player to come out of last weeks loss with much credit, kicking six goals and dominating contested marks. Similarly St Kilda will look to skipper Nick Riewoldt, who has kicked one in five of their goals this season. Gary Rohan makes his long awaited return to football for the Swans this week after suffering an horrific leg break in round four of last season.
Monday night football in the NRL this week is a big Sydney derby between Wests Tigers and Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium. Braith Anasta will line up for the Tigers against his former side for the first time, while Lote Tuqiri returns to first grade action after more than a year on the sidelines with a broken arm. The Roosters have lost Boyd Cordner to ankle surgery that will cost him two months of football, including a possible Grand Final. Sonny Bill Williams is back from suspension to cover the loss of Cordner while Mitchell Pearce makes his 150th appearance in the NRL – the second youngest player in history to reach the milestone.
Everywhere you look things are going wrong for Wests Tigers. On the pitch they have lost five in a row, while key men are either injured or leaving the club altogether. Even their NSW Cup side lost by 40 points to Cronulla last week – despite having 500 NRL appearances between them. The only bright spot has been the form of their Under 20’s in the Holden Cup. Surely now is the time to blood some of those youngsters – after all there really is nothing to lose now.
Coach Mick Potter is under growing pressure with reports that he will be relieved of his duties at the end of the season. The club hardly put those rumours to bed last week, if anything they splashed a little fuel over the fire. If Potter does keep his job then he has to stamp his mark on the 2014 side. A similar situation is facing Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart after another shocking season on the field for the Eels. With the prospect of a second successive wooden spoon looming, Stuart’s response halfway through the season was brutal – a dozen players informed they would not be required in 2014.
It is not clear if the situation behind the Scenes at Wests Tigers allow for a similar course of action, the departure of names such as Benji Marshall and Blake Ayshford hint that salary cap pressures are still causing the club difficulty. Therefore their best route out of this situation could be the promotion of the best players from the under 20’s.
Much has been said of the Holden Cup halves pairing of Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses, and it is quite possible that this will be the first grade combination in 2014. Risky as it sounds to rely on two rookies, there is a recent precedent with Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran guiding Manly to a Premiership in 2011. Others such as fullback Kurtis Rowe also look like they can make the step up to first grade.
A special ticket offer has been extended for pre purchase of general admission tickets. Book online by Sunday and use the code MATESRATES and you can bring a mate for $5.00. For Tigers fans now really is the time to get behind your side.
Sunday 18th August, SCG Moore Park 15:20
Sydney Swans v St Kilda
Monday 19th August, Allianz Stadium Moore Park
Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters