2015 AFL season, round 12
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Another red hot atmosphere is in store at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday when Western Sydney Wanderers host Sydney FC in the ninth A-League Sydney Derby. After a loss and a draw in the two derby games earlier in the season the Wanderers will hope to brighten an otherwise frustrating campaign with a win over their local rivals.
As is always the case with derby games not too much should be read in to their respective positions on the ladder, and Sydney will be wary of a backlash from the last placed Wanderers. The Sky Blues have been in great form since the Asian Cup break – scoring three or more goals per game – and are looking to strengthen their claim for a place in the top four.
In particular the Wanderers need to contain Marc Janko, who as scored in each of those four games, as well as the potential for another goalscoring cameo from the bench by Shane Smeltz. Western Sydney’s task is made harder by an enforced defensive reshuffle thanks to suspensions for Mateo Poljak and Matthew Spiranovic.
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold also has a decision to make on his defence. Rhyan Grant impressed as a substitute against the Mariners when he replaced the struggling Aaron Calver at right back, while Seb Ryall was unlucky to have been left out of the squad.
Despite being unbeaten in the last three derbies Sydney FC have not won at Pirtek Stadium since the very first encounter back in October 2012. The overall record between the two sides is three wins apiece and two draws, and another tight encounter should be expected on Saturday night.
Saturday 28th February, Pirtek Stadium Parramatta 19:30
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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
Round 20 in the NRL is Rivalry Round, and brings three Sydney derbies and plenty of former players coming up against their old clubs. It all gets underway on Friday night at ANZ Stadium where the Canterbury Bulldogs will be looking to complete the double over the Parramatta Eels. Tony Williams plays the 100th game of his NRL career, and it happens to be against the team for whom he debuted in 2008.
Josh Morris, Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano all return to add strength and size to the Bulldogs team sheet, while Mitch Allgood and Ken Sio are back for the Eels. Parramatta are now fully focussed on 2014, and the recruitment process stepped up another notch this week with the signing of Nathan Peats from Souths.
Eels fans should remember that this is a reciprocal home game for members, so all those with ticketed memberships gain entry to the stadium. The Eels merchandise stall will also be offering 30% of all items upon presentation of you membership card. These savings in the wallet might be all that Eels fans take away from this encounter as the Bulldogs – eight wins from the last eleven games – look to extend Parramatta’s losing streak to nine.
It’s all about Josh Dugan on Saturday night as the St George Illawarra Dragons fullback faces the club who sacked him earlier this year. There is a good chance that the ‘booze brothers’ will meet up again as, although the Canberra Raiders have not named Blake Ferguson to play, he is expected to take the field at WIN Stadium.
Dugan lit the fuse for this encounter on Monday by claiming he was unfairly treated by the Raiders. He was quoted as saying that he had been ‘thrown on the scrap heap’, and while not all will sympathise with someone who breached his clubs alcohol policy on a regular basis, it certainly has been an incredible turnaround for Dugan. After having his contract terminated at the start of the season and working as a labourer in Canberra, he is now in line for a big contract at the Dragons and has just come back from State of Origin duty for New South Wales. He can expect a feisty reception from the travelling fans, but that is only going to spur him on if anything.
The Dragons will be looking to build upon their huge upset win over table topping South Sydney on Monday night. Not such good news this week however was the season ending pectoral muscle injury suffered by Matt Cooper after an awkward fall in that match. The injury could in fact prove career ending as Cooper is off contract at the end of the year. Daniel Vidot steps in for this match, and a good performance there should see him keep his place for the remaining games. Those attending the match can look forward to a triple header, with the NSW Cup match kicking off at 13:10.
Sunday afternoon in the Shire sees Cronulla Sharks face off against the Penrith Panthers. The Sharks are well backed favourites for this encounter, although it’s difficult to see why. Last week they were demolished 40-0 by the Roosters, and the ASADA investigation into the use of supplements is back in the spotlight this week with player interviews now imminent. Wade Graham and Jeff Robson are the only players returning from a lengthy injury list that still contains the likes of Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis and Beau Ryan.
The Panthers will fancy their chances at Remondis Stadium, and will possibly be lifted by not having to face their former captain Lewis. Despite last week’s loss to Newcastle the Panthers have shown themselves to be a solid team this year, and not much is made of their injury list even though it is as long as any other club in the NRL. It speaks volumes for how coach Ivan Cleary has built a roster of team players all pulling in one direction.
With a family friendly afternoon kick off, Sunday is Family Fun Day for Sharks fans. There are plenty of activities in and around the stadium, as well as some discounted family tickets on offer. Now, more than any other time this season, the Sharks need their fans to stick by them and make sure that a promising season does not fall away under the mounting external pressure.
Rivalry Round concludes on Monday night at Campbelltown Stadium, with Wests Tiger facing the Manly Sea Eagles. There are plenty of reasons for Tigers fans to get sentimental for this clash. Skipper Robbie Farah plays his 200th game for the club, and Liam Fulton plays his 150th. Meanwhile, after making their final appearances at Leichardt Oval last week, departing Tigers Benji Marshall and Blake Ayshford farewell Campbelltown Stadium this time around. This match also represents Manly’s first visit to Campbelltown in 15 years.
The are some great offers for Tigers fans looking to get out to this match on Monday, with under 16’s getting free entry with a paying adult in general admission areas (one free entry per paying adult). There is also 10% of merchandise on the night, and check the Tigers website for player appearances at retail outlets this week where free match tickets are available with purchases over $50.00.
Aaron Woods joins Keith Galloway on the sidelines this week, although both are expected back very soon. Geoff Toovey brings his improving team over to Campbelltown, where he captained the Eagles on that day 15 years ago when they last visited. As always seems to be the case with Manly, their big players are coming into form at the right stage of the season, and they will look to strengthen their grip on a top four position.
On to AFL action and Sunday evening at the SCG sees the Sydney Swans taking on the Richmond Tigers. The Swans currently sit in fourth place on the ladder, just ahead of Fremantle and Richmond. At this stage of the season this is a game they really do not want to lose to a rival so close behind, while a win gives them some breathing space in the top four and means they can take on their remaining fixtures looking at teams above them rather than those hovering below. Already missing a number of key players, the Swans will be relieved that Ryan O’Keefe has been cleared to play after suffering a head knock last week.
The Swans are on a hot streak of four wins, and have also won the last six meetings between the two sides at the SCG. However, don’t expect a goal fest in this twilight fixture – these teams are two of the three best defensive teams this season. If you want to end your weekend on great note with a night out at the footy make sure you get in quick for tickets, general admission has sold out already but reserved seating is still available in all categories.
So Sydney has the pick of five big games across the football codes this week, and each has its own subplots running right through. With pretty fair weather on the horizon, and plenty of attractive ticket offers around too, make sure you get out to a game this weekend. Also, check out the links below for horse racing at Randwick and WWE wrestling at Allphones Arena – if that’s your thing!
Friday 26th July, ANZ Stadium 19:35
Canterbury Bulldogs V Parramatta Eels
The Bulldogs are looking to complete the season double over the Eels after a win in round two. Tony Williams plays the 100th game of his NRL career, against the team for whom he debuted in 2008. Josh Morris, Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano all return for the Bulldogs, while Mitch Allgood and Ken Sio are back for the Eels. Ticketed memberships for the away side are valid for this match at ANZ Stadium, and Eels members can also claim 30% off merchandise on the night.
Our tip – Every week you get the feeling that this could be the one where the Eels finally pull one out of the bag, but it just doesn’t happen. Expect more of the same against the in form Bulldogs.
Saturday 27th July, WIN Stadium 17:30
St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders
Josh Dugan faces the club who sacked him earlier this year, and will likely come up against his ‘booze brother’ Blake Ferguson. The Raiders have an incredible record against the Dragons – they have won the last eight encounters between the two. Gates open at 13:00 for NSW Cup, Holden U20’s Cup and finally the NRL kick off at 17:30
Our tip – After Monday night’s heroics against Souths this could be the night for the Dragons to end Canberra’s dominance of this fixture.
Sunday 28th July, Remondis Stadium 14:00
Cronulla Sharks v Penrith Panthers
The Sharks will be looking to rebound from the 40-0 hammering from the Roosters last week. Wade Graham and Jeff Robson return to alleviate some of their injury toll, but the likes of Gallen, Lewis and Ryan are still out. Get down early to Remondis Stadium for Family Fun Day activities and discounted family tickets.
Our tip – Penrith to keep the pressure on the Sharks.
Monday 29th July, Campbelltown Stadium 19:00
Wests Tigers v Manly Sea Eagles
Skipper Robbie Farah plays his 200th game for the Tigers, and Liam Fulton plays his 150th. After making their final appearances at Leichardt Oval last week, departing Tigers Benji Marshall and Blake Ayshford farewell Campbelltown Stadium on Monday night. Under 16’s get in free with a paying adult in general admission, and there is also 10% of merchandise on the night.
Our tip – Manly to emerge victorious, just as they did on their last visit to Campbelltown 15 years ago.
Other Sydney teams – South Sydney are away at Gold Coast, while the Roosters travel to Newcastle. Souths will be looking to silence those who are suggesting the injury to Greg Inglis will derail their Premiership bid, will the Roosters look like strong favourites to keep the pressure on their rivals with victory over the Knights.
Sunday 28th July, SCG 16:40
Sydney Swans v Richmond Tigers
Fourth plays sixth in this twilight fixture, with a home win the usual outcome when these two face off. There are no players returning from injury for the Swans, but at least Ryan O’Keefe avoided joining those currently ruled out of action. General admission tickets have already sold out but reserved seating is still available in all categories.
Our tip – The Swans to continue their current good form against a spirited Tigers side.
GWS Giants face the enormous task of overcoming Collingwood at the MCG this weekend. The Magpies are certain to come out all guns blazing after last week’s shock loss to The Gold Coast Suns.
Saturday 27th July, Allphones Arena
John Cena, Ryback, Kane and others take to the ring at Allphones Arena. Only a limited number of Bronze category tickets are still available priced around $50.00 each. As long as you don’t take things too seriously, this can be a fun and entertaining night out.
Saturday 27th July, Royal Randwick Racecourse
YPR Race Day