This Weekend in Sports: a National Wrap
Round balls, oval ball or no balls. Finals, mid-season matches or opening rounds. Doesn’t matter what your preference is, there are plenty of sports to choose from this weekend as we take a look at what’s on in the nation’s capital cities.
Four weeks ago, any NRL pundit would have laughed at the selection of the Penrith-Cronulla game as the match of the round, yet here we are. Tomorrow the Panthers play host to their crosstown rivals, looking to go even on points with the Sharks and cement their place in the top eight. The Sharks have had nothing short of a remarkable start to the season. Last year’s wooden spooners were written off pre-season, but have exorcised the demons to be three wins from four outings. Sydneysiders may even get a treat from rugby league’s bad boy and former Dally M Medallist Todd Carney, who’s rejuvenated his career under new coach Shane Flanagan.
Finals are welcomed with open arms by A-League fans this weekend, and what better way to get the ball rolling, than with a dream semi- final matchup between the Mariners and the Roar. Suncorp Stadium plays host to the competition heavyweights on Saturday night, as the Roar look to extend their recent domination over the Mariners. It’s a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash that, if it’s anything like last year’s grand final, will be one for the ages.
It’s playoff time in the NBL as the first of the three-game series between the Wildcats and Blaze rolls into Perth on Sunday. Perth will be out to extend their title as the most successful team in NBL history by qualifying for the grand final. With a strong performance they could top up this year’s trophy cabinet, which already contains Kevin Lisch’s Andrew Gaze Trophy for the league’s most valuable player.
When you think of typically American sports, what springs to mind? Big meat heads, half naked ladies playing gridiron, and a hockey rink? Believe it or not, the three of these have been combined and imported to our shores with the Adelaide Roller Derby making its debut on Sunday night. The Road Train Rollers and Mile Die Club get ready to rumble in Bout 1. A word of warning: don’t expect make-up and fairy floss from these ladies, it’s a brutally magnificent spectacle.
The AFL goes back to its roots this weekend as Melbournians get their turn for a slice of the Aussie Rules pie. The Hawks-Magpies clash is the pick of the bunch with some of football’s elite making their way onto the ‘G’. Hawks supports with good short-term memories will have last year’s semi-final defeat hanging around like a bad smell - the Pies came from behind to painfully crush their grand final aspirations by a mere three points. Whispers suggest Buddy Franklin’s going to take his game up another gear this year, which makes us wonder…is there any gear higher than six?
Special mentions include the return of the ANZ Netball Championship, Rosehill Guineas Raceday, the V8 Supercars in Tasmania and the Tough Mudder competition in Phillip Island.
WORDS: Tom Melenhorst