Regular readers of this column (now there’s the highest amount of wishful thinking this website has ever come up with) will be in no doubt what was the highlight and winner of the week.
NRL Grand final having been run and won means the end of winter football in Australia for another year, but it doesn’t mean the end of the sporting goodness, and we’ll be here all summer to point out the best, and to cane Michael Slater at every opportunity.
SOUTH SYDNEY – Many, many years have passed with many, many disappointments and some awful, awful players and some terrible, terrible coaches. All of that was now washed away with the first premiership in 43 years.
The Grand Final win seemed one of the most popular in decades, and the sea of red and green was an inspirational sight to behold. For once all in rugby league was good.
Souths looked the most likely to score and win, but the small margin throughout most of the game led the battle hardened cynical Souths fans wondering if they were saving their disappointment of all time for the biggest stage of all.
Thankfully some English warriors and their Australian and New Zealand counterparts put on one of the most complete grand final performances. The tries that threatened all game finally arrived in the last 10 minutes allowing Souths fans to breathe easier and enjoy some of the battle.
Whilst Sam Burgess’ feats are rightly praised, there were plenty of players almost as deserving as best on ground, and one of those is one the younger Burgess brothers who all Souths fans hope stick around for a while longer to build a comfortable gap at the top of the total premierships ladder.
After years of disappointment though, we’ll savour this one and take it if that’s all that’s offered for another generation of Souths fans.
NRL LOWER GRADES – The only reason the NRL finals better than the AFL final is the extra football you get to see on the actual day.
The U20’s NZ v Broncos final was typical U20’s and NZ rugby league with loads of tries and a NZ side who had vastly different fortunes within the same game. A big lead was almost chased down by the baby Broncos with a sideline conversion miss failing to take the game into extra time.
The long awaited State Championship between Qld’s Northern Pride and NSW’s Penrith was another thrilling encounter with a see-sawing scoreline. The rank outsiders and part-timers Northern Pride from Cairns got the chocolates in the end, beating the highly fancied and well backed Penrith team who were choc-filled of NRL players.
MOURINHO v WENGER – There’s been plenty of back and forths between the two in recent times, and with the results going to Mourinho maybe Wenger thought it was time to strike back. The push on Jose was pretty weak in UFC terms, but in football it was as tough as you get (aside from Newcastle manager Pardew headbutting opposition), and most welcome. More of it we say.
JAPANESE GP – Don’t get us wrong, we love a wet F1 race. It adds plenty to what are sometimes a little drab. However with a looming typhoon that was scheduled to dump plenty of rain at race start time, the powers that be allowed the original race start time to stand to ensure that conditions at the start were as undriveable as possible, so the race can only last 2 laps.
Happily the rain slowed to allow most of the race to continue, but when the rain returned it was battling with the fading light to create some conditions which were just as bad as the start. Unfortunately it appears to have cost the career if not life of Jules Bianchi who crashed into a tractor whilst fetching another car that had spun off in the same sport earlier.
Europe viewers don’t have to put up with many late night-early morning GPs, if at all, so to not move the GP forward, presumably to keep Lord Sitsonbottom, Pierre, Franz and Luigi happy, was a stupid decision. Surely they could put up with some uncomfortable wake up time once in a season. They would be far more comfortable than Jules Bianchi will be.
NRL ENTERTAINMENT – The line up didn’t look good, and it wasn’t. At least it wasn’t Seal, Delta Goodrem, or Michael Slater . Madde nbrothers next year for sure. F*** Channel 9’s influence on NRL.
Has to be Bathurst. Sure there’s plenty to see on Thursday to Saturday, but on Sunday there’s no better excuse for a lazy day on the couch following the big machines around Mt Panorama. Fans may be confused with 5 makes this year, but it will probably end in a Red Bull win anyway which should make it easier.
Also there’s a new F1 track this weekend, with the Russian GP in Sochi. Russian government answering the age old question of what to do with a former Winter Olympics site.
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NETBALL – AUSTRALIA to beat NZ
F1 – ALONSO for podium
CRICKET – NSW to beat Qld – One Dayer
FOOTBALL – ENGLAND to score in less than 15 minutes v San Marino
CRICKET – AUSTRALIA to beat Pakistan
MOTO 3 Japan – JACK MILLER to win
ENGLISH SUPER LEAGUE – WIGAN to beat St Helens in final
BATHURST – RICK KELLY to be Top Nissan
NBL – SYDNEY KINGS to beat Wooloongong
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ENGLAND to beat San Marino
DRAW – Latvia / Iceland
BELGIUM to beat Andorra
UNDER 2.5 goals – Finland v Greece
NORTHERN IRELAND to beat Faroe Islands
DRAW – Scotland / Georgia
WALES to beat Bosnia
SPAIN to beat Slovakia
DRAW – Slovenia/Switzerland
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UZBEKISTAN to beat Bahrain
JAPAN to beat Jamaica
AUSTRALIA to beat UAE
OVER 2.5 goals – USA / Ecuador
CHILE to beat Peru
FRANCE to beat Portugal
COLUMBIA to beat El Salvador
DRAW – Yemen / Iraq