The third Ashes Test at Old Trafford yesterday, from Marc’s Flickr photostream.
Tonight’s Friday night football will not disappoint. The Newcastle Knights host the Brisbane Broncos at Hunter Stadium and the Penrith Panthers play the Sydney Roosters at home.
The Knights v Broncos game gives the Broncos probably their last chance to launch a bid to reach the top eight and play the finals. The Knights are clinging to eighth spot on the ladder, just ahead of the New Zealand Warriors on score differential.
The Knights will be without Willie Mason who has a fractured cheekbone and Kade Snowden who is suspended. The Broncos, 12th on the ladder and four points adrift of the top eight, will play David Stagg at centre, replacing Alex Glenn who needs surgery on an injured thumb.
The Penrith Panthers, in 10th spot, will need to climb a mountain if they are to beat the 2nd-placed Roosters. It’s probably too much to ask of the Panthers, given that the Roosters boast the league’s best points for-and-against differential (plus 237).
The Roosters will start without Sonny Bill Williams, suspended for two weeks after his shoulder charge on Mason in the last round. The Panthers will have to do without five injured players: Nigel Plum, Sam McKendry, Matt Robinson, Lachlan Coote and Brad Tighe.
The Australia v New Zealand Super Rugby final is on tomorrow, Canberra’s Brumbies playing the Chiefs at Waikato Stadium in New Zealand. The Brumbies are on a roll, having returned from South Africa with a 15-13 semi-final win over the Cheetahs.
The Brumbies’ South African coach Jake White will be hoping to go one better than last year with his team; the Chiefs’ Dave Rennie is chasing successive championships.
The Chiefs are odds-on favourites, but the Brumbies, boasting a top scrum led by Scott Sio and a backline built around Matt Toomua and Henry Speight, should make it a great match on all fronts.
The third Ashes Test between England and Australia in Manchester looks like going the full five days with Australia sitting comfortably at 3/303. Captain Michael Clarke is on 125 and Steve Smith is playing well with 70 off 150 balls. The partnership of 174 runs put Australia in a comfortable position at the close of day one.
Openers Chris Rogers and Shane Watson set the Aussies nicely on course. Watson fell for 19 but Rogers stayed focused and reached his fifty before Usman Khawaja got a shocker from the third umpire who failed to overturn a dodgy caught behind decision. Rogers missed out on his first Test ton after a loss of concentration and was bowled LBW by Graeme Swann for 84. – Blake Moretti