The last weekend of September means only one thing in Australia. AFL Grand Final weekend.

  1. AFL – Grand Final – Sydney versus Hawthorn – They were the two best sides throughout the year and fittingly will meet in an eagerly anticipated Grand Final. They played off in the 2012 Grand Final, which Sydney won by 10 points, and there is every reason to believe this years edition will be as close if not closer. While Sydney have named an unchanged line-up Hawthorn have made two changes to their preliminary final side, bringing in Cyril Rioli and Ben McEvoy for Jonathon Ceglar and Jonathan Simpkin. It will be a tough week for those dropped. Rioli brings x-factor but also risk, having only returned from a long injury lay-off via the reserves last year. All the pre-match talk is of the Swans forward line, but the Hawks were the higher scoring team during the season. The game is likely to be won in the middle, with the team who can get first possession and deliver to their leading forwards likely to get over the line. But only just.

Tip – Sydney have the star forwards but the Hawks have more depth and are eager to avenge their 2012 defeat and win back-to-back premierships. Hawks by 7.

Norm Smith medal (best afield) – Luke Hodge. Calm under pressure, tough as nails and Hawthorn’s heartbeat.

SUQ – 10 – One of (probably only behind the Melbourne Cup) the biggest days on the Australian sporting calendar. Choose a team and tune in.

 

  1. NRL – Preliminary finals – South Sydney Rabbitohs versus Sydney Roosters and Penrith Panthers versus Canterbury Bulldogs – Sensibly scheduled for Friday and Saturday to avoid conflict with the afore mentioned AFL grand final the NRL’s two preliminary finals have a tough act to follow after last weekend’s epic semi-finals. The Panthers and the Rabbitohs are coming off a week’s rest and should be fresher and better prepared. For some reason punters have made the Bulldogs, a team who has only won four of their last nine matches, favourites. The Bulldogs finals victories have been impressive but the Panthers consistency gives them the edge. The Roosters entered the finals in scintillating form but haven’t been at their best since. The Roosters face a Rabbitohs side keen to overcome years of pain. They haven’t been in a grand final since 1971!

Tips – The Rabbitohs and Panthers to progress to the grand final. Both games will be close, but not as close as last week.

SUQ – 8 – Four Sydney teams battling for a place in the grand final will be worth watching.

 

  1. Golf – Ryder Cup – The US and Europe will do battle at Gleneagles, Scotland, over the weekend for one of golf’s most prestigious trophies. Europe won in 2012, 14.5 points to 13.5, thanks to a stunning final day in which they overturned a four point deficit and will be confident of holding onto the trophy on home soil. One of the most eagerly awaited of the opening four ball matches will see Rory Mcllroy and Sergio Garcia taking on Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. Both camps have been using the media to try gain an advantage this week, with Mickelson and Mcllroy particularly prominent in the verbal sparring.

Tips – Europe has the in-form players and home advantage and that should get them over the line.

SUQ – 8 – Teams golf, plenty of the best players in the world and multiple formats. What’s not to like.

 

The cycling world championships in Ponferrada, Spain, reach their conclusion on Sunday with the men’s road race. Tony Martin was considered as close to a sure thing as you can get in cycling but he was upset in the men’s time trial on Wednesday by Bradley Wiggins. The women’s road race is on Saturday and Marion Vos will start at similar odds to Tony Martin. She seems unbeatable, but anything can happen. On Sunday I’ll have a closer look at the men’s road race with a full preview.

With no mid-week review I couldn’t finish without a quick mention of the Liverpool versus Middlesbrough League Cup game. 1-1 after normal time, 2-2 after extra time the game proceeded to penalties, which Liverpool, quite incredibly, won 14-13. Of the thirty spot kicks there were only three misses!

 

 

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