It was a five day weekend Down Under thanks to Easter and ANZAC Day so like many others I made the most of it and got away for a bit of a break. Watching footy in a bar in a remote town is always good fun and there was plenty of action over the past few days.
The big story of the round was Gold Coast’s first ever win as they surprisingly downed Port Adelaide 104-101 at AAMI Stadium. Justin Westhoff missed a kick after the siren which would have won the game for Port. Rookie Brandon Matera put in a superb performance with 21 possessions and 4 goals to earn the NAB Rising Star nomination for Round 5 as the Suns came from 40 points down late in the third quarter to snatch victory.
Collingwood won the big Anzac Day game against Essendon to remain top of the ladder while Fremantle, Geelong, St. Kilda and Carlton all claimed maximum points.
My own West Coast Eagles had a bye last week but are back in action tomorrow night against Melbourne at Paterson’s Stadium and I’ll be heading along to that with star forward Mark LeCras set to make his return from a groin injury.
Brisbane Broncos continue to lead the way in the country’s premier Rugby League competition thanks to a win over the Wests Tigers. Veteran Darren Lockyer was the star of the show on Good Friday, scoring a try and a drop goal as well controlling the game from five-eighth.
St George-Illawara Dragons also sit on 12 points after their impressive 24-10 victory over Sydney Roosters in the code’s big Anzac Day clash. Mark Gasnier, Darius Boyd, Brett Morris and Ben Creagh all crossed for the Dragons with the Roosters’ two tries coming from Justin Carney and Mitchell Pearce.
There was an upset on Monday as Melbourne Storm lost their unbeaten record at AAMI Park, going down to the New Zealand Warriors 18-14 despite pushing hard for a win late on. A last minute try by Shane Shackleton gave Parramatta Eels a 22-18 victory over Gold Coast Titans and Newcastle Knights defeated Canberra Raiders 22-12.
In the other games, Manly Sea Eagles beat Penrith Panthers 22-16 thanks to a pair of Steve Matai tries, Canterbury Bulldogs overcame South Sydney Rabbitohs 34-24 and North Queensland Cowboys saw off Cronulla Sharks 34-12 with superstar Jonathan Thurston in impressive form.
In very uninspiring news, the Socceroos will play neighbours New Zealand in a friendly on June 5 in Adelaide. It’s the first time that the national team has played in South Australia in seven years with Adelaide Oval to host the game.
However the announcement was met with some dismay, not least because New Zealand play Mexico at altitude in South America just three days beforehand and don’t arrive in Adelaide until the night before the game. The sides last met in the run up to the 2010 World Cup with Australia winning 2-1.
Meanwhile, former international Scott Chipperfield has shunned a move to the A-League for next season by agreeing a new 1 year deal with FC Basel in Switzerland.