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View from Down Under: Cats surge ahead of Collingwood

AFL, Super Rugby and soccer are all under the microscope this week.

Injuries have forced fly-half Barnes to take a break from rugby.
Injuries have forced fly-half Barnes to take a break from rugby.

AFL

REIGNING PREMIERS COLLINGWOOD had the bye in Round 12, giving Geelong the opportunity to stretch their lead at the top of the AFL ladder.

The Cats didn’t disappoint as they overcame St. Kilda 100-72. The win didn’t come without its consequences though with James Podsiadly, Jimmy Bartel, Mitch Duncan, James Kelly and Darren Milburn all suffering injuries that will need to be assessed during the week.

Friday Night Footy was an entertaining affair over a few beers as the Western Bulldogs came from behind to beat Adelaide. The Dogs were sluggish for the first half but rallied to win by a comfortable 30 points.

The one blip on what would have been a perfect week of tipping for me came at Etihad Stadium where Essendon slumped to defeat against North Melbourne. Lindsay Thomas and Michael Hurley kicked four goals apiece for their respective sides, while big man Drew Petrie kicked an outstanding goal from the forward pocket to seal the four points.

The West Coast Eagles continue to surprise, winning their eighth game of the season at home to Port Adelaide. Shannon Hurn put in a Best on Ground performance for the Eagles, kicking three goals all from outside the 50 metre mark, while the Power’s Jay Schultz took a serious contender for Mark of the Year in the third quarter.

In the other matches, Melbourne thumped Fremantle by 89 points, Hawthorn easily overcame the Gold Coast, Carlton saw off Sydney and Richmond claimed a good away win over Brisbane at the Gabba.

Super Rugby

The final round of regular season matches took place over the weekend meaning we now know who will make up the finals series, and there are two Australian representatives. The Queensland Reds have enjoyed a great year and due to their top two finish get an automatic bye into next week’s semi finals.

The other side with a chance of lifting some silverware is the New South Wales Waratahs, but they face a difficult task this weekend as they travel to Eden Park in South Africa to take on the Blues. The Waratahs will be without influential Wallaby Berrick Barnes who last week announced that he will be taking a break from the game due to a number of head related injuries.

The other two Aussie sides, the Western Force and the Melbourne Rebels, can reflect on what has been a less than satisfactory season and also begin their preparations for 2012. Having lost Matt Giteau at the end of the 2009 season, the Force will now need to find somebody to fill the shoes of his replacement, James O’Connor, who has parted ways with the club following an end to contract talks.

Soccer

We might be in the middle of a ridiculously long off-season (seven months all up), but there’s barely been a shortage of A-League news. This week’s big story centre’s around a supposed breach of the salary cap by Sydney FC at the end of the 2009/10 season. The club are accused of accepting third-party payments outside what was then a $2.25 million cap.

Former Football Federation of Australia (FFA) staff member Matt Phelan is believed to have discovered that Sydney were operating $100,000 outside the cap but the information was ignored when brought to the attention of FFA chief executive Ben Buckley. However the FFA has denied any wrongdoing.

“People who are making those comments are providing nothing more than innuendo,” said Buckley. “Sydney don’t have a case to answer. There have been no breaches. They completed the compliance with both the salary cap and ASA that season.”

It looks like this could be a story that fills the column inches over the next few weeks, particularly as there is no competitive action on the field until October.

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About the author:

Neil Sherwin

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