NRL Tips & Previews Round 20 2009 - AFL Tips & Previews Round 17 2009 - England lead 1-0 in Ashes Series Who woke up John Sutton???? Just a few weeks ago in this article I questioned how long South Sydney could afford to keep Jason Taylor at the helm with his team playing some seriously insipid football. But after benching Sutton in a loss to the Tigers at home, Taylor has finally got the message across to his most talented player that you have to earn your spot in First Grade. Since then Sutton has been unstoppable - playing with the kind of fire you'd love to see the rest of the competitions glory boys show every week. The Sea Eagles host the Knights in Gosford and the Titans take on the depleted Broncos to kick-off Round 20 of the 2009 NRL Premiership. In the AFL the Saints just keep winning and the Final 8 is looking like a race of just ten now that Sydney have fallen off the pace and the rest of the lower half of the table begins to explore ways to 'win' by losing... In Cricket the Poms are 1-0 up and deservedly so after breaking their hoodoo at Lords in the 2nd Test. You can follow the match and series in depth via regular video blogs here on wdnicolson.blogspot.com and my Twitter feed as Australia try and wake up and play some good cricket now that it really matters. In Rugby Union the Wallabies missed a golden opportunity to knock the All Blacks off in Auckland and will be chasing their tails for the rest of the winter as a result. Can you kick a goal from the sideline just 1.5 metres from the tryline - interested in giving it a go? Go to http://wdnicolson.blogspot.com/2009/05/kick-off-2009-are-you-up-to-challenge.html for more information on Kick-Off 2009! NRL & AFL Match Previews below. =================================================================== NRL ROUND 20 - 2009 Quick hit Previews for the Greatest Game of All as the pretenders finally start to fall out of the mathematical race for a playoff birth. SEA EAGLES over KNIGHTS > If Jarrod Mullen and Chris Houston were playing the Knights would be a tempting selection here - esp since the game is at Gosford and not Brookvale. But Manly need this game to open up a potential gap on the Broncos so they get my tip here. TITANS over BRONCOS > News today that Karmichael Hunt (big loss) and Peter Wallace (no big loss at all) are out for the Broncos leaves them to battle the Titans with just 3 quality players in Justin Hodges, Corey Parker and... wait couldn't find a 3rd. Even if Nathan Friend can't play the Titans can't forget about doing anything this year if they lose this game. Hodges could run the ball 30 times on Friday Night. BULLDOGS over EELS > Dogs face an Eels team that were pretty impressive beating Melbourne on Monday Night. But the Dogs are full strength if Hannant plays and will end the Parramatta flirtation with the playoffs this Saturday. COWBOYS over PANTHERS > Yes the Cowboys were over-run by the Tigers on Sunday but that was at Leichhardt and Thurston seemed disinterested after a poor showing in Origin III. He'll rebound this weekend behind the returning Matt Scott and the Cowboys might put on a score in Townsville vs the Panthers. STORM over SHARKS > The Storm didn't just miss Cameron Smith - their lack of attacking options outside of Slater and Inglis were painfully evident. Cooper Cronk and Brett Finch are quality ball players but Nielsen, Chambers, Tomane... no threats there and if Ryan Hoffman is out for any length of time - it won't matter if Smith is back - the Storm are in strife in the short term. Having said that they will beat the Sharks at Olympic Park and if fit in September are my pick for premiers. TIGERS over RAIDERS > Whatever you do this weekend, don't pick the Raiders. DRAGONS over WARRIORS > Warriors aren't without hope here as the Dragons have had a long break and get a bunch of players back into a forward pack that has operated incredibly well without them. Whether it is a case of too many cooks for the first few weeks remains to be seen but you can't pick the Warriors based on their recent form. Dragons to win. RABBITOHS over ROOSTERS > The John Sutton show will continue even as the Anthony Minichiello one tries to start up again. Will be great to see Minichiello back but if Sutton can maintain the rage and care-factor - the Bunnies will win once again as they build an unlikely assault on the final playoff spot.=================================================================== AFL ROUND 17 - 2009 St.Kilda look to have the Minor Premiership in their keeping and are still on track for an undefeated regular season - an amazing effort thus far from the Saints. MAGPIES over BLUES The Magpies just look a little strong for the Blues in Friday Night Footy - but if Fev and Judd fire the Blues will probably win. CATS over HAWKS Rematch of the 2008 Grand Final could spur Hawthorn to a big one but the Cats get Jimmy Bartel back this week and that's good enough for me to pick Geelong. WHARFIES over EAGLES This game might mean everything to a Sandgroper but I've got little interest in the fortunes of either side in 2009. Freo to win because the Eagles don't have Dean Cox. LIONS over KANGAROOS Roos somehow pulled off a draw v Richmond but the Lions are building nicely towards September this season and they won't drop this one. BULLDOGS over SAINTS Two suspensions (Koschiztke and Dawson out) open the door to the Bulldogs who are capable of running with the Saints for all four quarters. If those two play then I pick St.Kilda but I like the roughie from time to time (to the detriment of my tipping) and I am going with the Bulldogs to break the perfect season party up. SWANS over DEMONS Was thinking Melbourne until I saw their 'out' list for this game and have instead installed Sydney as the special fried rice of the weekend. BOMBERS over TIGERS Tigers get some manpower back but the Bombers will be too good in a game they simply must win if they wish to play Finals Football. CROWS over POWER Yes I'm an East Coaster and no I don't have anything against South or West Australians but these derby games hold no interest for me outside of the fact I can't really tip based on the home team factor. Crows are still in the hunt for the Top 4 and will win but the Power need this game to make life harder on the Bombers. =================================================================== 2009 ASHES UPDATE ENGLAND win 2nd Test convincingly but Kevin Pietersen's campaign is over. Australia blew the 1st Test in dramatic fashion and then were outplayed from the get-go at Lords. We head to Edgbaston for the 3rd Test with Australia desperate to square the series at 1-1 but the tour match with Northampton may go a long way to determining the makeup of the Test Team. This website is covering the Ashes with regular video blogs, twitter updates and features over the course of the Test Series so keep checking the main page or the archive list on the right for the next addition. Follow me on Twitter during the Day's Play. =================================================================== WALLABIES TEST SERIES WINTER 2009 The Wallabies had a halftime lead and couldn't hold on in Auckland and the loss may cost them their chances in the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations as wins away from home are vital to winning either crown. South Africa host the All Blacks in the 2nd Tri-Nations Test this Saturday Night in Bloemfontein. Here is the Test Schedule for Winter 2009: June 6 Sydney 7:30pm (EST) Bundaberg Rum Series v Barbarians Won 55-7 June 13 Canberra 7.30pm (EST) Bundaberg Rum Series v Italy Won 31-8 June 20 Melbourne 8.00pm (EST) Bundaberg Rum Series v Italy Won 34-12 June 27 Sydney 8.00pm (EST) Bundaberg Rum Series v France Won 22-6 July 18 Auckland 5.35pm (EST) Tri-Nations v New Zealand Lost 22-16 August 8 Cape Town 11.00pm (EST) Tri-Nations v South Africa August 22 Sydney 8.05pm (EST) Tri-Nations v New Zealand August 29 Perth 8.05pm (EST) Tri-Nations v South Africa September 5 Brisbane 8.05pm (EST) Tri-Nations v South Africa September 19 Wellington 5.35pm (EST) Tri-Nations v New Zealand =================================================================== Good luck with your tips this weekend!