IT WAS BUSINESS as usual in the AFL this week with most of the results coming in as expected. The one real blip came at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon when last year’s wooden spoon ‘winners’ West Coast overcame the much fancied Carlton.
The Eagles have been in fantastic form this year and the win gives them serious hopes of playing finals football come September. Scott Selwood put in a superb performance to tag two time Brownlow Medal winner Chris Judd, restricting the Blues skipper to just 17 touches.
Strong performances at the back from Eric Mackenzie and Sam Butler were complimented by an efficient forward line, with Fijian ruckman Nic Naitanui placing himself amongst the contenders for Mark of the Year with a stunning second-quarter grab.
The 103-67 win puts West Coast just two points outside the top four which is currently occupied by Geelong, Collingwood, Hawthorn and Carlton. Geelong remains undefeated after easily beating Adelaide by 52 points while Collingwood were made work hard for their four points against Sydney, eventually seeing off the Swans 99-93.
Gold Coast, Brisbane and Port Adelaide are all tied for bottom spot on the ladder with just two wins each for the year, though the Suns do have a game in hand on the other two.
There was big news in the A-League this week as the word on the street suggests that one of the nation’s favourite sons, Harry Kewell, is to return home and sign a deal with Melbourne Victory.
The 33-year-old former Leeds United and Liverpool winger proved he still has something to offer to the game with a great Asian Cup performance for the national side at the turn of the year.
There are of course concerns over the fitness of a player who has been blighted by injuries throughout his career, but there is a lot of excitement surrounding the mooted move. This week’s reports suggest that Kewell will be presented to the Victory faithful before the preseason game with Celtic, who will play three games over here next month, on July 13.
In other A-League transfer news, Republic of Ireland international Liam Miller will arrive in Perth this week having agreed a two-year deal with the Glory. The one time Manchester United midfielder is reported to have been seeking a lifestyle change for his young family and saw Australia as the perfect location to set up. His first game will most likely be against his former side Celtic on July 9.
And then there was one. The Queensland Reds are the only Australian representatives left in this season’s Super Rugby finals series after the New South Wales Waratahs went down 26-13 to the Blues at the weekend.
The Reds are favourites for their semi final clash with the aforementioned Blues at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday and centre Anthony Faingaa believes that a strong defence will be key if they are to make the final. “If we can get our structure right and do everything right that we can, no one can break us,” he said.
Meanwhile, star playmaker Quade Cooper says that he won’t be changing his attacking style having enjoyed a hugely successful season. “I won’t be adjusting my game at all. I’ll be going out there to be the same player I’ve been all year and hopefully be part of a Reds team that makes it through to the grand final,” he said.
“I’m just really excited like the rest of the boys that we are part of something special. You play rugby for the big occasions and to play in those moments when everything is on the line.”
The other semi final is between the Stormers of South Africa and New Zealand’s Crusaders.