While the focus of the world is on the Olympics, the world of sport outside this goes on. The major football codes in our part of the world are either in the run to the finals or in the finals, while there is also test cricket being played in the home of the Olympics and in the Caribbean. Here is what I expect to see across the weekend.
The round kicks off with Geelong and Hawthorn squaring off in another instalment of their intense rivalry. This time the Hawks will get them for the first time since the 2008 Grand Final on their way to an assault on yet another premiership.
Saturday will see some average games, with North Melbourne, Port Adelaide and Richmond to all record easy victories. There will be plenty of hype around the Collingwood v St Kilda and Western derby match ups; however the Pies and Eagles will be too classy and record victories to keep them in the hunt for the top four.
Melbourne will easily account for the Gold Coast Suns at the MCG on Sunday, while the finals chances of the Blues and Bombers will be dealt another blow on the road at the hands of the Swans and Crows. Teams fighting for the top four cannot afford to lose at home at the stage of the season, especially against sides struggling with injury and form.
The grudge match between the Roosters and Dragons kicks off the round. The Dragons would be favoured to win this one.
The Storm host the 15th place Panthers in a rare Saturday afternoon clash and simply must win to get their top two chances back on track. This is the first of three games on Saturday, with the Newcastle Knights looking to continue their good recent form against the hottest team in the league, the Bulldogs, who must be due for a loss sooner or later.
Saturday is rounded out with the Cowboys hosting Manly in a match that is sure to be exciting as the Cowboys look to shore up a top four spot, while the Premiers fight to stay in the top eight.
Sunday should see the Sharks celebrate the return of skipper Paul Gallen with a win over the Warriors, the Broncos get back on track and Souths go on their merry way on the Gold Coast.
The round finishes on Monday night with the Tigers taking on Parramatta, a must win for the Tigers to stay in the finals race.
Promises to be a fantastic final between the Chiefs, the competition leaders all season long and the Sharks, who have come from nowhere to make the finals and win through to the final. The travel will tell against the Sharks and the Chiefs will take the title in Sonny Bill Williams’ last game before he heads to Japanese Rugby and back into the NRL
The Australian Ice Hockey League enters its last month, with teams jockeying for position to make the finals in Newcastle the first weekend of September.
The weekend kicks off Friday night with the Gold Coast Blue Tongues hosting the first of two games against the Melbourne Mustangs. The Blue Tongues have to win both games to stay in the finals race and they will do that.
Saturday also sees an important Bauer Conference matchup between the Sydney Ice Dogs and Newcastle North Stars and the Perth Thunder travel to Canberra to take on the Knights. The North Stars and Thunder will continue their good form and keep the finals race alive in both conferences.
On Sunday the Thunder travel up the Hume to Baulkham Hills to play the Sydney Bears, a match that could go either way, but the Bears should be that little but too good and record another win to keep the pressure on the Ice Dogs for second place in the Bauer Conference.
The Knights also travel up the Hume to visit the Ice Dogs on Sunday. Expect the Dogs to be out for a big victory in this one.
The cricket world is watching the match up of the top two ranked test nations in England and South Africa, played in amongst all the Olympic action. The Proteas smacked them in the first test and started Day 1 of the second test in a similar fashion, however the English struck back to have South Africa 5/262 at the close of play.
If South Africa win this match they re-claim the world number one ranking. Hard to see that happening, England cannot bat that badly tow tests in a row. Think this one will be a draw and the battle for the number one ranking to head to the third test.
Watching this series makes one think how Australia will compete with either of them in the next eighteen months. Where will our runs come from? Our preparations for next year’s Ashes are well underway with Australia A having some success as they tour England playing county sides and for a couple of “tests” against England A. What’s most pleasing about this tour to date is that test opener Ed Cowan has made runs, which poses the question of why is his opening partner Dave Warner not there as well.
On the other side of the world the West Indies are hosting New Zealand. The Black Caps were all out for 260 on the first day, a total Chris Gayle could make by himself against a weakened Kiwi attack.
Stay tuned for my thoughts on the Olympics as well as the other happenings in the world of sport.
Have a great weekend.