The sun reared its glorious head over the weekend, for some parts. It reminded us that Spring is ever so close, and finals football (in both codes) is so close you can smell it.

The grass at your local footy field is turning from a sludgy brown to a less sludgy half yellow/half green concoction, and it is time to let the significant other know the couch is going to be frequented and there may be a few profanities exiled from your lungs.

Talking about grass, the PGA tour’s BMW Championship drew to a close on Sunday with USA’s Justin Thomas taking home the $1.6 million prize. His near flawless third round score of 61 led him to -25, three shots clear of second placed countryman, Patrick Cantlay.

His third round -11 set a course record and it was shots like this that earned him the mantle.

In case you missed it last week, the EPL is back (already) and in a big way. Draftstars chucked a lazy $5K EPL Saturday contest on and with a little research you could take home some subsidiary cash from this one. The top scorer on Saturday was Norwich’s Teemu Pukki who banged home a hat-trick in his sides big win over Newcastle.

Staying in England, the second Ashes test was (kind of) played over the weekend and parts of last week. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the match was badly affected by rain and we were only privy to a touch under 300 overs. Still, it was an enthralling contest which dipped and swung in each sides favour throughout.

Australia looked on top until the obvious turning point in the match when debutant English paceman, Joffra Archer, struck him in the next with the perfect bouncer.

Ben Stokes showed what he was capable of in England’s second innings and almost did enough to earn his side an unlikely victory. But it was Smith’s concussion replacement, Marnus Labuschagne who may well have just saved the match for Australia.

With the ball for Australia, again, Pat Cummins was the star with six wickets for the match. For England, Archer’s long awaited debut could not have been more impressive. His intimidatory bowling reminded the world of Mitch Johnson in the 2013/14 Ashes series.

Now back home, three games remain in the NRL season and things are tightening up.

Even the seemingly unbeatable Storm were felled at the weekend by a surging green machine. The Raiders knocked off the (still) ladder leaders by four points at AAMI park in a thriller and hold onto third spot on the table.

The Rabbitohs lost again and have no fallen to fifth after sitting pretty in second a few weeks ago. Rabbits star, Damien Cook, remains blameless for the result, his 70 DS points indicated he did everything he could for his side.

The Broncos remain in the tight tussle for seventh or eighth spot but looked primed to snaffle it. It is thanks in no small part at all to DS and just general young superstar Payne Haas. The 19-year-old beast scored an enormous 100 DS points against the Panthers and was simply unstoppable.

This solo effort try was the topping on the fantasy cake for Haas.

The penultimate round of the AFL was a strange one, but it looks to be the key indicator as to how the final eight will look. The South Australian teams look shot, an in honesty, their round 22 losses (by 66 and 86) show they do not deserve a spot in the finals. They were leaped by the Doggies, who now sit in eighth and are one of the most dangerous sides in the whole AFL. A win against Adelaide next week ensures them a finals spot.

Inexplicably, the Lions left it until late to knock off the Cats and in doing so snatched top spot. Fair play to them and if they can beat the Tigers at the ‘G next week they will guarantee themselves a minor premiership after winning just five games last year.

If the Lions/Cats game was not game of the week, it was the Tigers/Eagles. Both of these affairs were a preview for finals footy and if they’re anything to go by, you will not want to miss a second. The Tigers were probably lucky to come away with the win after being five goals down at quarter time but if there’s a will, Richmond will find a way.


The Swans showed off their youngsters on Friday night against the Dees and won comprehensively. An even team contribution saw no Swan score over 100 whereas the Demons had three- Jack Viney (123 DS points), Angus Brayshaw (113) and Max Gawn (111).

Carlton might actually be alright next year. Their form under David Teague has been exceptional and a victory over St. Kilda in his first game as official head coach was another step forward. Nic Newman has been one of the recruits of the year and his 21 touches, six tackles and 110 DS points were a big part of the victory.

The Lions and Cats played out a thriller and Brisbane proved, again, why they are a legitimate premiership threat. Jarryd Lyons has been in rare form for the Lions and he had another 126 DS points from 28 touches, 11 tackles and a goal. He is an automatic 100 points at the moment.

Adelaide were insipid against the Pies and probably want the season to be over, in truth. They had no answer for Jamie Elliott who booted five majors and looked like he could have kicked 10. He snared 117 DS points to go with his haul.

Big bad Ben Brown put on a clinic on Saturday night against the Power, booting 10 goals and singlehandedly outscoring them. It was the first bag of 10 in the AFL this year and was the major reason the Roos annihilated a Port side looking to play finals. His double fistful came from 14 kicks and earnt him 125 DS points.

The Bombers steadied in round 22 after a rough few weeks. Can they make an impact in finals? They will need to do better than their 32-point win over Freo, but it’s a start. When their best players play well, the Bombers are a danger. On Saturday night, Zach Merrett (23 touches, 10 tackles, two goals, 124 DS points) and Dylan Shiel (27 touches, one goal, 112 DS points) were their best.

Richmond and West Coast may well play off in a Grand Final in five weeks, but in the meantime we can savour what was one of the games of the year. If the Eagles are to reverse the table in their next encounter, they will need to stop Dusty. The champ is in rare form and his 35 touches, one goal and 130 DS points were the difference on Sunday.

It was a tale of two completely different fortunes between the Giants and Dogs. The Dogs are flying and the Giants are limping, and it was clear. After a tight tussle, the Dogs kicked 12 straight goals and ran out 61-point victors. Jack Macrae and Josh Dunkley might be the best one-two midfield punch getting around at the minute but Pat Lipinski was the man on Sunday. He manged 129 DS points from 27 touches, seven tackles and two majors. Value.

One of the best was left for last. Not when discussing an enthralling contest, but when considering value to the game of AFL. The Hawks granted Jarryd Roughead a farewell game and he, and his teammates delivered against the Suns. Roughead booted six majors and snaffled 100 DS points but it was James Worpel who tried to steal the show. Make no mistake, Worpel is a star. He had 34 touches, seven tackles, two goals and 134 DS points to dominate the Suns.

Written by Brin Duggan

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