Rival captains Cam Smith (Storm) and Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers) exchange words in last year’s grand final. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
Rival captains Cam Smith (Storm) and Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers) exchange words in last year’s grand final. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Check out where your team stands as NRL contender

BOMBER'S BLAST

Anthony Breeze

THE NRL season is nearly upon us with teams going through their last trials before the season opens with a blockbuster between Souths and Melbourne on March 11.

Sportsbet have assessed all teams and released the following market.

Last year's runners up, the Penrith Panthers, sit atop of the list ($5). They are tipped to go one better this year.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have been the big shorteners ($6.00) to win the title after acquiring some quality players like Jai Arrow, Josh Mansour and Benji Marshall.

The Roosters are also a team choc full of talent and share the second line of betting. With an injury-free season, they will be tough to beat.

Last year's premiers, the Melbourne Storm, are ranked 4th ($7.00) on the list due mainly to not having Cameron Smith to guide them around the field like he has for the past decade.

The Canberra Raiders occupy the fifth line of betting ($10.00) and will need coach Ricky Stuart to get the team firing if they are to be a shot at the premiership.

After a great 2020, the Parramatta Eels ($15.00) have much the same team and should go deep into the finals allowing fans to dream of lifting the trophy.

The Titans, after a great recruitment off-season, are equal with the Eels ($15.00).

If the big name signings can fire, the Titans fans will have a chance of watching their team in a finals series.

Rounding out the eight are the Manly Sea Eagles who will rely heavily on the hamstrings of Tommy Turbo.

If he fires they are a chance. If he gets injured, they might only be making the numbers up or miss the finals completely.

The remaining teams Newcastle ($21.00), North Queensland ($26.00), New Zealand ($31.00), Brisbane ($34.00), Cronulla ($34.00), Canterbury ($51.00), St George

($51.00) and Wests Tigers ($67.00) are given little chance of grand final glory.

The season hasn't started so whoever you follow, they are still a chance of giving you an enterprising season.

Good luck to all teams especially the Parramatta Eels.

Softball showdown

THE Ipswich softball season is about to reach its peak with the Chubb Street diamonds to come alive this weekend with semi-finals in all grades to be played.

The A Grade women's semi-final (5.15pm) features last year's premiers Tigers battling it out with Southside Stingers to see who will be the first team to progress in to the decider in two weeks.

The A Grade men's semis feature Tigers (1st) playing Rebels (2nd) and Southside Stingers (3rd) against Outlaws (4th). Both of these games set down for 7.45pm.

The men's games will end the day.

The action starts about 10 hours earlier with finals to be played in Under 12 (Tigers, Raiders, Stingers, Outlaws); Under 14 (Raiders Blue, Tigers, Raiders Red, Outlaws); B Grade men (Bombers, Taipans, Tigers Black, Raiders Red); B Grade women (Raiders Red, Tigers Black, Stingers, Tigers Gold) and C Grade women (Raiders Red, Bombers, Raiders Blue, Stingers).

The Under 16 boys ( Tigers Black, Stingers, Tigers Gold, Raiders) will play Friday night.

Quick thoughts

WINNERS: 1. Queensland Bulls opener Usman Khawaja showed his star quality by scoring a century and leading the Bulls to victory.

2. Ben Simmons has been rewarded for his stellar season by making the All Stars team.

3. The Queensland Reds signalled that they are a genuine threat this year with a thumping of rivals the NSW Waratahs.

 

Centrals first division cricket captain Wayne Jones reflects on becoming the most capped player in Ipswich history. Picture: David Lems
Centrals first division cricket captain Wayne Jones reflects on becoming the most capped player in Ipswich history. Picture: David Lems

4. Centrals opening batsman Wayne Jones who become the most capped player in Ipswich cricket history. He is a walking encyclopaedia on Ipswich cricket.

CRICKET WARRIOR: Recordbreaker shares career thoughts

 

LOSERS: 1. When will NRL clubs learn that they can't pay money outside the salary cap. The Titans are the team effected this time. Should the NRL deduct points to make clubs stop?

2. Last year's English Premier League champions Liverpool are in terrible form and have slipped to sixth on the ladder.

3. Australia's form in the First T20 against New Zealand. The bowlers were poor and the batters followed that poor effort.

Sporting birthdays February 25

1. 1938: Herb Elliott - Regarded as one of Australia's greatest ever middle distance runners. Elliott set many world records and won gold at the Rome Olympics in the 1500m.

2. 1971: Nova Peris - Was the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal. She was multi-talented, playing hockey for Australia and representing our country in athletics.

3. 1985: Benji Marshall - New Zealand rugby league star who led the Wests Tigers to NRL glory in 2005.

On this day

1. 1930: Brilliant West Indian batsman George Headley scores twin centuries (114 & 112) against England.

2. 1962: Wilt Chamberlain scores 67 points against the Knicks for the second year in a row.

3. 1964: Muhammad Ali wins his first world heavyweight title defeating Sonny Liston.

4. 1989: Javed Miandad scores 271 against New Zealand at Eden Park.



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