Preview of the weekend’s sports action

Some of this weekend’s sporting highlights, include the Matildas World Cup quarter-final clash with Japan, the Super Rugby semi-finals and the Kookaburras match with Poland at the Hockey World League in Belgium.


We begin with the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada ahead of Sunday morning’s quarter-final between Australia and defending World and Asian champions Japan.

Hot conditions are expected in Edmonton, with temperatures tipped to exceed 30 degrees.

A number of Australian players have suffered from burnt feet due to overheating synthetic pitches in Canada.

But midfielder Emily Van Egmond insists the Matildas are used to playing in stifling conditions.

“Well obviously we play down in Australia in the summer and we play a lot of games around the 30 degree, some games around the 40 degree mark so we are somewhat used to it, especially the girls from Perth. So, yeah if it’s a hot day, it’s going to be hot for both teams and I can’t wait.

The Matildas have played their Round of 16 match two days earlier than Japan.

And striker Kyah Simon, who scored the winner which eliminated Brazil, believes their extra two days rest, compared to the World Champions, could prove a deciding factor.

“I think rest is probably one of the most important thing in a tournament like this, when you have got between four to six days recovery in-between games. Every day counts and what you do in those days counts as well. So definitely it’s a little bit of an advantage for us to have a little bit more recovery time.

Matildas coach Coach Alen Stajcic insists his side is vastly improved compared to the one which lost the Asian Cup final to Japan last year.

But he admits it will be tough to beat the World Champions.

“Their passing and their movement off the ball is probably the best out of any team here at the World Cup. So we have a big assignment on our hands. Current World Champions and obviously a very good team. But as I have said before, we are very good team as well and we have been dangerous against everyone and there is no reason why we are not going to be dangerous when we play Japan and be areal threat to beat them.”

And SBS One will bring live coverage of Australia match with Japan on Sunday morning from 5:30 Eastern Time, followed by host nation Canada’s clash with England.

You can also catch top-ranked Germany’s quarter-final encounter with third-ranked France live on SBS on Saturday from 8:00 am Eastern Time, followed by China’s match with tournament favourites the United States.

In Super Rugby, defending champions New South Wales will go into Saturday night’s semi-final against the Highlanders without key centre Kurtley Beale who was ruled out with a quadriceps injury.

The Waratahs had a week off after finishing the regular season on top of the Australian conference and second overall behind the Wellington Hurricanes.

On the other hand, the Highlanders will be battle-hardened following their impressive 24-14 win over fellow New Zealand outfit the Waikato Chiefs in last weekend’s qualifying final in Dunedin.

More than 30,000 fans are expected at the Sydney Football Stadium and Waratahs scrum-half Nick Phipps believes the home ground advantage will be a big boost for his side.

“I think the crowd is going to be massive for us on the weekend, all of our friends and family are pretty pumped and a lot of people are excited to have another home semi. They will lift us in the tough moments and it’s a different cauldron for the Highlanders to walk into.

In Saturday’s other semi-final, the ACT Brumbies face a daunting task against title favourites the Hurricanes in Wellington.

The underdogs, however, will go into the match high on confidence after winning their past three games on the road, including last weekend’s qualifying final against the Stormers in Cape Town.

Wellington flanker Victor Vito insists the Hurricanes remain wary of the Aussies.

“People talk about travel but they have done it quite a few times and always come out on top, so we have a big threat on our hands and we just have to make sure that we assess it correctly.”

In field hockey the Kookaburras will be aiming to continue their winning run when they take on Poland in their third Pool A match at the Hockey World League in Belgium on Saturday morning.

18 year old Blake Govers has been one of the players of the tournament so far with four goals from two matches.

Captain Mark Knowles heaped praise on the rising star, who scored two late goals from penalty corners in Australia’s 6-1 win over Pakistan.

“Yeah, yeah he is flicking well, and obviously to have the three of the guys with world class flicks is nice at the top of the circle, gives us a lot of confidence and penalty corners play such an important role, it’s important that we keep working on them at training, it’s our sequence, it’s our rhythm, it’s the guys getting shots on target and you put the goalkeepers under pressure.”

The Kookaburras final Pool match will be against India on Monday morning Australian time.