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View from Down Under: ANZAC Day Footy to Take the Sporting Spotlight

This Tuesday is ANZAC Day, which stands for “Australia and New Zealand Army Corps” Day. On the 25th of April each year, Australians stop to commemorate the first military engagement of the ANZAC forces that occurred during the First World War.

ANZAC forces landed on Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, to fight against the Ottoman Turks, who were allies with Germany. The main objective was to capture Constantinople but the campaign was disastrous and over eight months, more than 8,000 ANZAC soldiers lost their lives.

As you’d expect, sport also plays a big part in the commemorations, with both the Australian Football League and the National Rugby League hosting games both on the day of, and the night before.

The first of those is an AFL match at the MCG between Richmond ($1.74 or -135) and Melbourne ($2.10 or +110). If the Tigers can get the job done here – as they are expected to – they’ll start the season with five straight wins, the first time that’s happened since 1995.

On the day itself, Essendon will host Collingwood in a match that was the first of any of the major sporting codes to be played on this special day, when they first met in 1995. That match ended in a draw, and although several of the contests since then have been close, they’ve never repeated that result.

Essendon is a $2.10 (+110) shot with Collingwood at $1.74 (-135) for the match that is always played in front of 90,000 or more people. The Magpies lead the overall ledger by 13 wins to eight.

There will be two NRL games on ANZAC Day, the first of which is the traditional ANZAC Day Cup game between the Roosters ($1.68 or -147) and the St. George Illawarra Dragons ($2.25 or +125).

These two clubs are two of the oldest in Sydney and have battled it out on ANZAC Day every year since 2002. The Dragons have the edge with nine wins to six and currently sit on top of the ladder with six wins from seven games. They look like overs to me.

The last match on one of the most important days on the Australian calendar sees the Melbourne Storm host the New Zealand Warriors. What makes this game even more significant than the others is that it’s a contest played out by one Australian and one New Zealand side.

For those wanting to have a flutter on it – as many of the ANZAC’s would love to – Melbourne is a $1.30 (-333) favorite with the Warriors at $3.70 (+270).

Going to the races is also something of an ANZAC Day tradition. At Melbourne’s Flemington racetrack, the St. Leger will be run. The race is run over 2800 metres for three-year-olds. The odds have not yet been released for this race.

Before ANZAC Day comes, though, there is a feast of sport to sink our teeth into over the weekend.

The A-League Soccer Finals begin in Brisbane on Friday night with the elimination final between the Brisbane Roar ($2.10 or +110) and the Western Sydney Wanderers ($3.20 or +220). Brisbane scored three second-half goals last week to enter the finals in good shape and should be too strong for the Wanderers.

On Sunday night, Australia’s greatest goal scorer, Tim Cahill, will lead Melbourne City ($1.90 or -111) into their elimination final against Perth Glory ($3.60 or +260). The talisman netted twice last week and the $6.50 for him to score first in this one looks juicy too.

On Saturday, the Group One Sydney Cup will be run at Randwick over 3200 metres for three-year-olds or older. Big Duke is the favorite at $3.20 (+220). Down in Melbourne, there’s also a nine-race card at Caulfield that we’ll be covering.

Of course, there’ll be plenty of Super Rugby action, and the pick of it in terms of the five Australian teams comes when the Brumbies – who are top of the Aussie conference – take on the Highlanders, who are fourth in the New Zealand conference.

In what is a real indicator of how badly Australian rugby is struggling at the moment, the Canberra-based side is a $7 (+600) outsider with the Kiwis at $1.10 (-1000), but given it’s ANZAC Day this week, we are going to leave that for another time.