Bluffer’s Guide to the weekend’s best sporting action

From Australia to Tuam, it’s a packed weekend of sporting action once again

Fans enjoy the pool deck on day one of the first Test match between Australia and England at the Gabba in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Jono Searle/EPA

Fans enjoy the pool deck on day one of the first Test match between Australia and England at the Gabba in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Jono Searle/EPA

 

Friday

The Ashes, day two (11.15pm (Thursday)-8am on Friday, 11.30pm-8am on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, BT Sport 1)

What is this?

The Ashes is the biggest rivalry in cricket, taking place every two years between England and Australia for the famous tiny urn. If you want a full beginner’s guide, Patrick Madden will fill you in here.

Hong Kong Open, Fanling (4.30am-8.30am on Friday, 4am-9am on Saturday and Sunday, Sky Sports Golf)

Didn’t the European Tour season end just five days ago?

It did indeed with Tommy Fleetwood taking the Race to Dubai title. But, these days, golf never stops with the European Tour copying the PGA Tour’s blueprint of a wraparound season and kicking things off for the new season the very next week. The 2018 Race to Dubai only has 51 weeks left to run, are you not excited?!

But are any of the big name players playing this early in the season?

Well, it’s not so much the stage of the season that matters, more the money involved. With the Hong Kong Open offering big appearance fees this year, the likes of Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and even last year’s (week’s) order of merit winner Tommy Fleetwood have decided to start their season here.

And what about the Irish?

After a 16th place finish in the Race to Dubai, Paul Dunne rounds off his year in Hong Kong as the only Irishman in the field. However, he will have to improve on an opening round of one over par if he’s to make further gains in the world rankings and Ryder Cup points list.

Ulster v Bennetton (6.55pm, BBC NI 2), Leinster v Dragons (7.20pm, TG4), Cardiff v Connacht (7.30pm, BBC Wales 2)

Isn’t the international rugby still going on?

It is, with Ireland playing on Saturday, but the Pro14 continues on regardless with each team simply missing the players who are on international duty.

Where are the three Irish provinces in the table?

Les Kiss’ Ulster side sit second in the B Conference of the Pro14, six points behind Scarlets and just a point ahead of Leinster meaning a bonus point win here would be huge. In the A Conference Connacht are lounging in mid-table and face the team directly below them in Wales.

West Ham v Leicester (7.30pm, Sky Sports Main Event)

Former World Cup winners against former Premier League winners, this should be a cracker then, shouldn’t it?

Well, that depends. For West Ham it’s an absolutely must-win game to pull themselves out of the relegation zone – at least until West Brom play on Saturday. What makes it even more important for the Hammers is the fact that David Moyes desperately needs to bring some optimisim to the Olympic Stadium with his appointment greeted mainly by pessimism so far. Leicester, meanwhile, only sit four points ahead of the Londoners and could do with pulling themselves a bit further away from that bottom three.

Saturday

Ireland v Argentina (4.30pm, RTÉ2)

What’s going on here?

It’s the last of the November Guinness Series with Joe Schmidt’s side looking to get one over for the Pumas’ victory in the 2015 World Cup. Robbie Henshaw is missing with a hamstring strain while Adam Byrne and James Ryan have been given their chance to shine in what’s largely been a developmental series.

Who’s going to win?

Ireland are favourites to complete a November series clean sweep at odds of 1/8 while the Pumas are 9/2 to cause a shock after a year of long haul travelling and endless games.

Liverpool v Chelsea (5pm, BT Sport 1)

So, if Liverpool are 3-0 up in this one we back the draw, yes?

It’s not a bad shout but it’s highly unlikely that Jurgen Klopp’s side will be 3-0 up. Chelsea are beginning to find some of the form that made them champions last season, with Eden Hazard in particular at his best.

What’s at stake?

For Liverpool it’s a chance to overtake the champions and move into the top four. For Chelsea there’s an opportunity to close the gap on leaders Manchester City before they play on Sunday.

Sunday

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (12pm, Sky Sports F1, 12.35pm, Channel 4)

Where are we in the Grand Prix season now?

Well, we’re right at the end. Lewis Hamilton has already won the title and will pick it up at the end of this race for the fourth time.

So what’s everyone else racing for?

Nothing more than pride, rankings and ... loads of money.

Castlebar Mitchels (Mayo) v Corofin (Galway) (1.30pm , TG4)

What are they playing for here, then?

In the seemingly never-ending GAA season – much like the golf – it’s time for the Connacht Senior Football Championship final this weekend. Following the conclusion of play on TG4 there will be deferred coverage of the Munster final between Nemo Rangers (Cork) and Dr Crokes (Kerry).

For our full guide to all of the sport on TV this weekend and for the week in full you can click here.

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