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Easter holiday match schedules mean being on our toes early

Apart from the NRL, we’ve also got AFL and A-League kicking off on a Thursday night this week.

There’s a few tough games in Round 4 of the NRL, but you’d have every right to feel confident if you take the Sea Eagles, Storm, Sharks, Knights, Cowboys and Roosters.

However, the other two games will have you scratching your head.

The Bulldogs-Rabbitohs and Panthers-Titans encounters can go either way.

The Bulldogs, who welcome back Barba, produced a stirring finish against the Storm last week, but it would be fair to say that the Storm were on their last legs after an arduous start to the season.

The Rabbitohs have been fantastic thus far this season and have placed particular emphasis on defence this week, and how can anyone expect Barba to produce miracles when he hasn’t even played a premiership game in 2013.

We’ll go the Rabbitohs, but anything can happen.

The Titans were unlucky not to have got the cash against the Sharks in Round 1 before returning home to post back to back wins against the Raiders and Sea Eagles.

The Panthers pushed the Rabbitohs all the way last weekend and would fancy their chances against the Titans, who have lost the services of key defender Harrison.

There’s usually an upset result every week in the NRL, so perhaps it’s the Panthers this weekend.

The Titans ventured to Penrith last year where victory would have enhanced their finals hopes, but they ended up getting smashed.

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Analysing the fortunes of teams in Round 1 of the AFL has always been a fruitless exercise.

The fact the Bombers toppled the Crows last weekend will make it diffiuclt to split the Blues and Tigers, also the Demons and Power, as well as the Hawks and Cats.

The Lions, Swans, Saints and Magpies are expected to win.

The Blues have a great record against the Tigers, but were brutally inept against the Lions in the NAB Cup final.

The Tigers, who should have beaten the Blues when last both teams clashed (remember when that bouncing ball deceived everybody), played OK when they defeated the Bombers in Wangarratta during the NAB Cup.

The Demons and Hawks are favourites against respective opponents Power and Cats, but the Power and Cats clearly displayed the better form during the pre-season.

History also tells you that NAB Cup form can be misleading, although in recent years the winners of the pre-season final ends up having a relatively good season.

In the end, it’s the Tigers, Power and Cats, but picking the card will take some skill.

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Massive weekend in the final round of the A-League with several games to decide the final six.

Every chance that the games between Brisbane-Sydney and Newcastle-Western Sydney could end draws, but we’ll stick our neck out and settle on the Roar and Wanderers.

Even if the Roar-Sydney game ends in a draw there’s every chance both teams could still miss the finals as Perth and Newcastle are just one point adrfit, so securing three points is vital in Brisbane tonight.

Perth appears to be on a roll at this late stage of the season and may end up in the finals if they overcome the visiting Adelaide, who are already in the finals and are eyeing off third spot.

Third placed Victory hold a one point advantage over Adelaide and if they’re fair dinkum the Melbourne-based outfit should account for the Phoenix in Wellington.

It’s a big game for the Mariners and Heart in Gosford.

Central Coast are three points behind the Wanderers, but the Mariners boast a better goal difference than Western Sydney and may end up with the Premiers Plate if they sink the Heart and the Wanderers slip up in Newcastle.

The Heart has a better goal difference than the Phoenix, but the Melbourne outfit will pick up the wooden spoon if they fail to get a point in Gosford and the Phoenix does the opposite against Victory.

By the way, it’s Victory, Perth and Mariners to win the other three games.

It’s a truly fascinating round of matches in the A-League, but what a pity all games aren’t taking place simultaneously.

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