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It’s hotting up in NRL and AFL — and tipsters’ stress levels rising

NRL – Round 22
The Storm put 68 on the Raiders on the road and the Rabbitohs, minus Greg Inglis, have lost two of their past three games.
The Storm got the Rabbitohs 17-10 in Sydney in Round 6, so even if Inglis makes a shock return this weekend the premiers are going to take some stopping at home.
The Eels play host to the Tigers with the Eels out for revenge after a 31-18 defeat at Leichhardt in Round 3.
Maybe the Eels as they have played well at home in most of their games and Jarryd Hayne makes a return, while the Tigers were appalling against the Titans and are missing the injured Robbie Farah.
The Roosters were awesome on the road against the Panthers, however Anthony Minichiello now joins Sonny Bill Williams on the sideline with injury.
Expect the Raiders to lift after getting blown away by the Storm and the return of Blake Ferguson is a bonus, however rolling the competition leaders is a big ask despite rolling the Dragons in their last appearance on the road.
The Sharks and Knights should be a terrific contest, but the Sharks will take some stopping as they’ve proved hard to beat at home all season and the return of Paul Gallen saw them pull off a remarkable win over the Warriors in Auckland.
The Knights have had their fair share of wins against the Sharks over the years, reagrdless of the venue, and the fact that Danny Buderus breaks the record for club appearances should inspire his teammates, however they’re missing key players and you’ve got to wonder how they’ll back up after their golden point draw with the Broncos.
There is a whisper that Kurt Gidley may take the field for the Knights at the 11th hour, which will only enhance the prospects of the Knights.
The Warriors rolled the visiting Sea Eagles 18-16 in Round 13, so the Sea Eagles will be fired up when both teams square off at a neutral Bluetongue Stadium.
The Sea Eagles have won their last five games and have piled on 198 points to prove that they will take a power of beating.
The Warriors were on fire until a shock loss at the hands of the Sharks, so it’s hard to get a gauge as to how they will perform against the Sea Eagles.
Losing to the Sharks was a bolt from the blue for the Warriors, who have already won on the road against the Roosters this season – and that too was unexpected.
The Broncos are running into some kind of form and they would be kicking themselves after letting victory slip from their grasp before sharing the points with the Knights.
The Dragons appeared to have the Bulldogs on toast on Monday night before capitulating in extraordinary style in a 39-20 loss, so it’s hard to see them winning in Brisbane regardless if Josh Dugan, who was knocked back by the Broncos after he was sacked by the Raiders, brings his A-grade game to the table.
The fact that the Broncos played 90 minutes last weekend at least gives the Dragons, who have posted their fair share of upset wins in Brisbane, hope.
The Panthers have their injury concerns and are starting to struggle if last week’s heavy loss at the hands of the Roosters is any guide.
After a narrow loss at the hands of the visiting Broncos, the Cowboys hit the jackpot when they smashed the Rabbitohs in Townsville.
Hard to believe that the Cowboys are aiming for back to back wins for only the second time this season, and it would a surprise if they didn’t achieve that task, especially with Johnathan Thurston back to his best, as the Panthers have leaked 112 points in their past three games.
It was a great win by the Titans against the Tigers as it snapped a four-match losing streak, however facing the Bulldogs in Sydney is a difficult assignment.
The Bulldogs had their problems at the start of the season, but have steadied and appear bound for the finals.
The Titans jumped out of the blocks at the start of the year, however injuries have cruelled their campaign and a spot in the top eight seems unlikely.
The Titans will match the Bulldogs in the engine room, however the Titans lack the class in the backs to match the Bulldogs.
AFL – Round 20
There could be a host of one-sided games this weekend starting off with Hawks up against the Saints.
Lance Franklin and Luke Hodge are missing from the Hawks line up, but they will bounce back after a heavy loss against the Tigers and it’s hard to see the Saints, who have only won three times this season, posing a serious threat.
The Lions were too good for the Saints last weekend in Brisbane, however meeting the rampant Tigers at the MCG may not be an enjoyable experience.
The Tigers have rolled the Dockers and Hawks in recent weeks, but surely they won’t have one of their renowned hiccups against the Lions with a spot in the top four a realistic possibility.
Facing the Cats after a loss, especially when they play their next game at home, has always proven to be a difficult task and the Power could be in for a long day despite having the right to be full of confidence after their wonderful win over the Crows.
The Power will play finals, but a win over the Cats would be a shock.
The Blues are on the nose and the Bulldogs are a breath of fresh of air if recent form is any guide, however the Blues can just about kiss a finals berth goodbye if they stumble at the hands of the ever-improving Bulldogs.
The ramifications should the Blues lose would be enormous and many would argue that it was ridiculous replacing Brett Ratten with Mick Malthouse.
The Suns won’t play finals, but they have had an excellent season and will get the Demons this weekend.
The Suns are just about the bet of the round, and with Gary Ablett lining up for his 250th game in the wake of the Suns’ impressive effort against the Eagles in Perth the Demons are no chance.
The Magpies boasted an extraordinary record against the Swans before a humbling 47 point preliminary final loss to the red and whites last year at ANZ Stadium.
The Magpies have been one of the best teams on the road in recent years, however they have had their struggles this season and rolling the red-hot Swans back at ANZ Stadium will prove tricky.
The Swans have won six in a row, which includes nine wins in their past 10 games, and following shock defeats suffered by the Hawks and Cats last weekend it’s unlikely they will give up their top two spot without a fight.
It will be a ripper contest and the Magpies, who looked great against the Bombers, are more than a chance, however without an experienced ruckman they deservely start the match as the outsider.
And remember, the Magpies lost on the road recently against the Suns.
Once again, it’s hard to fault one aspect of the Swans’ game.
Are the Bombers finally showing signs of stress?
They were never in the hunt against the Magpies and as a result relinquished their spot in the top four to the Dockers, who arrived in Melbourne last weekend and put the Blues to the sword.
The Bombers should bounce back, but they will have to be at their best as the Eagles, who almost had their pants pulled down by the Suns last weekend, welcome back Matt Priddis, Mark LeCras and Chris Masten.
The Crows-Kangaroos clash is harder to split than the Swans-Magpies game.
The Crows knew how the Kangaroos have felt on more than one occasion this season when they snatched defeat from the jaws against the Power last weekend.
Back in Round 9, the Kangaroos were well on their way to claiming the four points against the Crows before the boys from Adelaide rallied to seal a stunning one point win at Etihad Stadium.
The Kangaroos haven’t rolled the Crows at AAMI Stadium since 2003, but if they continue from where they left off against the Cats they are capable of getting the cash.
If the Bombers lose their points, the Kangaroos would not be fit to fill their spot in the top eight if they fail to account for the Crows at a hostile venue.
It’s hard to know what the Crows will bring to the table after a shattering loss at the hands of the Power.
The Kangaroos have played the Crows in Adelaide since 2009.
The Dockers have an extremely favourable draw running into the finals and will not only finish in the top four, but are capable of cracking the top two if the Hawks, Swans and Cats stumble in coming weeks.
The Dockers should improve their precentage when they play host to the Giants – 95 points separated both teams in the corresponding match last year.
The Giants are buoyant after toppling the Demons and they gave the Magpies a run for their money a fortnight ago, so hopefully the Giants will step up for four quarters against a side who are suddenly a genuine premiership threat.

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