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No easy games in NRL, AFL and Super Rugby

NRL – Round 16

What’s worse than picking winners in the NRL when clubs are missing players because of State of Origin?

That’s picking winners after Origin.

You’ve got no idea who is going to back up.

And you’ve got no idea what the starting line-ups are going to be until match time.

This is when the bookies can be a reliable source.

The Raiders have been pretty ordinary on the road in 2013 and after failing to overcome an under-strength Tigers at Campbelltown it’s hard to see them rolling the Rabbitohs.

At this stage the Rabbitohs are bound for the grand final, while the Raiders are no certainties to make the eight.

The Tigers-Storm clash at Leichhardt is an interesting match up.

Cameron Smith is missing from the Storm line up, but with Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Ryan Hoffman returning the Tigers are going to have their work cut out for them.

The Tigers aren’t out of it by any stretch of the imagination, but you’d like to be on the Storm.

The Panthers turned their season around with an emphatic 19-0 win over the Dragons at WIN Jubilee Oval in Round 11, so the Panthers will be out to make it a double against an opponent who are determined to avenge that defeat.

The Panthers have their injury concerns and how will the Dragons react with Jamie Soward exiting the club.

The Knights-Titans clash in Newcastle should be a terrific contest.

The Knights got the Titans by a comprehensive 30-6 margin on the Gold Coast back in Round 7, but the Titans had their injury concerns that day.

Things have certainly changed as the Knights are now facing their fifth straight loss, while the Titans have won four of their past five games – they suffered an honourable defeat at the hands of the Rabbitohs in Cairns.

Toss of the coin here, but perhaps it’s the Knights.

The Warriors and Broncos met in Round 12 in Brisbane with the New Zealand outfit getting the cash 56-18, however that was prior to Game 1 in the State of Origin series.

The Broncos will field a much stronger side on this occasion, but the Warriors have suddenly hit form and it would come as a surprise if they didn’t make it five straight wins.

However, it would be wise to treat the Broncos with due respect.

Have the Cowboys turned the corner?

They’re still a long shot to make the finals, but rolling the Dragons in Wollongong was a good sign and they could prove a handful for the Sharks.

The Sharks are sitting in sixth place and like the Titans are well and truly flying under the radar, so they can’t be written off – although the loss of Paul Gallen to injury is a blow.

The Roosters-Sea Eagles clash on Monday night will be a cracker and both teams would fancy their chances.

The Roosters got the Sea Eagles 16-4 on a Monday night at Brookvale Oval in Round 9 – even after having prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves sent off.

Waerea-Hargreaves returns from suspension for the Roosters and prior to his ban he was arguably the best player running around in the NRL.

The Sea Eagles are expected to welcome back fullback Brett Stewart, so splitting both teams is no easy task.

The Roosters are favourites, but the loss of five-eighth James Maloney to injury is a blow.

Both sides last played the Bulldogs.

The Roosters escaped with a two point win, while the Sea Eagles suffered a two point loss in golden point.

AFL – Round 14

Well, we got the Bombers over the line against the Eagles, but only just.

There’s a host of other games that will keep punters nervous before they finally lodge their tips.

The Swans are missing Adam Goodes, but back at home following a shock road loss at the hands of the Power they should get the cash against the Blues.

The Blues played OK against the Hawks a fortnight ago, however they would be the first to admit that the Swans at the SCG is an ominous assignment.

The Suns-Crows match on the Gold Coast is likely to be a ripper contest, however many experts argue that the Suns are more chance of making the finals compared to the Crows.

The Suns have been great at home this year and were far from disgraced when they faced the Bombers in Melbourne, while the Crows were appalling in their past two games against the Swans and Tigers.

The Crows are 4-0 against the Suns and go into the match as favourites, but the Suns are a definite chance on this occasion.

The Power are buoyant after toppling the Swans last week, but the Magpies have a fantastic record on the road and will take some stopping when they arrive in Adelaide.

It’s seventh (Magpies) aganinst eighth (Power), so with that in mind the Power might just give the Magpies a run for their money.

Should the Power win they are capable of making the finals.

In contrast, the Magpies can be written off as a premiership threat if they lose regardless if they make the finals.

The Demons might fancy their chances against the Bulldogs, but you’d be a brave man to take the battling Dees.

The Bulldogs should win, but they would want to improve after an inept display against the Tigers last weekend.

Bulldogs pair Will Minson and Ryan Griffen pose a major threat for the Demons.

The Cats have been waiting a while to extract revenge on the Dockers following their defeat in the elimination final at the MCG last year.

The Cats have an outstanding home record, but the Dockers are flying and are more than a decent chance.

The Cats are the second highest scoring side in the AFL, while the Dockers boast the best defence.

Second place on the ladder is on the line for the winner.

Steve Johnson is a huge loss for the Cats, while the Dockers are missing Michael Barlow and David Mundy.

A game under lights at Skilled Stadium might take some getting used to as far as the Dockers are concerned, so perhaps it might be wise to stick with the Cats.

It might be easier to settle on winners come Sunday.

The Lions would be on a high after rolling the Cats last weekend, but they may find it tough going to overcome the rampant Hawks in Launceston.

The Kangaroos were abysmal against the Dockers last weekend and as fate would have it they have the chance to bounce back to winning ways when they play host to the Giants in Melbourne.

The Tigers are on a roll and despite losing the services of ruckman Ivan Maric they should account for the Saints.

The Tigers looked great against the Bulldogs last weekend, while the Saints experienced few problems against the Demons.

The Tigers got the Saints by 17 points in Round 2, but since then the Tigers’ stocks have soared and the Saints have battled for consistency.

Super Rugby – Week 18

We here in Australia are enjoying the Test series between the Wallabies and the Lions, but it’s back to business for the teams from New Zealand and South Africa at a Super Rugby level.

The Chiefs, Bulls and Crusaders are heading for the finals and should prove too good for the Hurricanes, Kings and Highlanders, respectively.

The Highlanders might just give some cheek in Dunedin, but in all honesty a Crusaders loss would come as a shock.

It’s the last roll of the dice for the Blues when they take on the Sharks in Durban.

The Blues will miss the finals if they lose, and overcoming the Sharks will prove no easy task despite the fact that last year’s beaten finalist have parted company with theire coach.

The Stormers are no chance when it comes to making the finals, but start their match against the Cheetahs – who sit in fifth place – as favourites.

The home ground advantage no doubt gives the Stormers a decided advantage, but the Cheetahs remain in the finals race and you would expect them to lift when they arrive in Cape Town.

A Stormers win would not comes as a surprise, but expect the unexpected from the Cheetahs.

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