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NRL clash full of intrigue

6-Bulldogs v 2-Sea Eagles: Bulldogs coach Des Hasler faces his old team and it’s hard to see either club taking a backward step. The Bulldogs were far from disgraced against the Storm a fortnight ago, but remarkably the Sea Eagles crashed at home to the Titans. Will the Stewarts and Foran play for Manly?

 

2-Broncos v 15-Titans: There have been some classic matches between both clubs at Suncorp, with Darren Lockyer having inspired the Broncos to victory in golden point a few times. The Broncos are flying and welcome back Wallace, but the Titans will be fired up after stunning the Sea Eagles at Brookvale.

 

12-Rabbitohs v 5-Cowboys: The Rabbitohs started slowly in Auckland last start and were crunched 44-12 by the Warriors. The Cowboys stunned the Roosters in the first half to lead 28-0 at halftime before prevailing 50-12. The Rabbitohs are a little thin in the forwards, while the Cowboys boast arguably the best pack in the NRL – especially with Tariq Sims back on deck.

 

10-Raiders v 3-Sharks: The Sharks are aiming for their sixth straight win for the first time since 2002, but it won’t be easy against a Raiders outfit who blitzed the Warriors when they last played a day game at home. How will Raiders halves Williams and McCrone cope against Sharks halves Carney and Robson?

 

16-Eels v 13-Tigers: There was a time when the Tigers just couldn’t beat the Eels, but the ascendancy appears to be with the Tigers these days. The Eels pushed the Knights and Sharks in their last two games on the road and will fancy their chances at home, while the Tigers gave the Broncos a run for their money before smashing the Panthers 30-0 on the road two weeks ago.

 

9-Knights v 14-Panthers: The injury-riddled Panthers have been awful of late – they failed to score a point with two 30-0 defeats, away to an under-manned Sea Eagles and at home to the Tigers. The Knights should prove too good at home with Gidley, not Mason, leading the way.

 

 

AFL (Round 5)

 

 

6-Dockers v 4-Blues: It’s a toss of the coin. The loss of Sandilands is a blow for the Dockers, while the Blues were brought back down to earth when the Bombers made them look second rate. The Dockers were fantastic against the Saints in Melbourne, but the likes of Judd, Murphy, Kreuzer and Waite spell danger.

 

18-Giants v 15-Bulldogs: Unlike the Giants, the Bulldogs have experienced Manuka Oval in the past. The Giants won a lot of fans with their competitive showing against the Crows in Adelaide last weekend, while the Bulldogs finally cracked it for a win against the Demons. The return of Lake makes the Bulldogs’ task that much easier.

 

9-Kangaroos v 17-Suns: Even with Ablett on deck, the Kangaroos would still win. The only difference is that the Kangaroos should win by more than 39 points instead of under 39 points. The Kangaroos are out for redemption after a poor effort against the Swans on the road, while the Suns wilted badly against Lions after scaring the life out of the Bombers.

 

16-Demons v 8-Saints: It would come as a huge shock if the Saints lost, but the winless Demons won’t lie down after a solid showing against the Bulldogs last weekend. The Demons may struggle to kick a score without Clark. In contrast, Riewoldt could kick a bag for the Saints unless the Demons work hard in defence.

 

12-Lions v 11-Cats: Can the Lions lift for Black’s 300th game? The Cats have won nine of the past 10 games against the Lions and welcome back Scarlett, who is capable of nullifying Brown. The Lions will give some cheek, no doubt, but the Cats have too much class at both ends of the field and in the midfield.

 

10-Hawks v 2-Swans: The unbeaten Swans are playing terrific football, but certainly face a stern test in Launceston. The Hawks have posted impressive wins against the Magpies and Crows in the dry, and were pipped at the post by the Cats and Eagles in the wet. The Swans welcome back Goodes, but Hodge looks set to return for the Hawks.

 

13-Tigers v 1-Eagles: Two years ago, Riewoldt kicked 10 goals against the Eagles. If he repeats that effort, then the Tigers are a chance. However, the Eagles are in great nick and the Tigers may find them too slick. But in last week’s road match against the Cats, the Tigers kept in touch all day to indicate that an upset win is a distinct possibility.

 

5-Crows v 14-Power: Picking the winner of this match has never been an easy task. The Crows are favourites, but treat the Power with respect. The Crows have only beaten the Suns, Bulldogs and Giants, and were belted by the Hawks. The Power toppled the Saints before suffering honourable defeats at the hands of the Bombers, Saints and Magpies.

 

 

Super Rugby  (Round 10)

 

15-Blues v 10-Reds: Both teams met in a semi-final last season, but how times have changed. Hard to believe that the Blues have won only one game – and that was the road against the Bulls. Injuries have cruelled the Reds, and as champions they’re unlikely to make the finals. Surely the Blues can win a game at home, especially after losing a heart-breaker against the Highlanders in Dunedin last weekend.

 

14-Lions v 3-Brumbies: The Lions triumphed in the opening round when they snuck home against the visiting Cheetahs. Since then they haven’t fired a shot, but injuries haven’t helped. The Brumbies were tremendous against the Bulls last weekend and were unlucky not to get the cash. On that basis, the Brumbies, who are definitely flying under the radar, should head home with a win under their belt.

 

1-Chiefs v 8-Hurricanes: They’re back from South Africa, but the Chiefs will be aiming for an eighth straight win when they host the unpredictable Hurricanes. It’s hard to fault any aspect of the Chiefs’ game and they’re clearly the team to beat in 2012. It’s hard to get a line on the Hurricanes. One day their white hot, the next they’re stone cold.

 

12-Force v 2-Stormers: The Stormers have been a force on their Australasian sojourn, having rolled the Highlanders and Reds, as well as incurring a narrow loss at the hands of the Crusaders. Quite simply, they should be too good for the Force, who take the field for the first time since coach Richard Graham was punted following a player revolt after signing for the Reds.

 

11-Cheetahs v 5-Highlanders: The Cheetahs won’t make the finals, but they have matched the opposition in virtually every game they have played. The Highlanders have enjoyed a wonderful season thus far and cannot be written off, but it will prove tough going if the Cheetahs click.

 

7-Waratahs v 6-Crusaders: The Crusaders have won four of their past five games, so a finals push is well and truly in full swing. The Waratahs have won their last two games, but they had to battle before sinking the Force and Rebels. The Crusaders are a different kettle of fish and seem to have the Waratahs covered all over the park. The return of McCaw doesn’t help the Waratahs either.

 

 

 

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