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Testing time for punters

The opening rounds of the NRL premiership have been highlighted by endless upsets as punters try to get a gauge on form. How do the Sharks roll the Cowboys in Townsville five days after upsetting the Sea Eagles on Monday night? And how do the Raiders win on the road against the Tigers minus their best attacking player (Josh Dugan) and best defender (Shaun Fensom)?

If you tipped the two winners last Friday night, then you would have fancied your chances at getting the card. Were you aware, though, that Kurt Gidley was going to be a late inclusion for the Knights?

It has been pretty hard to measure up the teams in Super Rugby as well but, unlike the NRL, little has separated teams at fulltime in a majority of the games in 2012. Most games have been decided in the final minutes, which only adds to the stress and excitement.

Last year, tipping winners in the AFL wasn’t all that difficult. However, picking the card in the opening round of the 2012 premiership is no easy task as there is a host of “50/50” games.

The entire planet tipped the Swans against the Giants, and it’s hard to see the Hawks, Demons and Crows losing this weekend. However, the other five games are even money bets, including the Power-Saints clash in Adelaide.

History suggests that the Blues should get the cash, but the Tigers are some chance as their opponents are missing key players.

Settling on a winner in the Dockers-Cats, Kangaroos-Bombers and Bulldogs-Eagles fixtures is no easy task, but don’t feel too bad as most punters will share your anxiety.

Various sporting markets will help you, but when it comes to Round 1 they’re not necessarily using pre-season (NAB Cup) form as a guide. They’re basing their markets on history — simple as that.

Back to the NRL. The Tigers-Rabbitohs match is a toss of the coin, but there is speculation that Benji Marshall could be a scratching from the team who started 2012 as the premiership favourites.

Keep an eagle eye on the betting markets.

The Broncos-Dragons match should be a beauty. However, keep in mind that the Dragons battled to roll a Sea Eagles outfit minus key players. The Storm and Panthers are hosting last-start winners the Knights and Sharks respectively, and cannot afford to take them lightly.

In Super Rugby, three games could go either way.

After ending the unbeaten run of the Highlanders last weekend, the Brumbies will be out to make it back-to-back wins at home against the Sharks,who were desperately unlucky against the Waratahs.

The Force stuck it up against the Reds in Brisbane earlier in the season, so have a golden opportunity to exact revenge in Perth. The WA outfit has a habit of imploding at home when considered a chance, but they played well in Melbourne last weekend. How will the injury-ravaged Reds recover from their hiding against the Bulls in Pretoria?

The Stormers-Bulls clash in Cape Town, which might be a prelude to the 2012 final, should be an epic.

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