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Home teams favoured in Super Rugby — but NRL, AFL tricky

NRL – Round 19
Only six games this weekend, but if you can get the winner of the Tigers-Warriors and Panthers-Knights games you may end up getting the card.
The Tigers are incredibly hard to beat at Leichhardt Oval and edged out the Warriors 24-22 at the venue last year when the New Zealand outfit seemingly had the match in the bag.
It has been a tumultuous week for the Tigers following the Benji Marshall saga, so in a game that could go either way the Warriors, who have been in super form of late, may get the cash on this occasion.
The Panthers have won six of their past eight games and will prove hard to beat at home, while the Knights have won their past two games after a poor run of form.
It’s hard to work out what these two teams are going to bring to the table and the Knights start the match as a slight favourite.
The Knights haven’t exactly set the world on fire on the road this season, so tipping them to win at Penrith is a risk.
However, the Panthers have their injury concerns and Beau Scott returns for the Knights, so maybe it’s the Novocastrians.
A word of warning though – the Panthers are one of the form teams in the competition.
The Raiders will beat the Eels, the Roosters – minus Sonny Bill Wiliams – will get the Sharks, who may struggle without Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis, and the Sea Eagles backline should cause the Titans plenty of problems, although the Gold Coast boys won at Brookvale last year.
The Dragons can make the finals, so long as they win every one of the last eight games.
Won’t happen.
They face a Rabbitohs side who have not only won their past six games, but who sit on top of the ladder and are the premiership favourites.
Greg Inglis is a big loss for the Rabbitohs, however they should prevail against a team whom they defeated back in 1971 when last they won the premiership.
AFL – Round 17
Here’s the good news.
The Hawks will overcome the Bulldogs, the Bombers will eclipse the Giants, the Magpies will topple the Suns, the Lions will account for the Demons, and the Cats will take some stopping against the Crows.
So that means that there’s four other games that can genuinely go either way.
The Kangaroos were awful against the Dockers in Perth three weeks ago before bouncing back to cream the Tigers at Etihad Stadium.
Well, the Kanagroos stole defeat from the jaws of victory against the Lions last weekend, but in their defence injuries cruelled their hopes at the end of the day.
The Blues had a great win over the Saints last weekend, however they have lost eight of their past 10 games against the Kangaroos.
Perhaps it’s the Kangaroos, but the Blues won’t lie down.
How will the Eagles and Dockers back up after their Western Derby?
History suggests they are ripe for the picking the following week.
The Dockers got the Tigers by a point in Perth in Round 5, but on this occasion they play the first of only two games at the MCG this season before the finals.
The Tigers haven’t beaten a member of the top seven all season, so it’s a huge game for them and they do return from a long trip to Cairns.
The Tigers are a narrow favourite according to the bookies, but the difference between both teams at this stage is that the Dockers are a genuine premiership contender.
Now you’ve got to try and split the Saints and Power at Etihad Stadium.
The Power, who enter the match as favourites, have lost their past eight games at Etihad Stadium, so with that in mind the Saints are a chance.
The Saints are no chance of making the finals, while the Power still sit in eighth spot.
If Saints can keep it together in defence they’re some chance because they have the forwards and midfielders to cause the Power problems.
The Power have lost Kane Cornes, who may have matched up on Lenny Hayes, but boast a handy midfield and the likes of Westhoff, Butcher and Schulz pose a threat in front of goal.
If the Power, who have been super competitive against the top teams this year, can’t get the Saints then perhaps they don’t deserve a spot in the top eight come September.
The Swans clocked the Eagles by 52 points when last they travelled to Perth, but you could argue that the Eagles are a better side these days.
The Eagles have lost three of their past five games, but up until last week’s loss to the Dockers they had proven to be stiff opposition.
The Swans just keep on winning and they have seemingly found an extra spark following a shock loss at ther hands of the Power in Adelaide recently.
The Swans lift for games like this, but it’s desperate stakes for the Eagles and a loss may end their hopes of making the finals once and for all.
The premiers are a very warm favourite, but at $2.70 in a two horse race you’d be crazy to dismiss the Eagles so easily.
Super Rugby – Finals (Week 1)
Amazingly, neither the Crusaders and Reds or Brumbies and Cheetahs have opposed each other in 2013.
Makes it a bit tricky then to line the teams up for the qualifying finals.
The Crusaders are peaking at the right time of the season and are capable of making it yet another Super Rugby title.
The Reds boast an amazing record against New Zealand opposition this season, but facing the Crusaders in a sudden death final is no easy assignment.
Anything is possible, but you get the feeling Ewen McKenzie will be coaching the Reds for the last time come Saturday.
The home ground advantage should be enough to get the Brumbies over the line against the Cheetahs, but a shocking loss in Perth at the hands of the Force a week before the finals gives the Cheetahs hope.
The Cheetahs had the bye last weekend, so they’ve had two weeks to prepare for the game following a home win against the Blues when last they took to the field.
The Brumbies should bounce back in chilly Canberra, but when the Cheetahs toured Australasia earlier this season they were annihilated by the Chiefs before posting wins against the Highlanders, Waratahs and Force.

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