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Five big weekend predictions

Friday, May 03, 2013 - 7:00 AM
Source: SportsFan
Author: Ben Hocking, Bradley Dawson, Daniel Ramus and Barnaby Smith

1. Cats put the Tigers in their place

After the Tigers' consecutive failures against genuine finals aspirants the media slathering over a Richmond resurgence has calmed, allowing a host of nasty facts about the yellow-and-black boys to become clear. Under sustained close-checking pressure too many Tigers panic and simply throw the ball on their boot. Dustin Martin is still nowhere near fit enough to run out games. Alex Rance is courageous, but one of the more overrated players in the competition; and Brett Deledio still can't cope with being tagged. Richmond's inability to hold on in the close ones won't be an issue at the MCG on Saturday night - expect a red-hot, hard-at-it Geelong to smash the Tigers in the clearances and tackles and run out easy winners. Cats by 30-plus points. - BD

2. Wigan keep hope alive

With both Reading and Queens Park Rangers already doomed to relegation there is only one spot in the English Premier League drop zone left, and Wigan face a huge challenge to stay up. The Latics are currently five points away from safety in 17th spot and at first glance a trip away against eighth-placed West Bromwich Albion seems like a doomsday scenario. One important factor is the reality that West Brom have so little to play for. It is highly unlikely they will climb higher than their current position, being six points behind Liverpool in seventh, and they are also unlikely to drop a position, holding a six-point buffer over the teams behind. With the motivation of staying the only club in English football to have never been relegated from the top-flight competition, Wigan should be able to snatch an unlikely win and at least keep their hopes alive for one more week. - BH

3. Knights to put 50 on Sharks

Cronulla showed alarming signs against Canterbury that they're not handling the ongoing ASADA investigation at all well. The Sharks bombed tries that should have been elementary finishes for any NRL team and it would be naïve to think that it was simply a bad day at the office– no doubt there was much more to it. Cronulla has lost their last four matches and it doesn't get any easier this week as they travel to Newcastle to meet the fifth-placed Knights, who have won their last two, including a 30-6 victory over the Titans last start. On Sunday, expect the home side to rack up a half-century against Cronulla, whose minds are elsewhere at the moment. - DR

4. Tander takes his first win of the year

With V8 Supercar race wins spreading out over the field this year, as opposed to the Triple Eight and Ford Performance Racing benefit that occurred in 2012, predicting race results has suddenly become more difficult. It isn't yet a case where anyone can win, but the field is definitely more competitive. There is one driver who is yet to taste victory this season and who would love to greet the chequered flag first at his home event – Garth Tander. The West Australian-born HRT driver is the only driver in the top seven who is yet to win a race and he hasn't tasted victory at Barbagallo since he took a clean sweep of the event in 2007. We're not sure about his chance of taking a clean sweep this weekend but we reckon he should be good for at least one race win and he may even push into the top three of the championship. - BH

5. Brumbies too good for Crusaders

It doesn’t take too much to knock over the Force at present, but nevertheless the Brumbies' 41-7 breeze on Saturday perhaps confirms that their mid-season wobbles (the draw with the Kings, the loss to the Stormers) are over. The strangely poor Crusaders, defeated by the Force in round nine, again struggled against a weak Australian franchise in their 30-26 win over the Rebels last weekend.  Even if Dan Carter starts for the Crusaders, Jake White's astute Brumbies game-plan should be too much for an outfit struggling to find the rhythm or intensity to challenge the Blues or Chiefs this year. The Brumbies' outstanding back three has the potential to wreak havoc against these inconsistent, ill-disciplined New Zealanders, while we can expect George Smith to have the sort of game that makes it impossible for him to miss the Lions series, facing as he does an All Black-rich opposing forward pack. The Brumbies by 10-15 points. - BS

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