The Hunter’s Weekend of Sports – 10 May
Tips, Tricks, Picks, and Odds.
It’s time for a bit of magic…
This weekend promises to be one of the most exciting in recent sporting memory.
We kicked off last night with the first game of the inaugural magic-round (an English Superleague concept that sees every game of a weekend played in the one venue), and it was a great start to what should be an awesome weekend. The sharks trumped the titans in an 80min thriller that set the tone for the weekend to come. Add on to that the NBA and NHL playoffs, as well as the end to one of the closest title races in premier league history, and you have all the ingredients for an epic weekend of sports. Not to mention the epic week we just had – I’m not even going to talk about those two champion’s league semi-finals, I’m still speechless from the results.
As always in this column, I’ll explore what Australians can look forward to in this week of sports – focusing on a different sport for each day – and provide the tips that I feel most confident in based on my research, analysis, and expert intuition.
FRIDAY – NRL (Magic Round)
We start out our weekend in the beautiful Bris-Vegas, where the inaugural magic round for the NRL kicked off last night. Over 300 footy players, their coaches, their staff and their fans have descended on the river city for a unique weekend where every match of the round will be played in the one stadium. Suncorp is one of the best rugby stadiums in the world, and this weekend promises to be full of non-stop action.
Manly Sea-Eagles v Brisbane Broncos
On Friday, the hosts of the event (Broncos) will take on Manly in a game that’s sure to have Suncorp filled to the brim. The Broncos are a team in desperate need of a win, with the inner turmoil of the club reaching all-time highs after their embarrassing display at Souths last weekend. With injuries, form-slumps from last season’s best players (I’m looking at you Isaako) and contract sagas galore, the one thing that the Broncos need is a good run of form. And what better place to kick it off than at Suncorp stadium, in one of the biggest weekends of footy this country has ever seen?
Of course, the Sea-Eagles will have other ideas. Hasler has coached this team to a point where they’re far exceeding everyone’s expectations, even with an injured DCE and Trbojevic brother. Coming off of very impressive wins against the Bulldogs and the Raiders, the Eagles have shown that they won’t just lie down and take the punches like the last few seasons – they’re here to deal some blows of their own.
Come Friday, as much as I love the Broncos, I think the drama of the last few weeks has poisoned the locker room to a point where I can’t visualise them winning much at all in the foreseeable future. Manly should be a good force on Friday, and I think the Broncos will add another tick to the losses column.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Sea-Eagles to Win
SATURDAY – MLB
Over to America now, where the baseball season is in now in full swing (pun intended). We have a primetime match between two of the better teams in the league, to start out a three-game series which could prove critical in the final standings for these two clubs.
Redsox v Mariners
The Mariners come into this game desperate to reclaim the form they showed in their first games of the season. Before winning against the Yankees on Wednesday night, they had dropped eight of their nine previous games in a form slump that no one saw coming. Fortunately for the Mariners, their early season prowess and dominance mean they’re still on a healthy 20 and 19 record, which puts them three games behind Houston in the AL West, and tied for a wildcard spot with the Indians. They’ll be hoping to get back to their winning ways with a sweep of the sox, and get their season heading back in the direction of the deep playoff run we all thought they’d do.
The team standing in their way are the (reigning champion) Boston Redsox. Who, despite a bit of early season inconsistency, find themselves sitting on a decent 19-19 record, and in third spot in the AL East. In all fairness to Boston, their division is stacked this season, with Tampa and New York both looking like title contenders in and of themselves. But, on a good day, the Redsox have the talent to take it to any team and should be definitely competing for that top position. Boston has won eight of their last ten on their way to trying to reclaim the division, and are looking promising, but first, they have to get past Seattle.
Both teams have some of the most talented offences in the league and as a result, I think this is a game that’ll come down to the prowess and composure of the starting pitchers. Swason (SEA) is 1-3 where Rodriguez (SOX) is 3-2, but wins do not maketh the pitcher, and Swanson actually has a far smaller ERA (by .46). I think Swanson’s RHP should put him in a good position against the Sox hitters, so (despite form arguing to the contrary) I have to pick Seattle here.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Seattle to Win
SUNDAY – EPL
I’m going to do this one a little bit differently.
Because it’s the last game of the season, and because the title race is so damn close; instead of focusing on one game for Sunday – I’m going to dive into two.
Liverpool v Wolverhampton and Manchester City v Brighton
Liverpool and Manchester City come into their respective games with just one point between them on the ladder – in what has shaped up to be the closest finish in EPL history. Any result that isn’t a win for either of these teams promises to have serious repercussions on their league standing. The games will be played at the same time, so the stakes are high, and the tension is higher.
Manchester City host the Brighton Seagulls in a must-win fixture for the sky blues. The last time the EPL title race came down to the last game was in the 2013/14 season, where Man City edged Liverpool with a win on the last day. Here, they’ll be hoping history repeats itself with a win against Brighton. Now, for a team like City, Brighton should be a walk in the park. But with so much on the line, who knows what’ll happen on game day? City are heavy favourites to win, and honestly, I can understand why. The Gulls barely survived the drop this year, and City have been in an impeccable form on their way to claiming what is currently the second highest EPL points total. Barring some unforeseen miracle, City should walk away with all three points here.
Liverpool face Wolverhampton at Anfield in what could become one of the most important games in club history (with the exception, maybe, of that 4-goal comeback against Barca on Wednesday). If Man City drop any points against the gulls (an unlikely, but not impossible, scenario) the door will be left open for Liverpool to get the three at home and claim the cup on the final day. If City don’t drop any points, Liverpool will have scored the third highest points total in EPL history – and still not have claimed their maiden title. The Wolves are a hard team to beat and have made a name for themselves as giant killers this season. With a tired team after Wednesday, and looking to conserve some energy before the Champion’s League final, Liverpool might just slip up here – and with it see their title hopes fall through the cracks.
As a neutral, this is shaping up to be one of the more exciting EPL finishes, and I’ll just be keen to watch the action (no matter who wins). I do, however, see City claiming all three points against the gulls and walking away with the title. Even if City don’t end up winning the game, the Wolves will be a tough challenge for Liverpool, and they too could drop points in a cruel twist of fate. The title is definitely City’s to lose come Sunday night.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Manchester City to Win the Title