The Hunter’s Weekend of Sports – 26 Apr
Tips, Tricks, Picks, and Odds.
What a week of sports. What a weekend to come.
This past week we saw Kyler Murray go first in the NFL Draft, we saw the insane buzzer-beater winner from Lillard send OKC packing, we saw a right-to-the-wire AFL ANZAC match, and we saw the fastest goal in EPL history from Shane Long against Watford – it’s been a wild week for sure.
Luckily for sports fans everywhere, this weekend promises to be just as unrelenting in its sporting action, and I’ve picked out the best of the best for the weekend ahead, so that you won’t be bored for even a second. 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
We start out the weekend with this premier matchup between a title-contender, and a team in desperate need of a win to keep their season alive. The Redfern club travel out West to face Penrith in what is sure to be a decent game of footy.
Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Penrith come into this game having won just two matches this entire season. They have one of the better teams on paper for sure, but the internal turmoil of the Gould saga, coupled with the heightened expectations placed on stars like Maloney and Cleary, has led to an extremely disappointing start to the season for Penrith. They’ll be looking to prove themselves against the genuine title-contender Rabbitohs, to show their fans (and indeed themselves) that they can match with the best.
The Rabbitohs have been, by far, one of the best clubs to start this season, having lost just one match so far in a golden-goal situation up in Manly. They’re heavy favourites to win tonight, and it’s easy to see why. Having won three of their last five against Penrith, the Rabbitohs are definitely a bit of a hoodoo club for this Panthers side. So far this season, Cody Walker and Campbell Graham both lead the competition with 6 tries each, and the Rabbits, as a whole, lead the competition in possession percentage, it’d be tricky for any team to hold their own against this side, and especially one in as much of a rut as the Panthers.
I like this Penrith side, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t see them getting a win against the Rabbitohs in their current position. I definitely think the Panthers will pull up their socks and get a couple wins a few weeks down the track, but for now I have to go with the Rabbits.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Rabbitohs to Win
SATURDAY – EPL
Bright and early on Saturday morning, we get treated to one of the most important games of the EPL season. With just three games remaining, and only one point separating the top two, every single match is crucial for both Liverpool and Man City. If either team stumbles and drops points, it could mean the end of their title hopes.
Liverpool FC v Huddersfield FC
Now, Huddersfield have been absolutely rubbish this season, but this could play in their favour. Liverpool will come into this match completely underestimating their opponents, and they might just pay the price for it. With only three wins all season, I don’t anticipate Huddersfield to walk away with all three points. But, considering they’re already relegated and really have nothing to lose, Huddersfield have the potential to grind out a draw and seriously upset the title-contenders.
Don’t get me wrong, Liverpool should win this. They’ve scored 79 goals to Huddersfield’s 20, they have a younger squad on average at 24.72 (Hudderfield’s 25.32), and are on a 9-game win streak. But I think they’ll walk into this one expecting the three points, and might just get shocked. At $15 odds for a draw, it’s too juicy to not pick that here (Plus you know I’d love to see Liverpool get bumped out of the race by the worst team of the season).
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Liverpool and Huddersfield to Draw
SUNDAY – NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
We finish the weekend up in Boston, where the Bruins host the Bluejackets in an NHL playoff series that is sure to have it all.
Boston Bruins v Columbus Blue Jackets
No one expected Columbus to make it this far, with the wildcard team having to face the NHL-all-time-winningest Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. One historic 4-0 sweep later, and the Bluejackets are into the second round for the first time in franchise history. This will be the second game of the series, after Boston claimed victory in an OT thriller on Friday.
Boston will be desperate to re-establish themselves as a dominant franchise following a few underwhelming playoff runs. If the Bruins go on to win the Stanley Cup, it’ll be the first time in American Sports history that the same city will hold the trophy of 3/4 major sports (and they might just claim the fourth with how well the Celtics have been playing recently). If the Bruins can’t close out against the blue jackets, a lot of questions will be asked of their staff and roster. In the first game, Columbus had 10 less shots, but still managed to send the game to OT, a poor reflection of the Bruins’ defensive and goalie capabilities – it’ll be interesting to see how they clean that up for game two.
I like the Bluejackets, they’re a scrappy underdog performing well above their caliber in the playoffs, and I honestly like them to beat Boston here. The Bruins are a decent team, but with the grit and hustle Columbus have shown so far, they could definitely end up travelling home with an away-win advantage in the series.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Columbus to Win