The Hunter’s Weekend of Sports – 27 Sep
Tips, Tricks, Picks and Odds.
Footy, footy and more footy.
It’s a big weekend of footy coming up be that league, union or Aussie Rules – all with finals, prelims and World Cups all on the menu. There’s more juicy games than I count count on two hands, but I’ve picked out three of the best for you, my loyal readers, and I’m keen to get stuck in.
As always in this column, I’ll explore what Australians can look forward to in this weekend 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
On Friday, two of the best teams in the competition duke it out in chilly Canberra in a do-or-die clash for a spot in the Grand Final. The Raiders will host the Rabbitohs at GIO for a match that’s bound to go right to the wire, and is sure to be full of big hits and bigger plays.
Canberra Raiders v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Canberra come into this match with the hope of several fan bases on their shoulders. Arguably the most-liked team in the competition, the Raiders have become the de-facto team that many hope will win when their team is knocked out (just see Betoota’s hot-take on it) and it’s easy to understand why. Their home-grown style of footy, and overall resilience year after year is a refreshing difference in a league that seems full of brutish cookie-cutter squads. Canberra are heavy favourites in this match, despite losing by four last time the sides met at GIO, and it’ll be interesting to see whether they can justify the low odds the bookies have given them to take this one.
The visiting side are a team that, since their finals success earlier this decade, have always come so close, but so far. The South Sydney Rabbitohs will be desperate to make another finals appearance and will likely be hoping beyond hope that they can make it happen on Friday night. Historically, this has been a pretty tight fixture, with the Rabbitohs claiming four of the past nine matches between the two teams.
Home advantage seemed to mean very little in previous iterations of this matchup, but with a sold-out GIO and Canberra’s faithful yearning for another finals appearance (after such a drought), I think it might have a part to play on Friday. Ultimately, I think it’ll be a close game, decided in the last 10-minutes or so – but Canberra will be willed home by the enthusiasm of their crowd.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Raiders to Win
SATURDAY – AFL
The biggest day in the sporting calendar for a number of fans around Australia is this Saturday when the MCG will, once more, fill to the brim as the AFL looks to crown another winner. This year, the final battle will be between the league’s newest club and its club with the richest history.
GWS Giants v Richmond Tigers
The Giants will make their finals debut at the MCG on Saturday, a relatively impressive feat for a club that entered the league less than a decade ago. When compared to Richmond’s 134 year history, GWS are just an infant and yet here they are – one game away from winning it all.
GWS’ road to the final hasn’t been pretty. They only managed to scrape into the finals equation at all with a very mediocre sixth placing in the league. After demolishing the Bulldogs in their first knockout, they faced a tough test at the Gabba, edging Brisbane by a mere three points. Last weekend, they faced the tough test of Collingwood at the MCG and where lucky to claim another single digit victory with a four-point win over the Pies. But, of course, doing it again at the MCG, in front of the Richmond faithful, is quite possibly the most difficult task ever asked of the club.
Richmond’s path to the finals has been a far simpler task. After finishing third in the league, the Lions were no match for them in the first finals game and even league-premiers, Geelong, seemed like a relatively easy opponent when the Tigers locked in. The Tigers have very well justified being the favourites for this final and are just one more win from claiming another title.
GWS are one of the most physically dominant teams in the competition and have redefined the pace of the footy being played in the league this year. But, at the end of the day, I can’t see them doing it against Richmond. The MCG crowd will be too much and when the klaxon rings, I have a feeling we’ll all be singing Tigerland.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Richmond to Win
SUNDAY – Rugby World Cup
The Rugby World Cup has just kicked off and already we’ve seen some absolutely stellar performances from Uruguay’s history-making upset of the Fijians, to the All-Blacks’ calculated demolishment of the Springboks – it’s already shaping up to be an excellent tournament.
Australia v Wales
On Sunday, the Wallabies will finally be met with a good match as they take on the Welsh in Tokyo. This is a game guaranteed to give fans 80-minutes of heart-racing action and it’s honestly difficult to pick who’ll come out on top.
The Wallabies started their campaign very strongly with a convincing win over the Fijians, but the impressiveness of that win has been undermined somewhat by the Fijian performance against the Uruguayans a couple of days later. A win against the Welsh will prove once and for all that the Wallabies mean business and could honestly go miles in ensuring the Wallabies make it out of their pool.
Of course, Wales won’t exactly be an easy target. As recently as a month ago they were considered the best team in the world by the IRB (knocking the All Blacks down a peg after a reign that spanned almost a decade). While Wales’ reign over the world was short-lived, it was still an important step in the team’s history – and they’re more likely than ever to take home the Webb-Ellis.
So who will take out this game (and probably the pool)? Despite their out-of-character Bledisloe win leading up to the cup, I can’t see the Wallabies claiming this one. Wales have one of the best scrum packs in the game and their backs aren’t half bad either. The Wallabies will put up a good fight, but I see Wales running away with it in the last 20-minutes.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Wales to Win