Sport

The Hunter’s Weekend of Sports – NRL Special

Tips, Tricks, Picks, and Odds.

Looks like Footy’s Back on the Menu.

Grab a pie, pour yourself a bevvie, slip on your jersey, and get ready for a weekend and a half.

After an agonising (and pretty controversy-laden) 182 day wait, the footy is back in town.

Starting with a well-fought bronco and storm battle last night, this NRL season certainly launched with a bang – let’s just hope it doesn’t slow down from here.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m going to do my column a little differently this weekend, with a focus on just NRL, and a tip for every game of the round.

So, without any further ado, let’s get stuck in.

Knights v Sharks 

We kick off our Friday with a game that has the potential to set the tone of the season for these two teams. The Knights have been slowly rebuilding over the past few years, and bolstered by a fit and maturing Ponga, this could be the season that they finally make a finals run. The Sharks, on the other hand, lost Holmes to another “NFL Dream” situation and will be looking to prove their strength as more than a one-man unit come Friday.  The Knights always start their season strongly, and I think they will again here.

The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Knights to Win

Roosters v Rabbitohs 

Friday will get a hell of a lot better when this match starts. One of the NRL’s all-time great rivalries launches the season for these two historic Sydney clubs at the SCG. The reigning Roosters will be looking to start their title-defence against one of last season’s better contenders. If the Rabbitohs’ left attack is anything like last season’s then we’re in for an absolute gem. I couldn’t be more excited for this game.

The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Roosters to Win

Warriors v Bulldogs 

The first trans-Tasman clash of the season will kickstart our Saturday afternoon – as the Warriors face Canterbury at home. RTS will be hunting down a second-straight Dally-M (and is the hot favourite to do so), but without Papali’I in the scrum the Warriors will face a tough challenge in the ever-persistent Bulldogs. I still see them defending their home turf.

The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Warriors to Win

Wests v Manly 

Another two teams with something to prove make up this mid-weekend fixture early on Saturday evening. Des Hasler will be attempting to kick-off his Manly tenure with a result as they travel to the Tigers to play against a team that’s had one of the more gruelling preseason camps. We’ll see if all that hard work will pay off for the Tigers as they look to solidify their home ground as a fortress early in the season. I think the Tigers have really shown they want it this season and will come out guns-blazing on Saturday.

The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Tigers to Win

Cowboys v Dragons 

Beyond the off-field controversies these two teams faced in the offseason, there isn’t really a more polarised match this round than Cowboys and Dragons. The team that finished 4 points from bottom last season haven’t done much to try to turn the tide for this season – they’ll have to hope the De Belin scandal has the Dragons distracted enough for them to sneak a win here (A very unlikely outcome). The Dragons were a force to be reckoned with at the start of last season, and are probably going to be a similar story this year if they can get past the off-field dramas.

The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Dragons to Win

Panthers v Eels 

4pm on a Sunday is a pretty fitting time for this bottom-of-the-barrel game. Last year’s wooden spooners haven’t shown much interest in flipping their fortunes for this season, and Penrith will be far too distracted by scandal after scandal after scandal to have a proper focus on this game. If you’re looking for a game to sit-out of this round, I’d recommend this one. Still, the Panthers have the quality to contend reasonably well this season, and if they can put their offseason dramas behind them they have the chance to come out strong this round.

The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Panthers to Win

Titans v Raiders 

I’ll say it now, I think that both of these teams have the potential to surprise a lot of people this season. Both are teams from more isolated markets – meaning more dedicated fans – and both have had relatively distraction-free off-seasons. Both teams showed serious promise at the back end of last year, and with relatively young cores that will only mature with time, I think both have the potential to do some damage this season and in the coming years. With that being said, I think the Raiders are a bit more put-together for now and should take this game relatively uncontested.

The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Raiders to Win

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