Warriors v Dragons. 7:30pm Sunday, Suncorp Stadium
It’s Magic Round in the NRL this weekend, with all games being played at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Last night the Sharks and Titans kicked us off, with the Cronulla side coming back from an eight point deficit to win 26-18. But all attention is on tomorrow night’s game between the Warriors and Dragons, with the big question being can the Warriors snap their three game losing streak?
Key storyline: It seems as though teams are committing to a very safety first approach when kicking to the Warriors, happy to bang it into touch and keep it out of the hands of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. It’s meant the Warriors have faced static restarts to their sets, and struggled against the Knights to get any decent field position. Unless they’ve figured out a Plan B, it’ll be another long night for the Warriors.
Will it be sweet or stink? Hate to say it, but it’s hard to see the Warriors pulling this off. Will be sweet to see Kodi Nikorima in the team – however if they lose this on goal kicking then expect a massive backlash next week. Prediction: Dragons by 12
The rest of the round sees the Tigers play the Panthers followed by the Sea Eagles and Broncos tonight. Tomorrow the Bulldogs play the Knights, then the Storm and Eels in the later game. Then Sunday afternoon has the Roosters playing the Raiders, before the round concludes with the Rabbitohs playing the Cowboys.
Blues v Hurricanes, 7:35pm tonight, Eden Park
Round 13 kicks off tonight in Auckland, where the Blues and Hurricanes meet in a pretty important game for both teams.
Key storyline: A big win for the Canes here keeps them within a game of the Crusaders for top spot in the NZ Conference. The only way the Canes can probably win the competition is if they get home ground advantage for the finals, while the Blues will be desperate to keep themselves off the bottom of the table.
Will it be sweet or stink? This is going to be a sweet game, don’t worry about that. Both teams need to score big, so expect a lot of tries from two sides with a lot of exciting All Blacks. Prediction: Canes by 15
Bulls v Crusaders, 5:10am Saturday, Loftus Versfeld
Key storyline: Can the Crusaders secure wins on what’s now a very important trip to South Africa? Last weekend’s draw with the Sharks has put them in the sights of the Canes for first place, but also exposed that without Richie Mo’unga, they are a vastly different team.
Will it be sweet or stink? Well, that’s entirely up to the Bulls. All the South African sides this season just seem to flip a coin before each game to determine whether or not they’ll actually bother to try, but if they so, this will be a tricky assignment for the Crusaders. Prediction: Crusaders by 8
Highlanders v Jaguares, 5:15pm Saturday, Forsyth Barr Stadium
Key storyline: The big man is back! Liam Squire makes his long awaited return to the Highlanders, and not a moment too soon. They’ll be doing it tough for the rest of the season now that Ben Smith is out, but Squire’s big presence will make up for at least a bit of that.
Will it be sweet or stink? This should be pretty fun to watch, Los Jaguares do like to run the ball and there’s no reason why they won’t continue to do so in the best stadium in NZ for exciting rugby. Meanwhile the Highlanders are capable of some stunning tries themselves. Prediction: Highlanders by 6
Chiefs v Sharks, 7:35pm Saturday, Waikato Stadium
Key storyline: Man, spare a thought for the Chiefs’ team doctor, who is hopefully getting paid a lot of overtime right now. Their injury crisis took another lurch this week with Michael Allardice and Lachlan Boshier ruled out, which means that loosies Tyler Ardron and Mitchell Brown have to move into lock.
Will it be sweet or stink? Again, it depends on which Sharks side shows up. Last weekend they almost pulled off the upset of the year when they drew with the Crusaders, but bear in mind this is also a team that got thrashed by Los Jaguares a few weeks back. Prediction: Chiefs by 1
Other games this weekend see the Rebels playing the Reds in Melbourne, the Lions and Waratahs in Johannesburg, and the Brumbies and Sunwolves in Canberra.
ANZ Netball Premiership
The Pulse got the speed wobbles on Monday night, dropping their first game of the year against the second placed Steel. They’ll be wanting to make sure they put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack when they play the Stars this Monday in Wellington, but the only other game of the weekend sees the Magic host the Mystics in Hamilton. It’s veteran Casey Kopua’s last game before retirement, and to honour her the Magic will rename Claudelands Stadium ‘Casey Kopua Arena’ for the match.