THE Sharks kick off against the Bulls in the late game at 7.10 pm tonight and it looks the most important game of the weekend with the two teams playing the most important game of their season. Both teams have failed to put 80minute performances together throughout the season. The Bulls led the Rebels by 37 points at half-time last week and in the second half the Rebels managed to keep the score down to a seven-point draw, which put a question mark against the South African team. The Sharks have done much the same this season and if you include the Stormers last week — who led by a mile against the Chiefs and then lost by seven points with the Stormers only scoring three points in the second half — it seems South African sides fail to concentrate for 80 minutes and none seem to have a Plan B when Plan A goes wrong. The bookmakers have made this a one-point handicap game in favour of the Sharks and with neither team being consistent I will not be financially involved but will watch with interest an absorbing game, which could cost the losers a place in the playoffs. In this morning’s early game at 9.35 am, the Crusaders will be looking to get their season back on track with a home victory over the Chiefs. Although suffering heavily with injuries, I think the Crusaders represent a maximum bet with only a ninepoint handicap on their home field. At 11.40 am, the Waratahs host the Lions and after last week’s impressive victory I am surprised to see the Lions with a 15-point start in the handicap system. I think the Lions could put 20 points on the board, which means the Waratahs would have to score 36 points to win in the handicap system, and the Lions look a fair bet with that huge start. At 2.05 pm the Western Force host the Brumbies and I would rather give my money to charity than have a bet in this fixture. At 5.05 pm, the Cheetahs, who we tipped in this column last week because they had an 11-point start with the bookmakers, host the Rebels. The Rebels have no chance of beating the muchimproved Cheetahs but with a big 17-point handicap I only recommend a small bet on the home side.
In the English Premier League it’s all eyes on the relegation and four games will decide who stays up and who goes down with West Ham. Only one point separates five teams and the goal difference from 19th position to 16th position ranges between -19 and -22. Black Pool look most likely to go down even if they manage a draw. The bookmakers have gone short at 2-1 the draw when Wolves host Blackburn, and both sides could survive with that result. Birmingham look to have the toughest game when they travel to Spurs and I can’t see Birmingham getting a point from this game, which means they will be sweating on Wigan not winning at Stoke. Should Wigan get a draw it would then come down to goal difference, with Birmingham depending on how much their losing margin is against Spurs. With all games starting at the same time on Sunday, it should be exciting to see how this battle pans out and the only bet I would recommend is victories for Spurs and Wigan, in what looks a tough programme.