Day 1 The Championships







1. Prized Icon, 2. Gingernuts, 3. Inference, 4. Jon Snow

Kiwi pair look best of the quartet.



1. Chautauqua, 6. Fell Swoop, 7. Spieth, 12. English

Can the old boy win 3rd TJ? I think so.



1. Hauraki, 2. Le Romain, 5. Happy Clapper, 19. Spectroscope

Doncaster for the ages. Great contest coming up.



6. Fallacy, 8. La Chatte, 9. Baysa, 13. Matron Wilson

Different formlines, wet track – anyone’s guess

*Prices Subject to Change



Solid fields







1. Kaniana, 2. Catch A Fire, 5. Jalan Jalan, 10. Quilate

Hard pressed to tip against these.



1. Burning Front, 2. He Or She, 9. Tarquin

Should only need 3 here.



2. Achi Baba, 3. Sword Of Light, 5. Milwaukee, 9. Kazio

Can Godolphin cap a big day here?



1. Magnapal, 2. Lord Durante, 4. Haradafull, 11. Pay Up Bro.

This quartet appear the best.

*Prices Subject to Change






The main racing on Saturday in Queensland will be at Doomben. Plenty of wet weather around as you know and the track is an absolute bog. Sun has been trying to shine but to no avail.

Rail Position: is out 3.5m all way
Track Condition: rates a heavy 10

Race 1 – Open 2YO 1050m

Date: 1/4
Time: 12:27pm
Location: Doomben

Enormous amount of speed in this. All 4 winners led all way to win their races. NICK’S REWARD was one of them and he did it in style. The rails draw a big plus. STARENA on the other hand, likes to settle midfield and rattle home. That works here with all the pace. COOROI CHASE won only public appearance, a barrier trial in grand style. Should be hard to beat.

The Early Crows Top Tip: COOROI CHASE

Race 2 – Open BM 75 2200m

Date: 1/4
Time: 1:02pm
Location: Doomben

MARGIN TRADER has now raced 4 times this prep and deserves top weight. Won well 2 back and is in this up to his eye balls. MR LEBROCK is a dour staying type so trip and heavy, heavy track make him tough to beat. Will just keep plugging away while SPIRIT OF KIOWA has won through the grades, winning 3 of past 5 and deserves a shot at these. Can place.

The Early Crows Top Tip: MR LEBROCK

Race 3 – Open Class 3 Plate 1615m

Date: 1/4
Time: 1:40pm
Location: Doomben

BRONZED VENOM has strung a little 3-strong picket fence together. Has been faultless this time up and Plate conditions suit here. CHARCUTERIE doesn’t win out of turn, in fact doesn’t win very often at all, but is honest and will run you a good race. PINOLINO is as honest as the day is wet in Qld. Will again be right in the frame.

The Early Crows Top Tip: BRONZED VENOM

Race 4 – Open hcp 1615m

Date: 1/4
Time: 2:22pm
Location: Doomben

SIR MOMENTS is best credentialed horse in the race but big weight will hurt. Is fit now and ready to run a blinder. TOO GOOD TOO REFUSE under the hcp conditions appeals the most. Has talent and looks well placed. DANCE OF HEROES ran 3rd this grade last start indicating he’s back. Big show.

The Early Crows Top Tip: TOO GOOD TO REFUSE

Race 5 – OPEN HCP 1050M

Date: 1/4
Time: 3:02pm
Location: Doomben

HARD STRIDE was solid this company last start. Jock is in great form and weight relief makes him very appealing. Big show. LADRETTO is resuming here but working along beautifully. Was well up to these when last in work. Mount NEBO is the class here despite big weight. And he’s a natural born swimmer who should blouse these in the mud.

The Early Crows Top Tip: MOUNT NEBO

Race 6 – BM 75 1615m

Date: 1/4
Time: 3:42pm
Location: Doomben

CARRY ON JAKE has struck a purple patch of form winning 4 of past 6 including this company last start. Weight relief for in form apprentice a huge help on this shifty track today. SLYDINI is talented but gets back and has to rush home. Gives all the impressions this will suit this time. OLD SMOKEY was terrific first up last start. This is harder but he’s back better than ever. Place.

The Early Crows Top Tip: SLYDINI

Race 7 – Class 6 Hcp 1350m

Date: 1.4
Time: 4:22pm
Location: Doomben

Very strong Class 6 field this. EMPHASIS is the class but has bad barrier and is resuming…oh and has top weight. No surprise, despite all that, to see him rattle home while fresh. GOOD JOB BRO is a punters fury. Has the ability win this comfortably but just doesn’t string a series of good runs together. RISING LUCK surprised with win in easier grade last start but it was a good win suggesting this will suit.

The Early Crows Top Tip: GOOD JOB BRO

Race 8 – QTIS 3YO Hcp 1350m

Date: 1/4
Time: 5:00pm
Location: Doomben

OUR BEEBEE has wheels in this grade. He’s won 3 of only 4 starts and looks well placed this draw with weight relief. VICTORY EIGHT has drawn perfectly, is in terrific form, young rider can claim and he’s winning on everything. Ticks a lot of boxes while PINCH MOUNTAIN should be on speed all way. Did win first up last campaign and is 2nd up here.

The Early Crows Top Tip: VICTORY EIGHT


The Early Crow believes the rain everywhere will start to abate by Sunday.

The Early Crows Racing Top Tips – 2/4/2017














WAGGA Race 1


WAGGA Race 3


WAGGA Race 6

























What a great card of racing for The Championships.  The Early Crow likes the value on a number of runners and is predicting a winning day. 

The Early Crows Racing Top Tips – 01/4/2017































Adelaide United v Perth Glory

7.50pm (AEDT), Friday, March 31 @ Coopers Stadium

UNITED – 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 5.Taylor REGAN, 7.Jae-sung KIM, 8.ISAIAS, 9.Baba DIAWARA, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Sergio CIRIO, 12.Mark OCHIENG, 16.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 17.Nikola MILEUSNIC, 18.Riley McGREE, 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 22.Ryan KITTO, 30.Daniel MARGUSH (gk), 92.Eli BABALJ

GLORY – 3.Marc WARREN, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 9.Andy KEOGH, 11.Richard GARCIA, 13.Nick FEELY (gk), 14.Chris HAROLD, 15.Brandon WILSON, 16.Joe MILLS, 17.Diego CASTRO, 18.Mitch OXBORROW, 19.Josh RISDON, 20.Aryn WILLIAMS, 22.Adam TAGGART, 23.Kosta PETRATOS, 26.Lucian GOIAN, 28.Joe KNOWLES, 33.Liam REDDY (gk)

History: Adelaide have won 15 games to Perth’s 10, with 8 drawn. Perth have won both games this season so far.

Form: Adelaide are ninth with a 5W-6D-13L record, winning their last 2 against Brisbane and Central Coast. Perth are fifth with an 8-8-8 record, but have lost their last two to the Victory and Sydney.

Stats: Adelaide have won 4 and drawn 1 of their last 6 at home against Perth. The teams’ last 3 encounters have produced 4+ goals. United have scored 2+ goals just 4 times this season, but have notched 3 wins and a draw in those games. The Glory have conceded 10 goals in their past 3 games. Adelaide are 4W-2D-6L at home this season; Perth are 2-2-5 on the road.

Final Thoughts: The premiers appear to be finishing with a flourish after a long and arduous campaign, and now are in the box-seat to avoid the wooden spoon. The Glory have been typically up and down, and while they’d have to completely capitulate to miss the finals from here, their place in the top six isn’t quite sealed. But with the Reds taking a decent home record and more momentum into this clash, they shape as a good bet against a stuttering Perth side that struggles on the road.     

Crow’s Tip: Adelaide to win @ $2.50

Newcastle Jets v Western Sydney Wanderers 

5.35pm (AEDT), Saturday, April 1 @ McDonald Jones Stadium

JETS – 2.Daniel MULLEN, 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Aleksandr KOKKO, 10.Wayne BROWN, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 16.Nicholas COWBURN, 18.MA Leilei, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT, 50.Tomislav ARCABA (gk)

WANDERERS – 1.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Jack CLISBY, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 8.DIMAS (c), 10.Nicolás MARTÍNEZ, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 14.Jumpei KUSUKAMI, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 18.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 23.Lachlan SCOTT, 24.Terry ANTONIS, 29.Ryan GRIFFITHS, 49.Abraham MAJOK

History: WSW have won 7 games to the Jets’ 3, with 4 drawn. The first clash this season was drawn, before Wanderers won the second at home 2-0.

Form: The Jets are eighth with 5 wins and 7 draws from 24 games, going winless in their last 8 games – including 6 losses. Wanderers are sixth with 7 wins and 10 draws, winning their last 2 games against Wellington and Melbourne City by 3-1 margins. Stats: Wanderers have won 4 and drawn 1 of their last 5 against the Jets. Newcastle have scored just 2 goals in their past 6 outings, and have conceded 12 in their past 3 games. Wanderers have conceded just 2 goals in their past 3 games. The Jets are 3W-6D-3L at home this season; Wanderers are 3-4-4 away.

Final Thoughts: The wheels have fallen off badly for the Jets, barely competing in the past two months after looming as a potential finalist. Shocking defence and lack of scoring punch has combined to wreck the back-end of their campaign. Wanderers appear to be timing their run nicely – banking a pair of big wins in the past fortnight – and they should be able to make it three straight comfortably on Saturday.     

Crow’s Tip: Western Sydney Wanderers -1 @ $4.00

Sydney FC v Melbourne City FC

7.50pm (AEDT), Saturday, April 1 @ Allianz Stadium

SYDNEY – 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 4.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Jordy BUIJS, 6.Joshua BRILLANTE, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.BOBÔ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Bernie IBINI, 12.Aaron CALVER, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 17.David CARNEY, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.George BLACKWOOD, 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT

CITY FC – 1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 9.Nicolas COLAZO, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 12.Nick FITZGERALD, 14.Daniel ARZANI, 17.Tim CAHILL, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 26.Luke BRATTAN, 34.Dennis GENREAU

History: Melbourne City have won 7 to Sydney’s 5, with 9 drawn. The first clash was drawn this season, before Sydney won 3-1 away. Form: Sydney FC lead the league by 14 points with an 18W-5D-1L record, winning 4 straight since their only loss of the season. Melbourne City are third with a 10W-6W-8L record, beating the Mariners and Jets before going down 3-1 to Wanderers last week.

Stats: Sydney are winless in their last 4 at home against Melbourne City. Sydney have kept a clean sheet in their past 3 games. City FC’s last 6 games have produced 4+ goals. Sydney have won 8 and drawn 3 of 11 home games, scoring 20 goals and conceding just 4. Melbourne City are 4W-3D-5L on the road.

Final Thoughts: Sydney are on the march towards history, with an impregnable defence backed up by formidable scoring strike. Melbourne City received a wake-up call last week, and although they get Tim Cahill back from Socceroos duty this week, rolling the record-breaking front-runners seems a stretch.     

Crow’s Tip: Under 2.5 @ $2.28

Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix

5.00pm (AEDT), Sunday, April 2 @ AAMI Park

VICTORY – 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Marco ROJAS, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.James TROISI, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Alan BARO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 23.Jai INGHAM, 31.Christian THEOHAROUS, 40.Matt ACTON (gk)

PHOENIX – 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 6.Dylan FOX, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Hamish WATSON, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 13.Marco ROSSI, 17.Vince LIA, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 25.Sarpreet SINGH, 99.Shane SMELTZ

History: The Victory have won 17 games to the Phoenix’s 6, with 6 drawn. The teams have won 1 home game each this season. Form: The Victory are second with 14 wins and 3 draws from 24 games, but they have bookended a win over Perth with losses to Sydney and Brisbane in their last 3. The Phoenix are seventh with 7 wins and 5 draws from 24 games; they bounced by from a 3-1 loss to Wanderers with a 5-0 demolition of the Jets.

Stats: None of the teams’ last 18 games have finished in a draw. Melbourne have won 8 of their last 9 at home against Wellington. The Victory have not conceded more than 1 goal in their past 7 games. The Phoenix have not been held scoreless in their past 8 games, despite losing 4 of those. The Victory are 9W-1D-2L at home this season; the Phoenix are 2W-2D-7L on the road.

Final Thoughts: The Victory are limping towards the end of the season, perhaps hampered by complacency with second place already assured regardless of results over the closing rounds. The Phoenix are hanging in the playoffs race – barely – but their 5-0 rout of Newcastle ensured hope and life remains. With their All Whites contingent returning on a high and still plenty to play for, the Phoenix are enticing as $5.50 outsiders     

Crow’s Tip: Wellington Phoenix +1 @ $2.50

Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners

7.00pm (AEDT), Sunday, April 2 @ Suncorp Stadium

ROAR – 3.Luke DEVERE, 5.Corey BROWN, 6.Avram PAPADOPOULOS, 7.Thomas KRISTENSEN, 8.Jacob PEPPER, 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 10.Brett HOLMAN, 13.Jade NORTH (c), 15.ARANA, 19.Jack HINGERT, 20.Shannon BRADY, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 26.Nick D’AGOSTINO, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 29.Joe CALETTI, 43.Tomislav BILIC (gk), 46.Cameron CRESTANI

MARINERS – 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX (c), 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Josh BINGHAM, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 26.Steve WHYTE, 27.Lachlan WALES

History: The Roar have won 26 to the Mariners’ 7, with 7 drawn. The Roar have won both games so far this season, both away. Form: Brisbane are on a 7-match winning streak against Central Coast. The Roar are fourth with a 9W-9D-6L record, beating the Jets and Victory either side of an upset loss to Adelaide in their last 3. The Mariners are last with a 5W-5D-14L record, losing 4 and drawing 1 of their last 5.

Stats: Brisbane have scored only 2 goals in their last 3 home games. The Mariners have conceded 11 goals in their last 5 games. The Roar have won 5 and drawn 4 of 11 home games; the Mariners have won 2 and drawn 4 of their 12 away games.

Final Thoughts: Locked in a dog-fight for third spot with Melbourne City, the Roar will relish the opportunity to host the battling Mariners on Sunday. They put the controversial loss to Adelaide behind them with a great win over the Victory, and a Mariners side that is haemorrhaging goals is unlikely to provide much resistance for the home side.     

Crow’s Tip: Brisbane Roar -1 @ $1.91


Highlanders v Rebels

5.35pm (AEDT) Friday, March 31 @ Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Teams: Marty Banks starts in the Highlanders’ No.10, while Gareth Evans and Joe Wheeler return to the starting pack. Sefa Naivalu is out for the Rebels, which sees Tom English move to the wing and Mitch Inman come in at centre.

History: The Highlanders have won 4 games to the Rebels’ 1, including a 27-3 win in Melbourne last year.

Form: The Highlanders have a 2-3 record, scoring a crucial come-from-behind victory over the Brumbies in Canberra last week. The Rebels are 0-4, but have been more competitive in their last 2 losses to the Chiefs (27-14) and Waratahs (32-25).

Stats: Three of the teams’ 5 games have been decided by 22-plus margins. The Highlanders are unbeaten in 2 home games against the Rebels. The Highlanders have won 12-5 at home since the start of 2015, but are 0-2 this season. The Rebels are 5-10 on the road since the start of 2015.

Final Thoughts: The Highlanders have had a tough draw to date, compounding an injury crisis – but last week’s gritty win over the Brumbies was huge. They will relish a return to their home ground against a winless Rebels side, who have shown vast improvement in their last two outings after conceding more than 120 points in the first two rounds. But the Rebels just don’t have the forward grunt or backline firepower (Reece Hodge aside) to compete with a Highlanders side that still has All Blacks in key positions.

Crow’s Tip: Highlanders by 21-25 @ $6.00


Blues v Force

3.15pm (AEDT), Saturday, April 1 @ Eden Park, Auckland

Teams: The Blues have benched Rieko Ioane, with TJ Faiane joining George Moala in the centres, while Murphy Taramai replaces flanker Blake Gibson. Dane Haylett-Petty, Matt Hodgson and Tetera Faulkner return to boost the Force.

History: The Blues have a 6-1-1 record against the Force, including a 17-13 away win last season.

Form: The Blues are 2-3, powering to a 38-14 home win over the Bulls to end a 3-game losing streak. The Force are 1-3, going down to the Crusaders 45-17 in Christchurch last week.

Stats: The Blues have a 4-1 home record against the Force, while they are unbeaten in the last 7 games between the sides. The Blues are 10-8 at home since the start of 2015, but they have won their last 9 at home against overseas opposition. The Force have won just 4 of their last 20 Super Rugby games on the road.

Final Thoughts: The Blues were another side to grab a pressure-relieving win in Round 5, and they remained patient to run out emphatic winners against the Bulls. But the demotion of Rieko Ioane and Blake Gibson underlines the fact the Blues aren’t consistent enough – week to week and across 80 minutes. The Force faded out in the second half against the Crusaders, and although they will be better for having Haylett-Petty and Hodgson back, they will get overrun by a Blues side that has proved unbeatable at home when they don’t have to host a fellow Kiwi side.

Crow’s Tip: Blues -18.5 @ $1.90


Chiefs v Bulls

5.35pm (AEDT), Saturday, April 1 @ Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Teams: Liam Messam, Sam Cane and Michael Leitch will all start in the Chiefs’ loose forwards, while Aaron Cruden is back at flyhalf and James Lowe returns on the wing. Rudy Paige starts ahead of Piet van Zyl at halfback while lock RG Snyman and prop Pierre Schoeman also earn starts, and Jesse Kriel moves from centre to fullback.

History: The Chiefs have won 10 games to the Bulls’ 8, with 2 drawn. Their last clash was in 2015, with the Chiefs winning 34-20 at home.

Form: The Chiefs are 4-0, outlasting the Rebels away in Round 4 before sitting out the bye last weekend. The Bulls have a 1-3 record, pummelled 38-14 last week by the Blues after their sole win of the season against the lowly Sunwolves.

Stats: The Bulls have won 6 and drawn 2 of their last 11 against the Chiefs. The Chiefs have an 8-1-1 record at home against the Bulls. The Chiefs are 13-4 at home since the start of 2015; the Bulls are 6-13 on the road during the same period.

Final Thoughts: The Chiefs have looked the benchmark team so far in 2017, and they come in off a week’s break with a couple of their big-game players returning to the starting side. The Bulls look like they’re going through the motions, a series of high-profile departures crippling their bid to qualify for the finals. Poor on the road, the Bulls in for a torrid night.

Crow’s Tip: Chiefs -18.5 @ $1.90


Reds v Hurricanes

7.45pm (AEDT), Saturday, April 1 @ Suncorp Stadium

Teams: George Smith and Rob Simmons come back into the Reds’ pack for Hendrik Tui and Izack Rodda, while Chris Kuridrani replaces Izaiaz Perese on the wing. Dane Coles is out in a big blow for the Hurricanes, replaced by Ricky Riccitelli.

History: The Hurricanes have won 14 games to the Reds’ 4, including a 29-14 win in Wellington last season.

Form: The Reds are 1-4, ending a disappointing fortnight overseas with a 22-8 loss to the Jagaures. The Hurricanes are 3-1, bouncing back from their loss to the Chiefs with a 41-15 demolition of the Highlanders, before enjoying the Round 5 bye.

Stats: The Hurricanes have won 7 of the last 8 and 13 of the last 15 between the teams. The Hurricanes hold a 6-3 advantage over the Reds in Brisbane. Four of the Hurricanes’ last 5 wins over the Reds were by 13+ margins. The Reds have won just 6 of their last 18 at home. The Hurricanes are 13-5 away since the start of 2015.

Final Thoughts: It’s nearing make-or-break time for the Reds, who – after a heart-breaking home loss to the Crusaders – endured a woeful fortnight in South Africa and Argentina. Although Quade Cooper’s form had been typically erratic, his suspension absence has really hurt their continuity. The defending champion Hurricanes’ dismantling of the Highlanders proved they are easily the most dangerous attacking outfit in Super Rugby, and the home side could be on the wrong end of a cricket score on Saturday.

Crow’s Tip: Anytime Tryscorer – Vince Aso @ $1.91


Stormers v Cheetahs

12.05am (AEDT), Sunday, April 2 @ Newlands, Cape Town

Teams: The Stormers have lost Rynhardt Elstadt, Seabelo Senalta, Wilco Louw and JD Schikerling to injury.

History: The Stormers have won 12 games to the Cheetahs’ 5, including wins at home and away last season.

Form: The Stormers are 4-0, overcoming the Sunwolves away 44-31 last week. The Cheetahs are 2-3, losing 38-30 to the Sharks at home last weekend.

Stats: Three of the teams’ last 4 games were decided by 1-12 margins. The Stormers are on an 8-match home winning streak against Cheetahs. The Stormers are 11-5-1 at home since the start of 2015. The Cheetahs are 4-13 on the road since the start of 2015.

Final Thoughts: This South African derby shapes as a mismatch, with the Stormers swatting away all comers so far in 2017 and the Cheetahs looking a couple of notches below the standard of the finals contenders. With bonus points so crucial in the convoluted Super Rugby system, the hosts will eyeing off this match as a golden opportunity to notch one – despite their injury woes.

Crow’s Tip: Stormers 13+ @ $2.12


Lions v Sharks

2.15am (AEDT), Sunday, April 2 @ Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg

Teams: No significant changes are tipped for either side at this stage.

History: The Sharks have won 17 to the Lions’ 7, with 2 drawn. The Lions won both clashes last season, however.

Form: The Lions are 4-1, thumping the Reds and Kings in the past fortnight to bounce back from an away loss to the Jaguares. The Sharks are 4-1, winning four straight against the Brumbies, Waratahs, Kings and Cheetahs.

Stats: The Lions are on a 3-match winning streak against the Sharks, after winning only 1 of the previous 17. The Lions have a 5-6-2 record against the Sharks at home. Five of the teams’ last 6 games were decided by 13+ margins. The Sharks are 8-11-1 on the road since the start of 2015. The Lions are 14-5 at home since the start of 2015.

Final Thoughts: After the way they performed in the opening three rounds, the Sharks will be disappointed with their underwhelming efforts in edging out the lowly Kings and Cheetahs in the past fortnight. But the important thing is they have kept winning, and this clash is a crucial one in the context of the South African Group. The Lions have settled into a nice groove – despite a blip in Buenos Aries – and the 2016 runners-up should have too many tricks up their sleeve for the Sharks.

Crow’s Tip: Lions 1-12 @ $2.62


Waratahs v Crusaders

4.05pm (AEDT), Sunday, April 2 @ Allianz Stadium

Teams: Bernard Foley’s return was crucial to the Waratahs’ win last week but he is again in doubt with post-concussion symptoms; meanwhile, Israel Folau was more effective after moving back to fullback. It seems unlikely Israel Dagg will be risked on this road trip, while Kieran Read remains sidelined.

History: The Crusaders have won 17 games to the Waratahs’ 4, including a 29-10 win at home last season.

Form: The Waratahs are 2-3, emerging from 3 straight losses with a desperately-needed 32-25 away win over the Rebels in Round 5. The Crusaders lead the competition with a 5-0 record, routing the Force 45-17 in easily their most comprehensive win so far this season.

Stats: The Crusaders have won 12 of their last 14 against the Crusaders, but the Waratahs have won 2 of the last 3. The Crusaders have a 5-3 away record against the Waratahs, who have won the last 2 in Sydney. The Crusaders are 10-7 on the road since the start of 2015. The Waratahs are 11-8 at home since the start of 2015.

Final Thoughts: After getting out of jail three weeks in a row, the Crusaders enjoyed a chance to flex their muscles in a big win over the Force. Their big-name pack has been as effective as ever, but their young backline’s performances with key men Richie Mo’unga and Israel Dagg missing has been outstanding. The Waratahs were desperate last week and came from behind bravely, but the fact it was so tight against a struggling Rebels outfit gives an indication of where the Sydneysiders are at. The likely withdrawal of Foley makes this task a near-impossible one for the home side.

Crow’s Tip: Crusaders -9.5 @ $2.00