Well, we saw the table movement that I suspected and, sadly for Harry and me, it wasn’t in a good way.
This week doesn’t look great in terms of making up ground, although maybe there are a couple of games in the fixture that are a bit curlier than they first look – at least that’s what I’ll be telling you soon.
The Waratahs-Blues game appears to be the game causing the most problems, which seems about right. Two teams who on paper boast incredible talent, who should be playing better rugby than they are, and who are just as likely to dazzle as they are to underwhelm.
Good luck with that.
Last week: Nobes and The Crowd 6, Digger and Brett 5, Harry 4
“Well, finally I know the feeling of being the rabbit that everybody wants to catch.
“I would like to give my apologies to The Crowd that followed my tips in Round 10 for the two misfires. The Waratahs were a difficult call, and they seemed to be playing with 16 men some of the time, but the Jaguares was a big disappointment for me; I thought they had more rugby than they showed.
“Next round presents some clear results and a few blurry ones.
“The Hurricanes will give the Stormers their third loss, but hopefully not another 50 points. Highlanders will take care of the Cheetahs if they do not give the ball to those three speedsters at the back. The Lions will be better this week to take the Rebels. The Chiefs will have to improve if they want to beat the Reds.
“Whoa, ‘Tahs against the Blues. I want to think that Waratahs will win at home. But it is going to be a close one. With the Jaguares out of the picture, the Sharks will play better rugby and beat the Force. Crusaders will cruise against the Bulls.
“And I am not so sure that Jaguares will easily take the team from Japan.”
Tips: Hurricanes, Highlanders, Lions, Chiefs, Waratahs, Sharks, Crusaders, Jaguares.
“’Canes by plenty.
“Highlanders should eventually outrun the Cheetahs, while the Lions are a no brainer against the Rebels and the Chiefs too should win comfortably in New Plymouth, despite their recent form slump.
“The Sharks at home, back to having fish for me, while the Crusaders are playing too well despite the missing big names, even in Pretoria. And the Jaguares should bounce back hard this week against what must be a travel weary Sunwolves.
“Waratahs and Blues? Difficult choice, Blues should take it, but do I trust them to win twice on the road? The ‘Tahs will be highly motivated, I would have assumed, and still have the playoffs as a realistic option. Nah, stuff it; Blues it is, and poor old Machooka to lose his bet for the second year running with Rugby Tragic.”
Tips: Hurricanes, Highlanders, Lions, Chiefs, Blues, Sharks, Crusaders, Jaguares
So a couple of, ahem, astute selections came off last week, but there were another couple that are best left forgotten forever. Thanks a bloody lot, Rebels.
This week the Hurricanes should continue the Stormers tour of hell, and I think the Lions will make the Rebels homecoming about as comfortable as an old pair of boots with the studs coming through.
In between those two, I’m not so sure the Highlanders will outrun the Cheetahs, Nobes. I don’t know the Cheetahs were quite as bad last week as the scoreline against the Crusaders, and the first game on tour is always a bit rough – as the Rebels proved last week! Anyway, call me irrational if you must, but only if you call me a tipping genius next week when I get this one right.
I think the Reds will have a tough time of it in Barrettville, I think the Sharks should be too good for the Force (but look forward to being wrong), and the Jaguares surely couldn’t lose to the Moondogs and the Kings in the same season.
(What’s that? They already did that last season? Well, surely, surely they couldn’t do it in consecutive seasons…)
Can the Blues win twice on the road? In a word, no. Historically, the last time the Blues won two away games in a row was split over the end of the 2012 season and the start of 2013; two away games seven months apart. Before that it was 2011 when they actually managed three away wins in a row. Can they overcome history? Nope, not this consistently inconsistent bluesiest of Blues sides.
And to finish, I genuinely think the Crusaders a due a loss, but not as much as I genuinely think the Bulls are hopeless.
Tips: Hurricanes, Cheetahs, Lions, Chiefs, Waratahs, Sharks, Crusaders, Jaguares
“The last round was a disaster. The Stormers looked like they needed mum’s shoulder to cry on. The Reds-Tahs game was not officiated properly, in my opinion.
“But this next round is the easiest one thus far. And the leader has given me a gift by disrespecting the Blues.
“The Hurricanes will blow through the fragile defensive scheme of the Capetonians, who have lost their surest tackler, Eben Etzebeth. The Highlanders and the Cheetahs will probably score heaps and loads and buckets of points, but it will end in no joy for the home side.
“The Lions will bite the weary, dispirited Rebels to the bone. The Chiefs will boil the Reds alive. The mighty Blues will run away from the Waratahs; they’ll even notch a bonus point.
“The Sharks will take care of the Force. The Crusaders will run with the Bulls and the Bulls will not. The Jaguares will get another home win.”
Tips: Hurricanes, Highlanders, Lions, Chiefs, Blues, Sharks, Crusaders, Jaguares.
Get your tips in now – The Crowd’s tips will be revealed before kick-off in the first game of the weekend.
The Sure Thing
The one thing we’re all absolutely certain will happen over the course of this weekend. Well, pretty certain…
“With the current doubt around the availability of the All Blacks loose forwards for a certain series coming up, expect a big game from Brad Shields who will put his hand up nice and high for a potential opportunity.”
“Steve Hansen will not have a light-hearted stress-free look at his loose forwards’ tackles and carries.”
“The Waratahs versus Blues is the game of the week.”
We got some upsets last week, but this will be the week the Lions remember that making a big statement away from home is more important than keeping blokes fresh. With the Rebels losing so many players they’re now picking players from the establishment, this could get ugly.
Got a sure thing yourself? Let us know in the comments below, and enjoy your rugby this weekend.