Unlucky 13? Well, that’s what I’m sweating on now, after Round 12 served up a plateful of pain to my column of the tipping panel.
Round 13 looms as a tough week, too, and once again, I reckon six of the eight games can easily swing either way.
Is this the week the Crusaders come undone? Is this the week the Stormers remember how to win? Have the Highlanders used up all their luck?
And what of the Australian sides? The on-field woes only seem to take over the headlines from the off-field woes of a Monday, so is some good news too much to ask, just once this season? There can only be three Australian wins, but I’d love to write about four really good performances next week.
Last week: Harry and The Crowd 5; Digger and Nobes 4; Brett 3, but you know, whatevs…
“The gravel-chucking Chiefs will hand the set-piece gurus from the South Island their first loss. The Blues (my Kiwi team) will be well-beaten (and mauled and scrummed) by a resurgent Stormer squad in the friendly confines of Newlands.
“The angry ‘Canes will score plenty of tries against the generous matadors from Bloemfontein. The weary Highlanders will pip the weary Force. The embarrassed Sharks (teams losing to the Kings should stop feeling humiliated; they’re the most improved team in Super Rugby) will grind out a win in steamy Singapore and eat that good street food on those litter-free roads.
“The Kings vs Brumbies? I don’t know! I don’t! The Kings are faster. The Brumbies aren’t scoring tries. The Kings aren’t deep. The Brumbies are. The Kings have momentum; and are eating home cooking. Hmmmmm…. Kings?
“The Lions will eat the Bulls for lunch. The Waratahs will play their best game.”
TIPS: Chiefs, Stormers, Hurricanes, Highlanders, Sharks, Kings, Lions, Waratahs
“’Canes by plenty.
“Chiefs and Crusaders are giving me a headache, I just don’t know. Chiefs seem the ‘safe’ option, coming off a bye and less travel so I will plump for them, but not with any great certainty while the Stormers at Newlands shape as a bridge too far for the Blues.
I have to back the Highlanders, even in Perth, while I imagine the Sharks will pull finger in Singapore. The Kings? Why not, at home in PE may be too much for a Brumbies side under pressure while the Lions certainly pick themselves and I will say the Waratahs at home should be too much for the Rebels.”
Tips: Chiefs, Stormers, Hurricanes, Highlanders, Sharks, Kings, Lions, Waratahs
“Well, well, well. My sure thing of last week was just not a feeling and while everybody is asking the Jaguares coach to take a leave of absence, he only claims that he is going to work harder. When a team loses their soul, there is only one thing to do…
“Round 13 presents a big puzzle and Harry has teed off ahead, so I must take some chances.
“I think it’s time for the Crusaders to give one up; they have travelled so much and it is hard to keep the intensity for such a long time. The Blues will keep winning and Stormers may feel strong at home but it will not be enough.
“The Hurricanes have the chance to jump right back on track and will not lose the chance to the exciting Cheetahs. Highlanders will keep making magic against the Force. The embarrassed Sharks will have to find a way to fix their fly half situation; Patrick Lambie is not at his best and Bosch is missed, but they still have what it takes to beat the Sunwolves.
“What about the Kings? I like to see how they have been improving game by game and the flyhalf Lionel Cronje is guiding a team in excellent form. The Lions are too strong for the Bulls. And the Waratahs are in a must-win situation, but they have the same bug the Jaguares caught somewhere, so they make me nervous.”
Tips: Chiefs, Blues, Hurricanes, Highlanders, Sharks, Kings, Lions, Waratahs
Well, I’ve got to say, I’m surprised that there’s been so little variation in the tips to date, because I think this week is going to be harder to get right than last week. And last week was bloody rough, if you were mad enough to follow my tips.
So, I agree with the guys that this is quite possibly the week the Crusaders’ run comes undone. The Chiefs have been flying under the radar a bit, and I think last week might take a toll on the Crusaders. And to prove this point completely, I’m going to take the Crusaders again.
The Stormers should be well refreshed back in Cape Town, and now have a chance to play into form the playoffs. I can’t see the Cheetahs giving the Hurricanes any trouble, but I see the Force giving the Highlanders huge trouble.
Both teams will meet in Perth from opposite corners of the southern hemisphere, and while the Highlanders will bring tiredness and about seven minutes of sheer luck with them, the Force bring a huge amount of belief and the knowledge that the cavalry are ready to return. I can’t wait to see the Sea of Blue welcome their team onto the pitch on Saturday night.
The Sharks? Pfft, please. No Bosch, and huge questions over Lambie, and if the Kings are the most improved side in the comp like Harry says, then the Mighty Moondogs mightn’t be too far behind them.
There’s a thousand reasons why the Kings should win in Port Elizabeth, but only one for the Brumbies: desperation. They just have to win, though it’s fascinating to see the difference in Lionel Cronje’s game since his first Super Rugby forays in a Brumbies jersey.
And the Lions because they will, and the Waratahs because they have to.
Tips: Crusaders, Stormers, Hurricanes, Force, Sunwolves, Brumbies, Lions, Waratahs
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…
“Vince Aso will score a hat trick.”
“There are probably angry conversations in Buenos Aires; and blame, division, and accusations.”
“Either Harry or myself will be leading after this round unless Digg and Brett go all in and win.”
Yet more order-shuffling in the Australian conference, but maybe a bit in the New Zealand conference too. And I’m quite sure that a tip I’m currently feeling pretty confident about is one that will bring me horribly undone.
Got a sure thing yourself? Let us know in the comments below, and enjoy your rugby this weekend…