Super Rugby Round 17: Going out with a bang

Brett McKay Columnist

By , Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    It’s been a rough year for the Super Rugby, there’s very little argument about that. But with the competition’s last weekend before us, it shapes as a strong round to finish the season on.

    What’s more, at least half a dozen of them are bloody hard picks and could easily go either way.

    And while the conference winners won’t change, the finals seeding of those four winners certainly can, as can the seedings for the four wildcard teams.

    By my count, five of the nine games in this round can have some kind of bearing on the playoffs, which isn’t bad considering the general commentary around the competition this season.

    Last round (Round 16b): Digger and Brett 3; everyone else 2

    Brett
    So, not unlike the form of the Australian sides this year, the form of the Australian tipping this Super Rugby season has also, to put it bluntly, sucked.

    But this is the week I make up ground, and I can think of no better and no more ironic way of doing it than by doing it on the back of Australian teams!

    But not the Reds. If they’ve managed to get the snowplough into Dunedin without too much trouble, they’re going to face an all new kind of cold under the roof against the Highlanders.

    But the Rebels can play with emotion this week, with Mitch Inman to bid adieu, and Sean McMahon a likely sayonara. They’ll be desperate to finish the season on some semblance of a high, and the Jaguares are notoriously inconsistent.

    Kings-Cheetahs is well worth setting the alarm for, and I intend on doing just that. The Blues will have little trouble with the disappointing but still mighty Moondogs. And the Chiefs will probably have similarly little trouble with a Brumbies side I’m led to believe will see a few names resting – but I’m committed!

    This revival of mine will be driven in three equal parts of desperation, patriotism, and more desperation, and so I’m sticking with the visitors.

    Hurricanes by a lot less than plenty, but gee, this will be a cracking game. I’ll be rushing home from club rugby commentary duty for that one.

    The Waratahs were genuinely terrible last weekend, and the Force are riding the wave of anger, momentum, and Hodgo’s farewell. Plus, they’re playing better rugby. That wasn’t one of the aforementioned bloody hard picks, for the record.

    The Stormers will be comfortably too good for the Bulls, who I remain angry at after predicting back in February they would top Africa 1. And the Lions will be probably just as comfortably too good for the Sharks, which might just remind people that they’ll take some beating come finals time.

    Tips: Highlanders, Rebels, Kings, Blues, Brumbies, Hurricanes, Force, Stormers, Lions.

    Henco Venter Cheetahs Super Rugby Rugby Union 2016

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Digger
    “‘Canes by plenty.

    “Highlanders will run rampant in what will be an entertaining game in Dunedin, while I have to back the Jaguares as surely they have too much of something for the Rebels. Surely. The Kings cannot be ignored at home, that should be a fun match to watch.

    “The Blues pick themselves, as do the Chiefs in Hamilton. Roarer Piru will be disappointed that I am picking the Force over the Waratahs but Piru, the ‘Tahs have been flat out awful. Should be heaps of niggle though, I like that.

    “Anyway, I do give the Sharks a chance against the Lions but how can you pick them? Their form is so unbelievably up and down that the Lions are my tip. The Stormers surely over the Bulls, which means, probably not.”

    Tips: Highlanders, Jaguares, Kings, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Force, Stormers, Lions.

    Harry Jones
    “Nobes and I are deadlocked in a struggle to the death, with Diggercane lurking like a larger, more robust Barrett brother. Brett is also lurking… deceptively far from the winner’s circle. Farther than far.

    “But enough of that. Maybe we are more like a team. A band of brothers. Us versus the mighty Crowd. A version of southern hemisphere Lions.

    “OK. This is crucial. I have to get it right. Nobes is a fierce competitor. He’s the Gus Creevy of The Roar.

    “The Highlanders will score early and often against the Reds, who will struggle to score at all. The Rebels will lose to the mercurial Jaguares, who may be happy to be away from home.

    “The Kings will continue their winning ways against the Cheetahs. Can the Kings finish 10th on the log? Will they be the highest ranked team ever to be relegated from any professional league?

    “The Blues will run rampant against the Sunwolves, who were steamrolled in South Africa on successive weekends. The Chiefs will take care of the fading Brumbies. The Hurricanes will play smarter than before and nip the not-so-mighty-any-more Crusaders.

    “The Force and the Waratahs will play a rough derby. I think there will be ill blood. I have no idea who will win. I’ll stall on that. The Lions will have a very difficult match against the Sharks in Durban, but I think they will win.

    “The Stormers will beat the Bulls using forward dominance and their lethal back three. Did everyone see the tries manufactured by Leyds and Kolbe last week? Magic.

    “OK. I’ll pick the damn Tahs. Because the coolest girl on The Roar, Dani, likes them…”

    Tips: Highlanders, Jaguares, Kings, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Waratahs, Lions, Stormers.

    rieko-ioane-super-rugby-union-blues-2017

    (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

    Nobes
    “Uff!! It is very difficult to tip games when teams are playing for nothing. SANZAAR must rethink this. What will interest people to show up at stadiums or get up at 6:00am to watch an irrelevant game that will not serve any purpose for the competition?

    “This next round has some of those games, just like the last round, and my fierce competitors are putting everything on the line to prevent me from reaching the top in solitude. Regardless, here we go with some irrelevant tips for Round 17.

    “What will prevent the Highlanders from beating the Reds? If Jaguares play like they did against the Tahs, they will have no problems with the Rebels. As well as Harry, I became a Kings fan and I wish them a good fairway against the also departing Cheetahs.

    “Why the Blues have to go to Tokyo to run over the Sunwolves at this point of the tournament beats me. The Brumbies will feel a taste of what the playoff will be like when they lose against the Chiefs.

    “Will the Force win what could be their last game in Super Rugby against the Waratahs? I have no idea. Matching man to man the Waratahs should win, but after the lack of attitude displayed on the field against Jaguares makes this call very difficult. Waratahs.

    “Lions will show why they are the best team in South Africa and overcome a difficult game against the Sharks. Stormers will gear towards the playoff with a good win over the Bulls.

    “Finally, the game of the week! Uff! ‘Canes against the Crusaders. Hurricanes because they are playing at home.

    Tips: Highlanders, Jaguares, Kings, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Waratahs, Stormers, Lions.

    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…

    Digger
    “There will plenty of blood in Perth, someone will dive in Melbourne, expect a fairly rugged encounter in Wellington as a number of All Blacks look to work their frustration out after the Lions series and a crowd of 50 or so in Pretoria.

    “The Kings and Cheetahs will likely play out the most entertaining game on the weekend, too.”

    Harry
    “Rugby developed through the grassroots of the Eastern Cape, penetrated the soccer stronghold in black Africa, embraced the diversity of styles that could be a blueprint for true transformation in South Africa, a world rugby juggernaut, survived cuts and ridicule and pay disputes, led by an unheralded coach after their president was disgraced, and it worked.

    “The Kings are eight places clear of the bottom, and only two log points below a basically international Test team from Argentina, who were supposed to leave them in the dust. But for sure, the Kings are out.

    “The Sunwolves have 20 fewer log points, five fewer wins, no traction on crowd attendance, and no clear plan to become competitive. But for sure, they are in.”

    Nobes
    “This is the most difficult tipping round of all 17.”

    Brett
    Yet more Monday over-reaction about crowds in Melbourne and Perth. They haven’t been great anywhere in Australia this season, so let’s all save ourselves the angst and give the keyboards the morning off…

    Got a sure thing yourself? Let us know in the comments below, and enjoy your rugby this weekend…

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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