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Super Rugby Round 9: Golf analogies and subway tunnels

The Hurricanes head to Auckland to face the Blues. (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)
Expert
11th April, 2018
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2833 Reads

Are you a golf fan? Geoff Parkes and I are. I don’t know if Digger is, but I’m pretty sure Harry doesn’t have the patience for golf.

Nobes? Nobes could be the sneaky one who doesn’t let on he plays off scratch until after you’ve sprayed your first tee shot having agreed to play for ten bucks a hole.

There’s a relevance here, and anyone who watched the US Masters last weekend will quickly pick up on this.

My recovering from 1/6 in Round 7 to picking the Round 8 card is pretty much identical to Sergio Garcia shooting 13 on the 15th hole at Augusta National on the first day and then following it up with a birdie on the par-three 16th ten minutes later. Exactly the same. Unprecedented comeback.

And remember the up-and-down graphical ‘underground subway tunnels’ illustration of the mid-table teams on Tuesday that brought out more golf analogies, including a resemblance to my general approach to a green? Well, I reckon those very same illustrative graphs would equally apply to our tipping.

Nobes would be the flat line across the top, with the rest of us all over the place below him. What a week it’s been…

Last week
Perfect sixes for Geoff and me, five for Digger and The Crowd, and lowly threes for Nobes and Harry. Which means yet more positional change behind our Argentinean leader!

Overall
Nobes 35, Geoff 33, Digger and The Crowd 32, Brett 31, and Harry 30.

Geoff

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Hurricanes, Blues, Rebels, Highlanders, Reds, Sharks
How quickly the euphoria from tipping a perfect round is replaced by the fear of once again exposing yourself to tipping ridicule. Oh well…

The Canes are a different side without TJ Perenara, but I’ll take replacement half Jamie Booth at his word that he’s been working this week on kicking without the need to take a couple of steps first. The return of Beauden Barrett outside him might just help too.

Last year’s Tokyo humiliation will help the Blues get over the Dogs this time around, while it’s hard to see anything other than a comfortable Rebels win against the Jaguares. Ditto the Highlanders over the Brumbies.

My most vivid rugby memory from the SCG is that of Peter Grigg scorching away for a try against the All Blacks. Will it be Taqele Naiyaravoro or Filipo Daugunu doing the scorching this time around? I’m backing the Reds to bounce back in a minor upset.

The Bulls are hard to catch and are well capable of an upset in Durban. But after a month on the road surely the Sharks won’t blow their chance to start accumulating a few wins.

Sure things
There will be a lot of respect shown this week. A lot. And inclusion too.

Vince Aso

(Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

Brett

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Hurricanes, Sunwolves, Rebels, Highlanders, Waratahs, Sharks
What surprises you most in my line? I reckon this is only a one-upset week. When games look pretty clear-cut, it’s usually because they are. And the two obvious upset games in my mind are the Mighty Moondogs and the Blues, plus Highlanders-Brumbies. And I’ll come back to both games shortly.

The Hurricanes look a bit sharp for the Chiefs to me. Once Damien McKenzie went off last week, they really lost their spark. He’s been named again this week, but the Canes will know that the key to getting on top of the Chiefs is getting on top of McKenzie.

Rebels will be too good for the Jaguares, who strike me as worse travellers than the Bulls. Waratahs look too strong and with too many points for the Reds, though they’ll still have their coach’s stinging post-match words ringing in their ears as they run onto the hallowed SCG turf. And the Sharks will bring far too much confidence from their tour for the Bulls in Durban.

A week ago I’d have thought the Highlanders would carry a fair advantage over the Brumbies on their form at that time, but the Brumbies’ stunning win over the Reds closes that gap. To the point that even though I give the Brumbies a huge chance, home-ground advantage leans me toward the Highlanders.

Which means the designated upset this week is indeed the Sunwolves over the Blues. The consistent inconsistency of the Blues leaves them ripe for the picking. And I reckon we all know a Sunwolves win is coming. So let’s have it this week, thanks, rugby gods.

Sure thing
At least two upsets. Maybe even just two favourites getting up. A 13-on-Sergio’s-card rough week.

Sunwolves super rugby

(Matt Roberts/Getty Images for Sunwolves)

Digger

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Hurricanes, Blues, Rebels, Highlanders, Waratahs, Sharks
I hate the fact this week looks relatively straightforward. It makes me nervous.

As was pointed out to me this week, I wonder if both first-choice first-fives will be out this week and replaced by their brothers. Now that would surely be a first. Anyhow, Canes by plenty.

I will back the Blues in Tokyo, but I really cannot do so with confidence while the balance of the round is all about home sides for me. Rebels, as I don’t have any reason to consider the Jaguares away from home. Highlanders under the roof is a no-brainer, and Waratahs at home seems the sensible bet in these derbies.

And the Sharks have been eye-catching of late and I expect that to continue back home in Durban against the cattle.

Sure thing
Time for reverse psychology, Asafo Aumua will not score his first try of Super Rugby this weekend.

Maddocks Melbourne Rebels

(Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Nobes

Hurricanes, Blues, Rebels, Highlanders, Waratahs, Sharks
Round 8 left me with all kind of questions and insecurity. The games that I tipped correctly were almost not correct, with the exception of the game in the land of the rising sun. They made me sweat until the last minutes and one of them beyond regular time.

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On the other hand in the games that I did not tip well, the margins were huge. So I must find out how on earth Geoff and Brett had perfect rounds. Peaky blinders?

For Round 9 I have to go back to basics – if there is such thing in this edition of Super Rugby – and tip all the home teams with the obvious exception on the game to be played in Japan.

I have some flies in my stomach with the Canes and Chiefs game. TJ or the Barrett brothers are not playing, but on the other hand there are some doubts on the health of Damian McKenzie, so it will be a matter of who is healthy and the depth of each team to successfully replace the injured ones.

No worth talking much about the game that involves the Blues; they should take this one.

Jaguares will not be able to recover fast enough from the physical game they played against the Crusaders and the jet lag they went through to get to Melbourne, where a rested and hungry Rebels team is waiting. Highlanders are too much of a force for the Brumbies in the game to be played in Dunedin.

Waratahs vs Reds is not an easy tip. The home team will be up against a big pack of forwards ready to redeem themselves for what happened to them against the Brumbies. This one will keep me awake until it is finished.

Finally, the Sharks will try to show their home crowd that what happened on the tour will not happen at home, and all the good things they do on the field can translate into a positive result. The Bulls are a good test for them.

Sure thing
Drama will continue in this round.

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TJ Faiane Blues

(Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Harry

Hurricanes, Blues, Rebels, Highlanders, Waratahs, Sharks
I am in tipping hell. I have to look at myself in the mirror and… make a change. I will reorient myself.

I need to be more decisive. In the Brisberra derby an Aussie commentator came up with this rhetorical gem: “Aw, mate, that decision might turn out to be decisive”.

Tautology wrapped in caveats! The ‘might’ turns this word salad into a big bag of nada. My decisions have been indecisive. So I tried tipping all the away teams except the Sharks. Guess who won?

This week I’m going to tip all the home teams. Except the Blues! It always seems to come down to these flaky Blues and bipolar Sharks.

So, it’s all home sides except the diminutive, mercenary, ‘four wins out of 36 games’ Sunwolves.

Am I crazy? Is my home town’s dehydration sapping my feeble brain?

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Sure thing
When you lead by six and you try not to lose, you often lose. All you really have to do is play to score again. Even a three. And then you win.

Get your votes in now – The Crowd’s tips will be revealed Friday afternoon AEST.

What have you got, Crowd? Who gets your tip? Got a sure thing yourself? Let us know in the comments below, and enjoy your rugby this weekend…