Super Rugby Round 18: You can’t write ‘penultimate’ without a pen

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert


78 Have your say

    A word that always makes me smile is ‘penultimate’.

    It’s not the very best of something, and it’s not the very last of anything, but it’s pretty bloody close. And it’s fun to say.

    Apparently, it’s even misused in some American circles to mean ‘ultimate’. I’d have thought that not actually being the word ‘ultimate’ would’ve been a giveaway that it didn’t mean the same thing, but maybe that’s just me.

    “The pen- part of penultimate”, the Merriam-Webster dictionary people tell me, “is simply the Latin prefix that means ‘almost’, so the word literally means ‘almost last’.”

    So while this is indeed the penultimate round of Super Rugby for 2018, this isn’t the ‘almost last’ week of the Tipping Panel. No sir; we are nothing if not stayers, and we’ll be going through to the end. Which should give Harry enough time to make up ground and finish ‘actually last’ by a point.

    Round 17: Nobes 4; Digger, Harry, Brett and Geoff 3; The Crowd 2.

    Overall: Nobes 73; Geoff 72; The Crowd 68; Digger and Brett 67; Harry 62.

    Tips: Crusaders, Rebels, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Waratahs, Jaguares, Sharks

    Crusaders at home is usually a safe bet, so I will pick them over the Highlanders. The Rebels will bounce back and defeat the Reds to secure a playoff spot.

    The Brumbies will visit the Chiefs and will not be able to pull two consecutive upsets. The Hurricanes will have some of their soldiers back on their feet and that will be enough to see off the Blues.

    The Waratahs will welcome the game against the Sunwolves to clinch the top spot in the conference.

    The Jaguares will defeat the Bulls and take the first spot in the South African conference. The Sharks are in a must-win position and will take care of the Stormers in really close game.

    Sure thing: this week we will know who is going to be the new coach for Los Pumas.

    Tips: Crusaders, Rebels, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Waratahs, Jaguares, Sharks

    Well, I’ve gone and picked the same as Nobes, so that doesn’t help my Brumbies-finals-chances of catching him. But I just don’t see Round 18 as a week that screams ‘upsets’, unfortunately.

    The Crusaders will run out onto Wyatt Crockett Stadium, which will randomly stand tall or collapse in a heap depending on whether they or the Highlanders have the ball. Regardless, the competition leaders will lay down a finals foundation of home games with a win. The Rebels, meanwhile, will watch the Waratahs’ second half and take note of what playing for a second set of 40 looks like.

    The Brumbies showed last week that they’re capable of putting on points against strong counter-attacking sides, but the thing about the Chiefs is that even if you put 30 on them, they can still put 31 back on you easily. If this was in Canberra, a Brumbies win wouldn’t be out of the question. It’s not, so I think it is. Is a Blues win in Wellington out of the question, on that topic? Well, yes. Yes, it is.

    The Sunwolves have won three of their last five and are playing some great rugby, but surely – surely! – the motivation of sneaking into second will be enough for the Waratahs to get home.

    And I’m sure the Jaguares have the Bulls covered, just as I’m sure the Sharks have the already-looking-at-2019 Stormers covered, despite both sides being away.

    Sure tings: there will be upsets. I’m not a gambler, but there’s retirement-worthy value in picking against us this week.

    Tips: Crusaders, Rebels, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Waratahs, Jaguares, Sharks

    The Highlanders revisit the site of last season’s heartbreaking loss to Mitch Hunt’s miracle dropped goal. I’m tipping their fate will be sealed well before the 83rd minute this time around.

    Surely the Reds can’t be as poor as they were last week in Auckland, but the Rebels need this win too much. The Brumbies need to win as well, but the Chiefs in Hamilton are a different proposition to an out-of-sorts Hurricanes. An honourable loss awaits the Ponies. The Canes have been in decline for a while now, and are almost going so badly they could lose to the Blues. Almost.

    The Sunwolves are full of initiative and have the best kicker in the competition, but the Tahs have enough points in them to seal top spot in the Australian conference.

    Have the Bozo Bulls got any smarter since their Singapore sojourn? Perhaps, but if the Jaguares maintain their discipline they will win.

    The final match is this week’s coin toss. The Sharks defended well last week against the Lions and have grown through the competition, while the Stormers have flatlined. It’s always a good idea to stick to the home team in close South African derbies, so Stormers it is.

    Sure thing: Jerome Kaino will not be taking any kicks for goal this week, but if the Crusaders manage to get a few points up and score late, watch out for Wyatt Crockett to be handed the kicking tee.

    Tips: Crusaders, Rebels, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Waratahs, Jaguares, Sharks

    Canes by plenty. Maybe.

    The Highlanders will be highly motivated to make amends after last week’s first half and teams have been known to misfire somewhat after a bye, but the Crusaders are too good to ignore at home. The Rebels, meanwhile, have more to play for than the Reds at this stage, so I’ll back them away in Brisbane.

    The Chiefs in Hamilton appear to be a bridge too far for an ever-improving Brumbies side, and the Waratahs should cruise in at home against the Sunwolves, especially with second place outright up for grabs.

    I will back the Jaguares away in Pretoria; they look a far more cohesive unit than the Bulls. And I will back the Sharks away, who just appear the better side on paper despite their inconsistency – and will have to live with the automatic regret and eventual telling off from Harry Jones of not picking the Newlands side.

    Sure thing: Kaino will play an absolute blinder and I will regret most of my tips, along with my new favourite catchphrase ‘check check’ annoying more than just my co-workers.

    Tips: Crusaders, Rebels, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Waratahs, Jaguares, Sharks

    Comparisons are finally easy, because every team has played 14 games, except the Lions and Stormers (15 each).

    The Crusaders will honour Wyatt Crockett, who conceded 356 scrum penalties across his illustrious career, but lineouts are a lot more important than scrums in the modern game; Crusaders by ten.

    The Rebels attack better than the Reds, score a lot more tries, miss fewer tackles, hit harder, kick smarter, and complete more offloads and good passes. Rebels by five.

    The gravelly Chiefs will break the Brumbies line without even trying; Chiefs by plenty.

    The mysterious Hurricanes are only better at one thing than the Blues: having a good margin of points scored compared to points conceded. That will continue. The hard-tackling, scrambling Sunwolves aren’t going to win in Sydney, at the moment.

    The Bulls will give the Jaguares a lot to worry about, but then again, they will let the Jags score 35. Jags by five.

    The Stormers are just trying to not get injured. Sharks are on the rampage, as they (-4 in point differential) and the Rebels (-1) storm to a thrilling conference versus conference denouement. Sharks, with a bonus point, setting up a thrilling last round. The Rebels will be playing in that crazy covered stadium against Kiwi-Scots, while the Sharks have to host the Pumas-who-are-not-Pumas.

    The finalists will win this week.

    Sure thing: Momentum will be a word much used. The 12-win Crusaders and the nine-win Jaguares have it, while the eight-win Waratahs and seven-win Rebels and six-win Sharks need to find it, and the ten-win Hurricanes are wondering where it went.

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

    Who have you got, Roarers? Who gets your tip? 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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    The Crowd Says (78)

    • July 5th 2018 @ 4:43am
      JRVJ said | July 5th 2018 @ 4:43am | ! Report

      All the experts agreed on their picks!

      Moreso, I tried to be contrarian about mine, but gosh darn it, I agree with all those picks! (I guess something crazy like Sunwolves winning in Sydney could happen, but they are all pretty rock solid picks).

      One thing I’d keep an eye on is on the Sharks’ behavior, considering they are the last team to play with a chance at the playoffs.

      Phrased differently, by the time they take the pitch in Cape Town, the Sharks will know if the Rebels won (making it very, very difficult for the Sharks to qualify) or lost (which puts the Sharks in the driver seat for the 8th spot) and if the Jags won (which means the Sharks can’t catch the Jags, which would be in the playoffs) or lost (which could give the Sharks a chance at catching them).

      • July 5th 2018 @ 7:25am
        Shop said | July 5th 2018 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        I thought that too but Geoff picked the Stormers!

        • July 5th 2018 @ 8:58am
          Rob said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:58am | ! Report

          Me too

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2018 @ 6:21pm
          Machooka said | July 5th 2018 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

          Yep Shop… kiss of death eh!

    • July 5th 2018 @ 5:20am
      RahRah said | July 5th 2018 @ 5:20am | ! Report

      I’ve gone with the same picks as the experts – fancy that. I’m with JRVJ in the hope that the tipping world is tipped on it’s head just to make things interesting. I would love to see the Sunwolves do the Tahs but I doubt it.
      Here’s hoping the the rocket scientists at SANZAAR have’nt come up with more of the same at their recent meeting.

      • Roar Guru

        July 5th 2018 @ 6:10am
        Nobrain said | July 5th 2018 @ 6:10am | ! Report

        Actually, to be fair, it has been very difficult to tip this year. In 2016 and 2017 we used to get perfect rounds every other week, this year we had a very few perfect rounds and it has been hard to score more than 60% correctly.

      • Columnist

        July 5th 2018 @ 3:16pm
        Brett McKay said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

        I don’t think said rocket scientists have come up with more of anything at their most recent meeting, judging by that ridiculous press release yesterday evening…

    • July 5th 2018 @ 6:48am
      Daveski said | July 5th 2018 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      It’s funny but I now think the Tahs could potentially win the tournament ( they’ve shown they can compete with NZ teams even in NZ ) yet they are such a house of cards it would not surprise me to see them beaten at home by the Moondogs.

      In their favour big Taqele has terrorised the Sunwolves the last couple of seasons when they’ve played.

      Rebels v Reds I actually think Rebels going to have a really tough time in the scrums. But Jordan Petaia at 13 is a really tough ask for the young guy up against a physical and slightly unorthodox centre pairing.

      That selection made me wonder what Cam Magnay is up too. Which in turn made me wonder what Luke Jones is doing. Anyone know is either player is back for 2019?

      • July 5th 2018 @ 8:58am
        Rob said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        Yeah, if you do the crazy-dangerous thing of pencilling-in the way the finals should stack up, and the home team advantage you usually see in the finals, it looks like a Waratahs Crusader final in Christchurch. (If the Tahs get home ground advantage all the way by coming “fifth, but second”.) The Cru would be massive favourites and deserving winners, but as the Rebels found last week, the Tahs have a couple of intercepts in them and by then I fully expect World Rugby will have changed the “interpretation” of the competing for the ball in the air rule such that anyone touching Folau gets a red card. Tahs by a point.

        • July 5th 2018 @ 6:14pm
          Jacko said | July 5th 2018 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

          Didnt the Blues beat the tahs just a few games ago…and wasnt it a Tahs home game??? I guess the Tahs must have trained really well over the break…Yet just scrapped in against the rebels with 2 intercepts…I think the Tahs are being grossly over blown

          • Roar Guru

            July 5th 2018 @ 7:40pm
            jeznez said | July 5th 2018 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

            Tahs had the Crusaders 0-29 on their home patch then sneakily put the cue back in the rack so they could fly under the radar and surprise them in the final.

            Gibson is playing mind games, don’t let him pull the wool over your eyes!

      • Columnist

        July 5th 2018 @ 3:18pm
        Brett McKay said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

        Luke Jones, Daveski, I’m almost sure I read only recently has extended a deal in France, and I thought initially that Campbell Magnay only signed a one year deal in Japan, but I’ll stand corrected. It would be possible that a two-year deal with the truncated upcoming season (due to the RWC) could still have him back in Australia by Christmas, I think..

        • July 5th 2018 @ 6:09pm
          Daveski said | July 5th 2018 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

          That’s a pity re Jones. Too good to only play one test…

    • Roar Guru

      July 5th 2018 @ 6:51am
      taylorman said | July 5th 2018 @ 6:51am | ! Report

      Ive a feeling the Highlanders might tip over the Crusaders after last weeks effort but otherwise will go with the wise men on the rest but no, as I change that mid sentence and will go with the Blues to do their usual end of season party spoiling for a Blues win here in a chilly but fine and still Wellington morning.

      There will be an upset this round for you wise men all bathing in the same pool of safe picks, Ill promise you that.😀

      Brett should the semis really be called the Peni’s then? 😆

      • July 5th 2018 @ 8:02am
        Tissot Time said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        And if the semis did not rise to the occasion or expectations they maybe described as being limp or a flaccid performance.

      • Columnist

        July 5th 2018 @ 3:21pm
        Brett McKay said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

        Sorry, TM, I initially thought you were making some kind of obscure Chance Peni reference there (for which I was trying to think of a snappy line about half the games being suspended), but yes indeed, the Semis should be called the Peni’s!!

        (and yes, the apostrophe IS needed, else we’re calling the semis something entirely different…)

      • July 6th 2018 @ 7:29am
        moa said | July 6th 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

        Have you seen the whale TM?

    • Roar Guru

      July 5th 2018 @ 6:56am
      taylorman said | July 5th 2018 @ 6:56am | ! Report

      Good news for Drongo, I know how hard hes fought for this!


      • July 5th 2018 @ 8:27am
        jameswm said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        Interesting. There were some ifs in there though.

        The knockers need to understand Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you can’t see the clear changes in play and culture you’re not watching. And no doubt it’s more noticeable off the field.

        I want young forwards like Tupou, Rodda and Tui to spend as much time under Thorn as possible.

        • July 5th 2018 @ 10:37am
          Reality Check said | July 5th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Of course you would, meanwhile the backline flounders and the Reds cannot score points.

          • July 5th 2018 @ 10:55am
            jameswm said | July 5th 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

            The backline isn’t Thorn’s job. His job is above all culture, but also forwards, and defence.

            Thorn is a reliable, consistent, successful, tough and grounded guy. The perfect role model for this new breed of Qld forwards.

            • July 5th 2018 @ 11:03am
              Reality Check said | July 5th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

              So are saying the ” Head ” coach has no input into the backline. ? It`s not his ” job ” as you say .That`ll do me.

              • July 5th 2018 @ 12:15pm
                jameswm said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                No, that’s not what I said.

            • Roar Guru

              July 5th 2018 @ 12:41pm
              PeterK said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

              BT has seemingly improved the culture and attitude.

              He has improved an already good scrum.

              His has improved the physicality.

              His focus on defence has been a failure though, he has shipped in a lot of points.

              The attack has gone backwards.

              The team is predictable with no plan b.

              IMO a big risk (and the wrong move) to look at locking in for 10 years.

              He needs to show he can keep imrpoing, he is a rookie coach, he has plateaued.

              • July 5th 2018 @ 5:52pm
                Chivas said | July 5th 2018 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                Plateaued in his first year. Hard marker PK. Stability versus a revolving door supported by the average fickle fan.

                I appreciate you are commenting about the length of tenure, but much of the noise building up is whether he should Ben in the job at all… and suggestions he has plateaued to me feeds into this.

                I’m happy with a revolving door and seeing the Reds stuck on bottom, but I would think fans would be looking for positives rather than bemoaning the fact there isn’t a silver bullet to instantly turn the team to top of the table contenders.

                I am hoping Thorn does well and will bring in others to address specific weaknesses. The administration seems to have faith in him. So why all the knockers.

          • Roar Guru

            July 6th 2018 @ 12:10pm
            ThugbyFan said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

            It’s interesting that the Brisbane City coach has stated that he doesn’t want QuadeC. nor KonradH. in his NRC team this year. Personally I think he has been leaned on by the QRU to ban the pair.

            The other two blokes on the Reds books are also in Brissie and available, James Slipper and Nick Frisby, anyone know what’s happening with those two?

            I suspect the Reds payroll is shelling out more loot for players unwanted for various reasons, than those that are actually getting game time. Amazing when you look at the injury list in the backline.

            • July 6th 2018 @ 12:46pm
              JP said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

              From word ive heard around Brisbane town. The NRC coaches have been instructed not to select Frisby or Slipper as well as Hunt and QC.

        • July 5th 2018 @ 12:03pm
          Fionn said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          The Reds’ defence hasn’t really been crash hot. In their last 5 matches they have conceded 39, 52, 18, 38 and 63 points.

          • July 5th 2018 @ 12:14pm
            jameswm said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

            I do realise that…

            • Roar Guru

              July 6th 2018 @ 10:39am
              Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

              They concede more tries and missed tackles per game than last year.

              • July 6th 2018 @ 1:02pm
                JP said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

                And the season hasn’t finished yet. Thorns Reds could set a new Australian Rugby Super record for most missed tackles and tries conceded in a season. So much for his
                ” Defence ” he was mumbling about.

      • July 5th 2018 @ 10:11am
        Reality Check said | July 5th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        The sleeper Thorn 10 year coach. ? Seriously a spud like Thorn as 10 year coach? That`s why chairman Jeff Miller was a shocking Reds coach himself and no one wanted to play for him like Thorn.

        ” Reds coach Jeff Miller has been sacked by the Queensland Rugby Union and not even winning a Super 14 title next season will save him, it was reported today. In Jeff Miller’s first season, 2004, Queensland won only five Super 12 games but was blighted by the loss of five five-eighths during the course of the campaign. This year’s campaign collapsed when the Reds became the first team targeted by the Western Force — when Queensland captain Nathan Sharpe announced he was joining the Perth expansion club, the floodgates opened.”

        Miller has no idea when spotting talent and quality.Well I suppose the Reds will play in front of crowds of 5k next year.

        • July 5th 2018 @ 5:55pm
          Chivas said | July 5th 2018 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

          So Thorn is a spud and players don’t want to play for him? Did you make that up or have it on good authority?

          • July 6th 2018 @ 9:48am
            Reality Check said | July 6th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

            Well if they are listening and playing for him,They don’t show it or his game plan is non existent.

      • Columnist

        July 5th 2018 @ 3:25pm
        Brett McKay said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

        interesting leap from the quote implying the QRU would like Thorn on board for the next ten years to a headline and lede that they’ll be dangling a 10-year contract in front of him!!

        • Roar Guru

          July 6th 2018 @ 10:40am
          Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          Yeah I bag the Reds admin as much as the next bloke but it’s a PR line. Meaningless.

    • Columnist

      July 5th 2018 @ 7:23am
      Geoff Parkes said | July 5th 2018 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      Just to clarify – not all of the tips are the same.

      The table at the bottom is correct, as is the commentary. I have tipped the Stormers over the Sharks.
      Apologies for writing Sharks in the list directly underneath our names – that’s what happens when you change your mind five times…

      • Columnist

        July 5th 2018 @ 8:19am
        Brett McKay said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        Dammit!! The one bloody difference to bugger up!!

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2018 @ 8:27am
          Nobrain said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

          We miss a big chance of a perfect round for all of us.😀

          • Roar Guru

            July 5th 2018 @ 9:39pm
            Harry Jones said | July 5th 2018 @ 9:39pm | ! Report

            If my Stormers win this one, and Geoff gets the spoils, I’m gonna be beyond mad!!!!!!