I’ve been in Harry’s current perilous state. Several times, actually.
It’s not fun. You rethink certain tips. You rethink certain rounds of tipping. You rethink agreeing to join the tipping panel in the first place.
But of course, Harry’s not alone this weekend. In Super Rugby tipping comps throughout the rugby world, there are people toward the bottom end of the table lovingly looking upwards.
But this is their week to shine. This is their week to stand out from the crowd. This is their final chance to go out looking like tipping freakin’ geniuses!
What can Harry produce? Let’s give him the honour and find out…
ROUND 18: Geoff 5; Everyone else 4.
OVERALL: Nobes and Geoff 77; The Crowd 72; Digger and Brett 71; Harry 66.
TIPS: HURRICANES, REDS, HIGHLANDERS, BLUES, WARATAHS, BULLS, SHARKS.
Sometimes we learn more from losing. Sometimes the losers are the winners. Sometimes losing purifies our souls.
This week, a number of surprising things will occur. The Bulls will surprise the Lions in the brutal Gauteng derby. Handre Polland is igniting the backline and getting great service from lightning quick Embrose Papier. Papier-to-Pollard could be a Bok combo soon. Also, the woeful Sharks will sneak into the playoffs, because the Rebels will fall in Dunedin, and the Jaguares will continue to be more Puma-like than Jaguaresque.
The Hurricanes will win by a little less than plenty, and the Reds will scrum the Sunwolves into the sea. Which leaves with a couple of derbies to predict: Waratahs or Brumbies? Tahs, but the real excitement will be to know whether Foley or Beale will end up as regular season tackler-misser leader. Crusaders or Blues?
I see this coming down to the last seconds, and wait for it, BLUES!!!!!!!
SURE THING: We will hear a lot of mumbling about cards. In fact, we are in a Card Era. Back in 2006, the total number of yellow cards issued in Super Rugby for a season was 36. From 2007-2013, the season yellow card total ranged between 53 and 75.
In 2016 and 2017, with 18 teams, there were 94 and 143 yellow cards handed out, respectively. 2017 was also a big year for red cards (14). 2018 has actually been a quieter year for cards: 87 yellows and five reds, so far. It’s probably just about who is getting them.
TIPS: CHIEFS, REDS, HIGHLANDERS, CRUSADERS, BRUMBIES, LIONS, SHARKS
It’s not unusual in the final round for the form book to go out the window as some sides – for different reasons – start thinking about other things.
Big Macca is no little Macca, which weakens the Chiefs, but Sam Lousi is no Brodie. Chiefs at home. Reds too, at home. Expect a lot of scrums.
The Rebels had to win one of their final three matches to make the finals. Unfortunately, this was never the winnable one, with the Highlanders itching to get back under their roof. Unfortunately for Blues fans, there’s no disguising the class difference in Christchurch.
The most enticing match of the round awaits in Sydney. Given that the Tahs scored 77 points last week, bear with me while I somehow claim that the Brumbies are in better form. Plus, they have Pocock.
The Lions need momentum and must win. To finish the round, I’ve had no idea about the Jaguares all season. This week is no exception, but the Sharks can start packing for Christchurch.
SURE THING: The Blues board announces that they have full confidence in their coach Tana Umaga and confirm they have arranged for Umaga and his players to enjoy an off-season, team-bonding caving expedition in Thailand.
TIPS: CHIEFS, REDS, HIGHLANDERS, CRUSADERS, WARATAHS, LIONS, SHARKS.
Woooohhh! What a season has been !! decider games right to the last round before the play off amid a few surprising results in Round 18.
Round 19 will not only tell us who is in or who is out of the finals, but also who is going to take the ‘lucky’ eighth spot for the finals and be rewarded with a beautiful sightseeing trip to Christchurch where a warm welcome from the Crusaders is awaiting.
Jaguares could take that spot, but also depending in some other results can end third, fifth, or seventh. So, they can go from home field advantage to an extensive travel, or remain in South Africa, where they will be playing the Sharks this final round, who also are fighting for that last spot.
I would not want to be the one in charge of the Jags travel arrangements for sure, which proves that Super Rugby is one of the toughest competitions on the planet and not only for the players.
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My tips for this round are so simple that I do not have to think much about it: I will go with all home teams and cross my fingers that the personnel in charge of officiating these games will not be ones that resolve the outcome of any of them.
All home teams with the exception of the Crusaders and Reds have something meaningful to play for, that will have a direct effect in their playoff hopes.
Then, Crusaders are the Crusaders everywhere and who will dare to tip against them at home.
The Reds players would like to make sure that will have a place in the team for next season if the “big” ten-year contract is signed by Brad Thorn. In front will be the Sunwolves that have not travel well.
SURE THING: I am pleased with Jaguares’ performance this year no matter what happens to them in the playoffs. I think that they have been an entraining team to watch and have proved that can be a challenge to the rest of the teams on the road as well as at home.
TIPS: HURRICANES, REDS, HIGHLANDERS, CRUSADERS, WARATAHS, LIONS, JAGUARES
So, here’s the thing: last week looked pretty bog standard to me, and the panel agreed; Geoff’s unfortunately accurate selection of the Stormers to beat the Sharks being the only point of difference. Even The Crowd agreed, picking exactly the same as us.
This week looks similarly bog standard to me, but I’m surrounded by blokes who’ve decided Round 19 is the time of the year to start thinking outside the square!
The Chiefs without D-Mac and Sam Cane? I don’t think so. The Moondogs? Sadly, no.
I want to give the Rebels a shot under the roof, but if they couldn’t put the ‘Tahs away at home a fortnight ago and couldn’t hold out the Reds when they most needed to put out a finals-like performance, then it’s hard to have much confidence in them. Akira and Reiko in Christchurch? Give me a break…
The Lions will gear up for the finals by feasting on beef, and Argentineans are similarly known for their love of seafood. They’re all obvious to me. I don’t know what my learned colleagues are thinking?
But this is why I’m picking the Waratahs: Brumbies CEO Michael Thomson, I’ve discovered, is not just a regular reader of this column, but evidently takes note of my tips. But I haven’t heard from him in a few weeks, and I reckon that coincides with me picking against the Brumbies and them playing well. So, in the interests of having the Brumbies finish the season well, I’ll lump myself with the opposition again. You’re welcome, Michael.
SURE THING: Akira and Reiko to have a quiet night, only for the 13 other blokes to turn out the upset of the season and end the Crusaders’ winning streak at home…
TIPS: HURRICANES, REDS, HIGHLANDERS, CRUSADERS, WARATAHS, LIONS, SHARKS
Coming in live from Surfers on my phone where it is hot in the sun, cold in the shade and everyone is out of the cave, a happy day.
Canes by plenty, backing the Reds to finish their season off with a bang also.
Highlanders to all it on a show for their last home game of the season and I expect the Crusader machine to keep on rolling on.
A tasty Oz derby but you have to back the Tahs in the end while the home sides in The South of Africa appeal, Lions and I will back the Sharks to continue their season of up and down with an up this week.
SURE THING: There will be some exciting matches to look forward to in the finals but this will be overlooked for putting the boot into the Blues, condemnation of the finals format, ‘check check’ and an unruly end of season event will dominate thoughts and minds.
Get your votes in now – The Crowd’s tips will be revealed Friday afternoon AEDT.
Who have you got, Roarers? Who gets your tip for the final round of the season?
And yes, we will keep going through the finals…