Honestly Bulls, you had one job.
You’d done the hard work the week before, treating the Stormers like a mildly opposed training run and beating them in such submission that they wore the wrong playing strip a week later.
All they had to do was go to Argentina and play exactly the same way – even if only at 80-90 per cent – to overrun the Jaguares in the last game of the weekend.
(And yes, give me a perfect round, but this isn’t about me!)
Nobes had similar frustrations about the Chiefs, though if there’s small mercies about missing a perfect round by one, it’s surely easier to swallow when dropping that one early in the round.
Limited differences in our picks last week meant two things: we all scored pretty well, and Harry’s claim that Round 2 would be “easy” was also on the money.
ROUND 2: Nobes and Brett 6; Geoff 5; Digger, Harry, and The Crowd 4
OVERALL: Geoff and Nobes 9; Brett, Harry, and The Crowd 8; Digger 6
TIPS: HURRICANES, REBELS, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, LIONS, SHARKS, JAGUARES.
Just one season ago, all the matches that involved New Zealand teams against Australian teams were an automatic tip in favour of the first ones. Today I only have doubts if the Brumbies won’t beat the Hurricanes in their land.
I cannot stop betting on the Hurricanes, Chiefs, and Crusaders as winners in their respective matches. BB is back, for the Chiefs is last call, and Crusaders are the only team that has shown a resounding game despite losing a valuable point at the last moment last week.
The Rebels seem to be the only ones who can win if the Highlanders do not pull another rabbit out of the galley at the last moment.
The conference in South Africa became a game of Russian roulette to try to predict any results. In spite of everything the safe bet is to go for the three teams that play at home.
Lions do not lose at home and the Bulls lost some soldiers in Buenos Aires. The Stormers can hardly defeat the Sharks playing away.
Jaguares game is very difficult to predict since the Blues play very different from the African teams and may find adaptation difficulties against the Liwi style. But in doubt I go for the home team.
SURE THING: I will have no nails to bite by the time the Jaguares play in Buenos Aires while prices of TVs will be in full rise in New Zealand.
TIPS: BRUMBIES, REBELS, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, LIONS, SHARKS, JAGUARES
Stupid Bulls. Yes, I’m still annoyed. One job.
Anyway, this week is an interesting round, and we all appear to be on similar wavelengths. Which doesn’t aid trying to narrow a gap or build a lead.
Which means I’m sticking with the Brumbies! The ‘Canes have started a bit slowly, their All Black contingent is only just returning – and may or may not still be connected electronically to Steve Hansen’s remote control, which sends a little jolt of electricity down the line to remind them they’re not allowed to run at full noise before Easter.
Plus, why shouldn’t we back them after last week? Do it again, Brumbies; I dare you.
Said Hansen remote has already hooked the Highlanders’ AB contingent out, so the Rebels at home should be too good. The Chiefs at home get the benefit of the doubt; the mighty Moondogs are on the prowl.
Crusaders in Brisbane, and hopefully not by many. In fact, I’m prepared to sacrifice this tip for the greater good.
Lions over the Bulls because of spite and my first line above. Sharks over the Stormers by some margin, and Jaguares at home over the Blues by slightly less.
SURE THING: The SANZAAR jersey clash police will spend the next couple of days convincing themselves the Lions’ and Bulls’ comic hero strips don’t clash. And they’ll be wrong. Again.
TIPS: HURRICANES, REBELS, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, LIONS, SHARKS, BLUES
What a different complexion there is around Super Rugby this year, with the Australian franchises seemingly competitive again. Which on one hand is great, but on the other hand, only makes tipping more difficult.
I’m certain the Brumbies performance last week won’t be a flash in the pan, but the ‘Canes get some premium cattle back this week and, to use the current buzz-phrase, ‘took some good learnings’ from their loss in Christchurch.
Can’t wait to see the Rebels at home, I think they’ll go on with the job against the Highlanders. The Chiefs look vulnerable to me, but the safe bet is always against the Sunwolves away.
And I think the Reds are in for a deja-vu experience – dishing it up to the Crusaders before falling agonisingly short, to a last-minute Mitchell Hunt goal.
The wacky South African conference is very hard to pick; let’s try the Lions and the Sharks at home, but with low levels of confidence.
To finish the round, the Jaguares defensive organisation and discipline was impressive last week, but I think the Blues were better than their score indicated. Look for them to open their account in a tight contest.
SURE THING: Lions flanker Marnus Schoeman, after being allowed back onto the field after serving only eight minutes of his sin-bin period, against the Stormers, will be forced to sit out the first two minutes of this week’s match against the Bulls.
TIPS: HURRICANES, REBELS, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, LIONS, SHARKS, JAGUARES
Home. What is home? Is Palmerston North the home of the Hurricanes? Where is the spiritual home of the Sunwolves?
Do we play better at home, arising from our perfectly slept-in conjugal beds, and eating our habitual porridge? Or are the referees just our subliminal allies, fearing the opprobrium of the baying hordes?
Round 3 is a home round. But is Palmerston “home?” I hear Diggercane has a dark history in that place. He was an exotic dancer to pay off his gambling debts at a place called Hutt Boyz.
He was the Huttiest Hutt Boy.
But I digress.
Canes by a BBBBBloody drop goal (Hansen’s orders, pre-Rugby World Cup). Rebels by a contentious bad call. Chiefs gravel past the wee multinational Wolf Cubs. Crusaders are at home everywhere, even in Joburg, which is actually a miracle for anyone.
Lions pip the weary, Lood-less Bulletjies, and the Borg-like Sharks run over the joyless Stormers. The Blues will play like parsons in Argentina, which is a place you need to play more like a gaucho in.
SURE THING: The South African derbies will not be a marvel.
TIPS: HURRICANES, REBELS, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, LIONS, SHARKS, JAGUARES
The Brumbies are certainly the form side after the second round. They are playing with confidence and continuity and are a team that the ‘Canes have historically struggled with.
There should be some key personnel back on board but that doesn’t help the lineout much which was diabolical and up against an excellent set piece side I will be going for the shock selection despite playing at home and say ‘Canes by plenty – backed up by no real reason other than Beauden Barrett is really good.
AB minutes has me leaning to the Rebels side of the equation for Melbourne and surely the Chiefs at home will be hell bent on making amends after the last two weeks of disappointment against the Sunwolves.
Crusaders will also be suffering a bit from the AB virus but they have shown their depth and ability on more than a few occasions so will back them tentatively against what seems to be a resurgent Reds side with a brand-new statue for all to admire.
The Lions and Sharks at home seem the logical choice to make and so it shall be while the Blues enigma continues to give me indigestion, they fill me with as much confidence as a Malcolm Marx lineout throw but you just have to consider them regardless but despite my new man crush for Tom Robinson, the new Tito 2.0, I will back the Jaguares at home.
SURE THING: Hurricanes lineout will struggle, Brumbies will score minimum one try from a rolling maul and Tom Robinson will be really good again and I will have to find a better excuse to come up with for the missus as to why I need a new TV. Suggestions welcome.
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 Round 3?