I worry about this round, Roarers.
On paper, and you’ll see this among the panel tips, a lot of games look relatively easy to pick. And that’s despite them probably looming as really good games to come. But they just look obvious.
And we know what this means, don’t we? Yep, this round is not going to end well. Take note of my point below about unanimous tips.
ROUND 8: Nobes, Digger, and The Crowd 5; Brett 4; Geoff and Harry 3
OVERALL: Nobes 33; Digger 32; Harry and The Crowd 31; Brett and Geoff 28
TIPS: CRUSADERS, REBELS, CHIEFS, BRUMBIES, SHARKS, BULLS.
Everything was going as planned in Round 8, but the first warning signal was when the Bulls announced their players to face the Jaguares. That opened that game to a 50-50.
Then, the most unexpected came when the Sharks dismantled the Lions all over the pitch with an extremely surprising result not only for me, but I think for everyone and I am sure it was a ‘bookie’s’ special.
As it could not be otherwise, Round 9 also has several difficult games to predict also:
We start with the only safe bet that the Crusaders are at home on the Highlanders.
The leaders of the Australian conference will receive some Stormers who seem to have lost their way and are more likely to continue that way. The Chiefs seem in clear recovery and it’s time for the Blues to take a break from their winning streak.
The Brumbies saved players last weekend and will face some very hurt Lions, but be aware of a hurting lion. It will not be easy for the ponies.
And what about the Sharks? A bipolar team that can have a great performance one weekend and then a terrible one the next. Jaguares should not win this game apparently from what both teams showed last weekend, but the Jags are unpredictable, and if they can keep the game close until middle of the second half anything can happen.
Finally, the Bulls will put everything they have and should beat the Reds.
SURE THING: If you have only one game to watch this weekend, I would go with Chiefs versus Blues. For me is the game of the round.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, REBELS, CHIEFS, BRUMBIES, SHARKS, BULLS
Crusaders at home are the ‘must tip’ of the comp but the Highlanders should bring some fire to the occasion while the Rebels at home should be far too strong for a Stormers side that must be weary after a month away.
The Chiefs and the Blues? I just don’t know, hard to gauge where the Chiefs are at after a week off but obviously trending upwards at an alarming rate beforehand, while the Blues have been steadily building and winning. But they have all been at Eden Park.
In the end I will say the Chiefs as the Blues still don’t have my trust to travel well as yet, even if only an hour or so down the highway.
The balance tend to pick themselves and I will run with all the home sides, though I would be wary of the Lions after the thrashing they endured last weekend and would expect they will be fired up to prove a point.
And who really knows which Sharks side will front up?
SURE THING: Will be the most boring round of Super Rugby this season with the Hurricanes having the bye but hopefully this week I can watch some decent lineouts.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, REBELS, BLUES, BRUMBIES, SHARKS, BULLS
Well, I just don’t see any obvious differences this week. There are no earth-shattering points of difference in any games, and on paper they all look pretty obvious.
The South Island derbies are always rippers, and this will be just another one. Do I give the Highlanders a chance? Absolutely. Is that chance enough to tip them as the breaker of the Crusaders 23-game unbeaten streak at home? Nope, not quite.
And the Rebels will be the Stormers well. As will the Sharks over the Jaguares. Though perhaps not ‘as well’. The Brumbies need to win at home because their season depends on it. The Lions will give them plenty of opportunity.
And I’d love for this young Reds side to be the first group of Queenslanders to win at Loftus since Eales or Horan and co back in 2001. But I don’t think they will.
That just leaves the Blues. And I’m going to pick them. I figure that they will burn me one way or another, so on the off-chance they burn me by continuing to win, then I’ll get something out of it.
SURE THING: Beware the unanimous tip – The Lions lost last week with all five panellists and 89per cent of The Crowd’s votes, and the Bulls did the same with 86per cent. The Waratahs lost with 86per cent on board in Round 7, the Crusaders with 95per cent in Round 6, and the Sharks with 91per cent in Round 3. There’s a lot of unanimous tips here already…
(And yes, we’ve got just as many unanimous tips right, but that’s a long list of obvious tips going awry. Don’t say you weren’t warned.)
TIPS: CRUSADERS, REBELS, BLUES, BRUMBIES, SHARKS, BULLS
Following Harry’s tips last week proved to be a flawed strategy. Time to return to figuring things out for myself.
The Crusaders are a reliable starting point. And if I get that one wrong, I’ll hardly be on my own. And surely the Rebels are a lock at home against the faltering Stormers.
There’s a lot of hunger in the Melbourne camp, and I really liked how the bench players are busting their backsides when they get an opportunity.
If the Blues can win four in a row, why not five? They’ll win, as will the Brumbies, in what is a season-defining match at home against the Lions.
I haven’t got the Jaguares right all year, so tipping the Sharks will probably set them up for another win. Not so lucky for the Reds, the Bulls will have a stronger side in this week and will go on with the job.
SURE THING: Having heard the criticism, Michael Cheika will plan on Friday night to watch a tape of Wales versus England, then hook up for an initial chat with his fellow selectors. But instead he’ll wake up on Saturday morning in a cold sweat, muttering ‘what the hell was I thinking?”, before heading off to watch the Shute Shield.
TIPS: CHRISTCHURCH, MELBOURNE, HAMILTON, JO’BURG, DURBAN, PRETORIA.
Last round, I overvalued home cooking in this fickle multi-hemispheric tourney. The truth is, absent bonus point magic, and with the exception of the sublime Christchurch Xers, and the outmanned Sunwolves, there’s nothing between these up-and-down squads: the rest of the teams have all lost three or four games.
So, I was wrong on my modality. But in philosophy, I was right. There is an organising principle: it’s “by this stage, you are who you are.”
It’s just that home-and-away doesn’t apply to the thirteen 3-4 or 4-3 teams. This round, I will switch to a point differential mode. After eight rounds, you are not a good team if you are minus, with one variable: are the Chiefs really 18 points worse than the Blues, in Hamilton?
So, here goes. The Xers are about 100 points better than the Highlanders. Christchurch by 10. Melbourne’s professional team is 80 points better than the Western Province Under-23 team; Rebels by 10.
I apply my exception to the Hamilton derby: the Chiefs are not really 50 points worse than the Blues. Chiefs by a whisker.
The Canberra match is a game between two poor teams. The record shows the Lions are less worse than the Brumbies. Lions. Because of some error by CLL.
The Sharks are a better team than the Jaguares. Will they remember that? Yes. Sharks by plenty over a weary Jags band. The Bulls rebound well from humiliation; and it helps to have your skipper back. Bulls by a few oxygen canisters.
SURE THING: Even though the total number of offloads is down this year, they are even more decisive due to rush defences and lax offsides officiating. Game-breakers!
Get your votes in now – The Crowd’s tips will be revealed Friday afternoon AEDT.
Who have you got, Roarers? Who gets your tip this weekend?