Well, there may be no better illustration of how crazy Super Rugby is going this year than considering this crazy little circle of craziness that was completed last weekend.
Firstly, in Round 1, the Lions went to Buenos Aires and beat the Jaguares 25-16. We didn’t think too much of it at the time; things like that happen all the time in the first week.
But then in Round 8 the Sharks went up onto the veldt and thumped the Lions at Ellis Park 42-5. What do the Sharks have to do with this, I hear you ask?
Well, last week the Sharks returned home to Durban and were thumped themselves, 51-17. By the Jaguares.
So the Jaguares lost at home to the Lions, who lost at home to the Sharks, who lost at home to the Jaguares. Suffice to say, all five of us on the panel and all of you in the crowd got all three tips wrong.
And that, Roarers, is Super Rugby in 2019. Best of luck this weekend!
Nobes and Digger: 4; Brett, Geoff, Harry and The Crowd: 3.
Nobes: 37; Digger: 36; Harry and The Crowd: 34; Brett and Geoff: 31.
None to report! The Rebels losing at home to the Stormers brought everyone undone, but even with 90.4 per cent of voting last week this is still only the fourth-highest-ranking incorrect Crowd pick.
Chiefs, Hurricanes, Sharks, Blues, Waratahs, Stormers
It is something worrying that the two games that I failed in Round 9 the winners were visitors and very strong in their game. So much for home-field advantage! It does not leave me very safe for this next commitment, which seems pretty diabolic for different situations on and off the courts.
The Chiefs won a very difficult game last weekend and the Lions – at least the Lions we used to know – did not show up. Despite losing their star player, the Chiefs should win this game at home.
I have no idea which players will represent the Hurricanes in Tokyo, and that makes me a little nervous in this game, but in normal conditions the Canes have to be favourites. The Sharks must be wondering what happened to them last weekend, but they are a team that plays well one game and badly the next, and against the Reds it is their turn to play well again.
The Blues finished their chain of triumphs last weekend but did not play badly. I like them to restart a new chain of triumphs against the Highlanders.
Waratahs are in a game they must win if they want to maintain their play-off hopes alive. They aren’t gone if they lose, but it will be a very steep climb for them if they do. With all the off-field situation this past week, it’s difficult to judge how the players will react. But I did not see the Rebels play well against the Stormers, so I’m going with the Sydney players.
The Australian teams do not have a good time in South Africa and this will not be the exception for the Brumbies, even though the Stormers will debut a flyhalf from what I read.
Sure thing: I’ll miss two excellent and electrifying fullbacks who will not play again, at least this season.
Chiefs, Hurricanes, Sharks, Highlanders, Rebels, Stormers
First off, Canes by plenty.
Chiefs at home should be too solid for a travelling Lions side, while the Sharks? I dunno, flat out don’t know – brilliant one week, awful the next, and as they were awful last week, let’s go for brilliant this week.
Highlanders and Blues shapes as a beauty, and I’m leaning one way then another. But the Blues still don’t have my faith they can win away just yet, so I am picking the Highlanders will be more desperate for a win this week and motivated after a second-half touch-up last weekend.
Who really knows if the recent distractions will have galvanised the Waratahs squad or perhaps had a negative impact on the team, but I am picking focus could be an issue for them and something the Rebels have not had to directly endure, so I will plump for the Rebels to win at the SCG, which most in attendance will not get to really see.
As for the last game, which shall be dubbed the ‘battle of the rolling mauls’, again I cannot make up my mind. The Stormers are at home, but their month’s travel surely eliminates the Brumbies travel fatigue factor. But this is a Brumbies side that couldn’t beat a Rebels side, which lost at home to the Stormers minus a few big names. I dunno – coin toss, heads for Stormers. It’s heads. Let’s go with that.
Sure thing: I am expecting a Ben Lam hat-trick, a dour game in Sydney and at least one yellow per match this round given recent chatter about the number of warnings and no action taken in recent times.
Chiefs, Hurricanes, Sharks, Highlanders, Rebels, Stormers
I’m really looking forward to this round because for the first time in 2019 I think I will genuinely see every minute of every game live.
And the round is set up beautifully – prime time both Friday and Saturday nights in New Zealand, Australia and Japan and then 3pm kick-off both days in South Africa, equating to 11pm on the Australian east coast.
It seems like a funny little thing, but I genuinely think that’s the perfect way forward. Good kick-off times in all three countries on both Friday and Saturday nights. I genuinely can’t wait for it.
Here’s the only thing I know for sure: away teams are still only winning 40 per cent of games in 2019, which equates to no more than two out of six this weekend. The Hurricanes will be one of them and the Rebels the other one. And that’s a shame because I give the Blues and Brumbies a really good chance. But rules are rules.
Sure thing: Four – no, five away wins this weekend.
Chiefs, Sunwolves, Sharks, Highlanders, Rebels, Brumbies
It is as if Brando’s Colonel Kurtz is watching over this tipping competition. “The horror! The horror!”
One of the Chiefs’ most famous players is known for his love of whitebait. He also likes to feast on crab – Ross Cronje and his fellow Lions will be no match for the Chiefs. As will the Reds be no match for the wildly swinging Sharks. Not swinging in the way that might find them on a certain Instagram hit-list, but wild form swings that have them on every tipster’s hate list.
It would be handy to know if the Canes are resting any of their big names or not, but on the off-chance they are, and noting that Tony Brown promised that we’ll see the real deal from his side this week, and he appeals as a man of his word, I’m going for a Sunwolves upset in Tokyo.
The Highlanders-Blues match should be a ripper. The Landers have come out on the wrong side of a few close ones this year, and it’s time for their luck to change. I’m not putting any store into the Waratahs being disrupted by the Israel Folau matter and losing as a result, I just think they find themselves in the wrong place in the wrong week – the Rebels are angry that they let standards slip last week.
The Stormers were very impressive last week but the Brumbies weren’t too shabby either, and they generally tour pretty well, so this one goes to the visitors.
Sure thing: There will be more people watching the Waratahs vs Rebels match in the pubs of Paddington than actually inside the SCG. And enjoying a better view.
Chiefs, Sharks, Hurricanes, Highlanders, Rebel, Stormers
The Lions have Elton Jantjies, he of the long pause, the telegraphed cross kick, the tangential tackles, and then, yes, the sublime moments. The Chiefs have Brodie Retallick and a Canadian. Chiefs by 13.
The Canes by plenty. Plenty means 15. The Sharks host the Reds in a swimming pool. The ball will squeeze and giggle out of Hamish and Angus’s rough hands. Curwin Bosch to run circles around the pedestrian visitors. Sharks by 14.
The Highlanders and Blues will play the match of the round, with Hansenesque duels all across the park. Utility back and backup wing and outside centre reserve and blindside bouncer and fifth lock and third hooker are up for grabs. I say the Blues do something regrettable, possibly deviant. Highlanders by 16.
The Rebels are mad. Filthy. Incensed. Humiliated. Seething. Smouldering. Will Genia will rub himself out of the bottle, and zap the unlucky Tahs, who keep having players pretend to be cows or preachers or sausages or pudding or Noddy and going walkabout. Rebels by 17.
At Newlands, the Brumbies will be exposed. They are just not that good this year. PSDT is back, having welcomed a little baby into the world, as tall already as a scrum half, and finally, Fleckie says he will start a new flyhalf, as it has become clear Jean-Luc is not his father.
Sure thing: Everyone will check clause 1A(ib) this week in their contract of employment, and do some erasing and deleting of tweets.
Get your votes in now – The Crowd’s tips will be revealed Friday afternoon AEST.
Who have you got, Roarers? Who gets your tip this weekend?