They say that the knockout stages are a whole new competition, then I can’t think of a better idea than winding the scoreboards back to zero from this weekend and starting again.
Plus, it also gives Geoff a chance to restart his Tipping Panel title defence.
Also, might bring Digger back to earth a bit after wrapping up the ‘pre-season’ stage of the Tipping Panel.
Of course, this might all just be a wind up. Let’s get into the Playoffs!
ROUND 18: Everyone but Brett 6; Brett 5. Stupid Rebels. Stupid Stormers.
OVERALL: Digger 75, Nobes and The Crowd 74, Harry 69, Geoff 66, Brett 65.
PERFECT ROUNDS: Heaps of you! Rugby Tragic! (Who didn’t pick the Blues!) Nobody! Also Carlin! Charging Rhino! JRVJ! Congrats to all of you.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, JAGUARES, HURRICANES, BRUMBIES
I am excited about these quarter-finals and I am unsure that they may be as straight forward as some may think.
The Highlanders have nothing to lose, probably with thoughts of their season over during last weekend they now have a sniff and you only have to think back to 2015 to know how dangerous they can be when written off but the Crusaders are at home and it is hard to look past their recent seasons and conditioning to success so certainly the safe option here.
The Jaguares and Chiefs has me tied up in knots, I just do not know where I stand on this one. We know how good the Jags have been this season and certainly have the experience within the side but this is a new type of pressure and experience, hosting the franchise’s first ever Super Rugby play-off appearance brings a whole new level of expectation.
The Chiefs are well versed in knockout matches from the past eight seasons and have a reasonable record of travelling overseas for such fixtures plus the confidence of knowing they can win in Buenos Aires as they did earlier in the season, tough one but I have settled on the Jaguares for one reason, they can make the breakdown a living nightmare and have done so for many sides this season.
If they can take the pace out of the game and keep the Chiefs static, I think they can win the day.
The Bulls certainly have the pack to make things very difficult for the Hurricanes and have shown playing in New Zealand is no barrier to them but in the end, two draws don’t make a right and surely, if one can only draw against the Blues who then go on to lose to a Hurricanes seconds, yeah, nah, Canes by one or Canes by fifty, doesn’t really matter, ‘cos both are plenty.
Lastly, Canberra where the Brumbies host a Sharks side who no one knows what they are going to produce. We know they are not scared of travelling and certainly will not have any fear of the Brumbies but how do you back them with any certainty? Yes, they can win but I know what I am going to get from the Brumbies, their consistency and what I see as greater cohesion make them my pick here.
SURE THING: Smith will chirp, Read will look underdone, Creevy will wear a puzzled expression, Cane will bleed, Snyman will smile, Savea will look absolutely knackered, Banks will look small and all the Du Preez will look grumpy.
And someone, somewhere will point out Glen Jackson used to play for the Chiefs. Again. Like I didn’t know it. Again. It’s a great game this one!
TIPS: CRUSADERS, JAGUARES, HURRICANES, BRUMBIES.
Finished the regular season of a fascinating year of Super Rugby and finally we have the eight teams in the playoffs already defined.
Some of them qualifying in the last play almost like an act of magic by David Copperfield leaving some fans without words and breathless for a few minutes, while other teams resting players to face the defining part of the tournament.
Crusaders will open the series in a New Zealand derby against Highlanders. These teams already met once with the triumph of the first and the rematch could not be played by the tragic events in Christchurch.
The Crusaders will continue at home until the final.
The Chiefs are up and they know what it is to win in Buenos Aires. Both teams are with high morale and confident in their game and for me it is the most difficult game to predict of the four. I trust that Jaguares will take it forward.
The team that won the most this year receives at home well-travelled Bulls, who qualified after defeating the Lions. The Hurricanes were only defeated by the Crusaders and Jaguares this year, but they did not face the Bulls who got two draws in the All Blacks’ lands but lost in their home the two games that faced teams from those islands. Canes in my opinion.
The representative of the Australian conference will receive the Sharks who in my opinion are the weakest team of the eight qualifiers. The Brumbies have been playing good rugby and should beat them with some ease.
SURE THING: No upsets.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, CHIEFS, HURRICANES, BRUMBIES
This seems like an appropriate time to apologise to anybody who took any notice of my tips this season.
Mad Monday isn’t quite as much fun when you do it on your own, but in between donning the cow suit, downing a keg of ale and making sure the bus driver had a good view of the stripper, I made peace with the fact that all of the huge upsets, the ridiculously topsy turvy South African conference, Izzy choosing Instagram over Gibson, the Rebels losing their way and so on were not my fault.
And of course once you get behind and start throwing darts at upsets just to be different, well… that’s my excuse for being down in the McKay end of the table and I’m sticking to it.
As everyone will have figured out already, three of the quarter-finals look straightforward enough; Crusaders, Hurricanes and Brumbies all at home and all to advance.
The Chiefs have already won in Buenos Aries this year, and are now a much more formidable side. But the Jaguares are better too.
Their young players have grown into Super Rugby – quickly – and there is now a pleasing balance about this, very well coached side. Experience blended with exciting youth, and an improved set piece and discipline, blended with flair and brilliance in the outside backs.
But in this crazy season, having just talked up the Jags, that means that I’m tipping the Chiefs. Let’s face it, Guzzler just loves putting one on Lavanini.
SURE THING: When the Jaguares lose to an offside penalty after the siren, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, in Argentina will take issue with the fact that referee Glen Jackson played 60 games for the Chiefs. Because Argentine rugby fans, like fans everywhere, trust SANZAAR to get these things right.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, CHIEFS, HURRICANES, SHARKS.
The existential question for 2019 finals footy tipping is whether we will return to the mean, when it all counts more, or is it more of the same, with draws resulting in fluky kicking shootouts, shocks, and role reversals. The presence of the Chiefs in the playoffs speaks to the latter eventuality.
The gravelly men from Hamilton were ciphers, pale ghosts, in the early rounds. Almost like sunny wolves. But here they are, almost competition favourites, with an intriguing date in Buenos Aires.
Slide guzzling Brodie Retallick and bionic man Sam Cane into any rugby pack and you’ve got something already. But the Chiefs’ renaissance is far more than mere personnel return.
They will play the sexiest team in the sexiest city with the sexiest DJ with the sexiest fans; and be very unsexy.
Chiefs to pull the very 2019 upset. The Jaguares have progressed because their back five forwards are as great as (and sexier than) any combination as any club in the world, including Saracens or the Crusaders.
But the not-so-sexy duo of Retallick-Cane could unsex the Hadid sisters in a tub with Nicole Scherzinger and me.
Also, can you really beat an in-form Kiwi team in a knockout match with a rookie male model at 10?
The still-crusading Crusaders will end the Highlanders’ revolt. Crusaders depended on cavalry and metal; the Jacobites on unreliable muskets and alliances. In this battle of the centuries, we’ll go old school. Weight matters. Mass will win.
The awkward, belligerent, thoroughly unlikable Sharks will play the awkward, belligerent, slightly less unlikable Brumbies (note: exceptions are CLL, Tom Banks, that old Coach with the cricket hat, and Curwin Bosch, Lukhanyo Am, and the Pimp).
I think this could be a rough match. The Sharks travel well.
Their record away is markedly better than their home tally. Also, it looks like half the Sharks don’t talk to the other half, and nobody enjoys their sour coach, except cockroaches. I’ll go with the hard-to-handle Family du Preez.
The Canes by plenty over the Bulls, but close at halftime (3 tries each). Handré Pollard has, in the last 3 weeks, flown from SA to New Zealand to SA to New Zealand to SA to NZ.
SURE THING: Diggercane will always write an article threatening to go on a Cane membership strike just before they play and beat the Blues, with a youth squad, as a superstition.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, JAGUARES, HURRICANES, BRUMBIES.
I just need to get something off my chest first, just bear with me for a moment…
THAT OLD COACH WITH THE CRICKET HAT?!? That’s Mr Laurie Fisher, my Capetonian friend, and don’t you flipping forget it!
Right, sorry about that. The Crusaders at home seems obvious, and I suspect the Highlanders won’t be able to adapt to the heat in Christchurch after last week’s outing in northern Antarctica.
And though Pollard is indeed kicking well enough to stay with the Hurricanes – 10 from 12 in his last two outings – I’ve not sure the Hurricanes will infringe enough for his 87per cent penalty success rate for the season to be fatal. So the Hurricanes, but probably not by plenty. Not that that matters at this time of season.
The Sharks will be physical and bruising and sometimes even legal, but the one thing they won’t be in Canberra is prolific. They just don’t have many points in them. They’ve managed just five tries and 36 points in their last three starts, will be without the Beast and quite likely one du Preez. And they’re up against a Brumbies side at home who are riding on the emotion of Sending Christian Out A Winner (SCOAW).
And the Jaguares at home. Because I need to get one back on Geoff. But I’m absolutely on the Chiefs, because I want another cold night on the sideline at Canberra Stadium.
SURE THING: Way more frozen Shark at Canberra Stadium than the demand of fish and chips requires.
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?