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Opinion

Super Rugby Round 2: second round syndrome

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5th February, 2020
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The panel started the 2020 Super Rugby season in great form and that has us all worried as hell.

Because when you start well, there’s only one way to go, isn’t there? Exactly, up further!

Round 2 looks a bit harder to pick, and that’s how it played out between us, with only two unanimous tips across the seven games, and a number of 3-2 splits as well, which only underlines the tight appearance that this second round takes on paper.

We’re not all going to be happy come Sunday afternoon, that’s for sure.

News
Some of you might have noticed the very late addition of the flash new Super Rugby tipping comp for The Roar last week, and its return just in the nick of time means we no longer need the tipping form from last week and of the last few years. Instead, the busy little hamsters that keep the site running 24/7 will send me the Crowd’s final tips just prior kick-off in the first game based on your collated tips, and we go from there.

And the results *should* update automatically across the weekend, presuming we pay the hamsters enough.

Either way, hook in, because now it does mean your tips count for both yourself and the Crowd. So good luck!

So then, about that great start last week.

LAST WEEK and OVERALL: Geoff, Brett, and the Crowd 6, Nobes, Digger and Harry 5.

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Geoff
Tips: Sharks, Brumbies, Chiefs, Blues, Reds, Stormers, Jaguares

A very tough Round 2 for tipsters and teams alike. There will be blood on the streets, just hopefully not outside my place.

I like that the Sharks have a game under their belt already and like less that the Highlanders’ squad this year looks a little light on. One for the visitors.

I’m certain that we’ll see a more combative Rebels this week and they do know how to win in Canberra. But the Brumbies look more advanced and are the safer tip.

Joe Powell of the Brumbies runs in for a try

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

It doesn’t get any easier on Saturday. The Chiefs have struck early injury problems in the front row, but you wouldn’t say that’s where the Crusaders are strongest. Both the Waratahs and Blues are fancied to finish out of the finals, but both showed promise last week. Weather might be a factor too. Blues in a real toss-up.

The Reds look a few points better than the Lions, ditto the Stormers than the Bulls. And it’s very hard to imagine how the silver Hurricanes can get over the impressive Jaguares at Amalfitani.

SURE THING: Elton ‘Beltin’ Jantjies and the Lions will try another tricky switch kick-off against the Reds and, just like last week, fool absolutely nobody.

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Brett
Tips: Highlanders, Brumbies, Crusaders, Waratahs, Reds, Stormers, Jaguares

It’s all guesswork about form at home for teams that travelled last week, and about the Highlanders in general, as Tony Brown starts orchestrating the attack that will soon have Kiwis wondering why on earth the board didn’t go harder for Jamie Joeseph and the man in the flat cap.

Brumbies looked slick for 60 minutes and then gave off the impression they weren’t satisfied, but I suspect that’s more about wanting to not lose to the Rebels at all costs. Chiefs were good, but the Crusaders were better. And the Waratahs were okay, which will be more than enough for the Blues.

The Reds back row could have a field day at Ellis Park, and their ball-carriers will be lining up to run at Elton Jantjies as if he was giving away ice cream, while the Stormers at home will have too many points for the Bulls of yesteryear.

And that just leaves the competition-leading Jaguares, who took their sweet time to skin the Lions last week, but when they did, it was at least a quick kill. The Hurricanes will put up more fight, and may have some luck hypnotising their opposition with that spew-fest away strip. And although I’m absolutely here for new ideas in rugby, I don’t think the great game is quite ready for induced nausea. It’s messy, for one thing.

SURE THING: Rounds that look tight are ripe for the upset, and if I’m worried about any one tip in particular, it might just be that Morne Steyn does, in fact, still have more points in his pure titanium foot than we realise. And the Sharks, actually. After years of underwhelming me, I’m already thinking they might be the real deal in 2020.

Lukhanyo Am of The Sharks scores a try

(Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Digger
Tips: Sharks, Brumbies, Crusaders, Waratahs, Reds, Stormers, Hurricanes

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The suitably dubbed and often feared ‘Horrorcanes’ showed up last week in Cape Town, failing to fire a shot and earning the ire of plenty, as season 2020 is seemingly consigned to the scrap bin already.

Though the away strip, a design inspired by Picasso’s worst nightmare mixed in with a Ruatoria outhouse design should certainly be recycled and utilised as toilet paper at the local shopping centre, the Hurricanes contributing their part to Greta’s grand plan.

The trap has now been set. Suckers.

It was always the ambition to come away with a 50 per cent tour record and the ruse was twofold: the first to ease the Western Province financial burdens by increasing crowd numbers, with the Hurricanes admirably playing their part in retaining the republic within Super Rugby, and the second to lure the balance of the competition into a false sense of security. All eyes focus elsewhere as the Canes go about their work and the first side to be pounced upon will be the fluent and ballet-like Jaguares, their fast stepping tango about to be flamingoed.

Canes by plenty for the main event in Buenos Aires.

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Now for the under-card fights leading up to the main event. The snapper tend to have a nasty habit of travelling well and I will take the punt on them against the clan from the south, while the structured donkeys look far too good for the ruck-averse rebellion.

Far too many outs in the front row in Hamilton so the rebranded over the bell-ringers, while the light blues against the dark blues should provide another hideous away jersey and with both teams likely to disappoint someone somewhere. I will provide the Tah-tahs that opportunity for myself over the travelling Tamaki-Makaurau circus.

I found myself more inspired by the Reds/Maroons/Scarlets than I was by Leo so bananas to be bent in Johannesburg, while the Stormers will overdose on dairy products assuming they can throw the ball in straight.

SURE THING: Some guff to be written about Robertson vs Gatland and being a challenge to one or the other/both.

Nobes
Tips: Highlanders, Brumbies, Crusaders, Waratahs, Lions, Stormers, Jaguares

What an attractive first round of Super Rugby! We are facing a very good tournament with surprising results every week, young players who are going to stand out, and extremely entertaining matches. Luckily the Sunwolves do not play this week and we get one less mystery to solve, since there are several in the next round where we will have to decipher if the winners of the first round did it on their own merit or because of the weakness of the losers.

At the beginning of the second round we will have the first question mark with the Sharks – who generally travel well – facing the Highlanders, who were the first-round bye. I put a chip on the home team. The Brumbies should be strong at home and hand the Rebels their second straight loss.

Crusaders versus Chiefs should be a cracker. Aaron Cruden showed his quality in front of the Blues and will have Richie Mo’unga, who I trust will be up to the challenge. I’ll stick with the current champions.

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Richie Mo'unga of the Crusaders looks to kick

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

The Waratahs should turn the page. Nothing to be ashamed of losing to the champions away from home and they should be up to the task of beating the shaky Blues now without Rieko Ioane.

The Reds must face some hurting Lions, who will have to reverse what was shown in Buenos Aires, and Elton Jantjies especially has to demonstrate that he can kick and make better decisions to lead this team.

In their second consecutive home game, the Stormers – despite losing their captain – should beat the Bulls, who seem to play without audacity.

And finally the Hurricanes will not have it easy in the Amalfitani. While the team from Wellington has found no replacement for Beauden Barrett yet, the Jaguares seem to have found in Domingo Miotti more than a substitute for Diaz Bonilla.

SURE THING: Flyhalves will be in demand after this round.

Harry
Tips: Sharks, Brumbies, Chiefs, Waratahs, Reds, Stormers, Jaguares

Home will be sweet for all but two hosts: the Highlanders and the Lions have lost too much talent to keep shape in games against brutal, well-drilled packs.

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The Sharks tend to tour New Zealand well, and this year, have finishers aplenty. The hard Brumbies will add to the Rebels’ misery.

The match of the round should be Cruden’s Chiefs versus Richie’s Saders. Chiefs by three.

Riskily, I’ll take the Tahs ‘at home’ on the road against the disappointing Blues. The Reds should upset the travel-weary toothless Lions.

The Stormers lost a few forwards in their opening loss, but welcome a few back, too. The Bulls won’t survive the scrum and maul examination. The Jaguares will go 2-0 and may not have to get out of second gear.

One Kiwi win, three Aussie teams, and two Saffas. Jags on top.

SURE THING: The heat will pile on to Dave Wessels.

Week 2 Geoff Nobes Digger Brett Harry Crowd
HIG vs SHA SHA HIG SHA HIG SHA HIG
BRU vs REB BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU
CHI vs CRU CHI CRU CRU CRU CHI CRU
WAR vs BLU BLU WAR WAR WAR WAR BLU
LIO vs RED RED LIO RED RED RED LIO
STO vs BUL STO STO STO STO STO STO
JAG vs HUR JAG JAG HUR JAG JAG JAG
Last week 6 5 5 6 5 6

Who have you got, Roarers? Who gets your tip this weekend?

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