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Opinion

Super Rugby Round 4: Short and sweet

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Expert
19th February, 2020
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5931 Reads

Just the six games this weekend, but who needs full rounds of seven games anyway? People are time poor, these days! It’s all 140 characters and the here and now!

No-one has time to sit through 560 minutes of Super Rugby every weekend, not four whole weeks into the season, and certainly not one whole week after what would’ve been the start of the season last year.

No way! This is the future, I’m sure of it. Next season, when we drop back to 14 teams, I can see six teams on the bye and as few as four games on a weekend!

And frankly, if by the start of the 2022 season we’re playing more than one game per day each round, I will be stunned. Stunned, I tell you!

Never mind more is less and less is more, less is best!

LAST WEEK: Geoff, Digger and The Crowd 6; Harry and Brett 5, Nobes 4.

OVERALL: Geoff 17, The Crowd 16, Digger 15, Harry 15, Brett 13, Nobes 12.

Geoff
Crusaders, Rebels, Chiefs, Reds, Stormers, Blues

Just as well the Highlanders got a taste of victory in Canberra because this will be a fruitless trip to Christchurch.

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I note that Saturday afternoon’s match is being played on Mars, which for a certain ex-Tahs fullback, is probably preferable to playing on Uranus. It’s a tough one to tip. The Rebels have struggled against big, physical South African opposition, but the Sharks’ biggest threat lies with their electric back line.

It’s hard to see the Chiefs juggernaut being stopped, even with Lachlan Boshier taking a rest this week, meanwhile let’s hope the Reds draw plenty of fans to Suncorp to see them notch their first win for the season.

I give the Jags a decent chance in Cape Town, but not with enough conviction to tip them. And to finish the round I think the Blues are on their way to becoming a half decent side. Not sure I can say the same about the Bulls.

SURE THING: Reds coach Brad Thorn will shrug off the loss of Jordan Petaia by saying, “No worries, we’ll get Izaia Perese back. Oh, hang on…”

Brad Thorn

(Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Digger
Crusaders, Sharks, Chiefs, Reds, Stormers, Blues

It’s really all a bit ho hum this week with the magnificent Canes taking a well-earned break after three, that’s right, three gruelling weeks of toil and trouble. But of course this is perfectly timed for yours truly to attend the cricket Test this weekend at the Basin, so it is with great delight I can announce that SANZAAR have actually got something so wonderfully right.

Anyhow, I will summon up some enthusiasm for this week’s meagre fare. The big love affair from the bottom island should see the rebranded prevail while the trout should swim upstream in rural Victoria, bell ringers at home should be able to tame Secretariat while those delightful Wolves won’t be able to handle the Reds under the sunbed.

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Harry’s diagonal flavoured mob appeal as too good up front and at home for puma lite and, well gee, I am going to have a hoon on the Auckland circus to run amok at the cattle ranch. I regret it already.

SURE THING: Jordie Barrett will be attending the cricket at the Basin over the weekend and will be encouraged to repeat his Melbourne Boxing Days effort on the Don Neely scoreboard, hopefully with a full cup at full strength and will remarkably get to stay in the venue.

Harry
Crusaders, Sharks, Chiefs, Reds, Stormers, Blues

At first glance, the round looks rudimentary. The C teams from New Zealand should romp. The coastal South African squads should roll, if a bit tighter. The magical run of the Sunwolves should end as they keep travelling. And the Bulls are just not good. Surely it won’t be that simple?

But my mum always told me: “Think long, think wrong”. So, that’s how I’ll go. I have misgivings. The Jaguares could pitch at Newlands, and the Cape boys are awfully young to keep their unbeaten record. But I am basing that tip on set-piece supremacy, and the likely return of two or more Stormer stars.

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In truth, I have no idea on Reds-Sunwolves or Bulls-Blues. The Bulls just seem shapeless this year, so I expect Rieko Ioane to be celebrating tries.

Rieko Ioane of the Blues looks on

(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

My Sharks tip is dodgy. Last week they had their five-foot-eight reserve nine playing five-eighth, their bench utility back at wing early (a Lam slaughtered him), and no kicker. But I feel Dave Wessels’ team still struggles against serious size and speed.

SURE THING: The new fashion is to use lopsided penalty counts as prima facie evidence of malicious local bias. Surely, we know there’s more to it.

Brett
Crusaders, Rebels, Chiefs, Reds, Stormers, Bulls

Right then, a short week with three teams needing the weekend off means there’s only six chances for tips to really go south. Glass half full. Ish.

The Highlanders played like very few Highlanders sides in recent years to grind out a win after the bell last weekend, but it’s really hard to see them getting over the top of the Crusaders with no real attack to speak of.

Rebels-Sharks is a flip of a coin and the home side isn’t exactly playing at home this weekend. Instead, the Rebels are about an hour and a half up the highway in Ballarat, and playing on an Australian rules footy oval. Still, it might be enough to throw the Sharks off, especially on the back end of a tour.

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The Chiefs look a bit hot to overlook at home, especially with the Brumbies trying to get over a mumps outbreak, and the Reds are surely due to have some luck go their way in their first home game of the year. And though the Jaguares look pretty handy three weeks in, the Stormers at Newlands might be a bridge too far.

Ruhan Nel

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

And that just leaves the Bulls-Blues. How do you pick between a team who concedes as many tries as they score and a team who is yet to cross the stripe at all? I can’t. But the draw isn’t available, either, so it’s time to pull out the rules again: “When in doubt, pick the home side. If still in doubt, fly the flag and pick the Australian side. And if still in doubt, pick against the Blues”.

You’re all mad. Mad, I tells ya!

SURE THING: Bulls 0, Blues 15.

Nobes
Crusaders, Sharks, Chiefs, Reds, Stormers, Blues

Finally, I could see several of the games of the weekend thanks to my landlord, who had paid an upgrade on his TV set. I could even see Federico Anselmi’s show according to the Reds fans and head coach.

I have been suggesting neutral referees since the Jaguares started playing Super Rugby, but anyway. Except for the blessed scrum in five metres, I thought he made wrong and right calls for both sides. That a visiting team is charged more penalties than the local does not tell me anything, since it was the history of the Jags in their first two years.

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This fourth round presents difficulties like most for me so far, and the Jags are going to face one of the two undefeated teams in South African lands, which represents a very difficult stop for Gonzalo Quesada and his players. I think the Jags are not ready for such a challenge yet.

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The Highlanders will face a more consolidated team than the Brumbies and will not be able to replicate against the Crusaders. My doubts with the Sharks to face the Rebels is the state of health of their drivers and the ability of Melbourne to maintain possession.

The Chiefs at home will remain undefeated despite a strong Brumbies challenge. I hope that the Reds already at home can continue with the good rugby they deployed in Buenos Aires in the first 40 minutes and keep it throughout the game.

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The Bulls have not shown anything so far and the Blues have not done much, but it is time for the Blues to start winning in African lands since their visiting points against teams from other conferences are worth a lot because their chances are not many when they play teams from their own conference.

SURE THING: Local referees are going to charge more penalties in favour of visitors so SANZAAR shout our mouths and saves a few dollars.

Get your votes in now – the Crowd’s tips will be revealed Friday afternoon AEDT.

Week 4 Geoff Nobes Digger Brett Harry Crowd
CRU vs HIG CRU CRU CRU CRU CRU CRU
REB vs SHA REB SHA SHA REB SHA SHA
CHI vs BRU CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI
RED vs SUN RED RED RED RED RED RED
STO vs JAG STO STO STO STO STO STO
BUL vs BLU BLU BLU BLU BUL BLU BUL
Last week 6 4 6 5 5 6
Overall 17 12 15 13 14 16

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

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