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Opinion

Super Rugby Round 6: Wollongong is beautiful this time of year

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Expert
4th March, 2020
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4271 Reads

SANZAAR are often a very easy target when it comes to criticism of Super Rugby.

Unquestionably they’re that easy target because of decisions they’ve made or actions they’ve taken themselves – or haven’t made or taken as is maddeningly so often the case.

But here’s some credit where it’s due. The way they’ve handled the rescheduling and relocation of games away from Japan – on the advice of the Japanese Government – has been done decisively and thoughtfully and has delivered an outcome that benefits pretty much everyone.

The exception of course being that of rugby fans in Japan who will miss out on two Sunwolves home games.

Obviously, the cause of games to be relocated is a serious global issue. But without these decisions made, we could easily have seen a scenario where teams were caught within outgoing travel bans, which would obviously have a bigger impact not just on Super Rugby, but on the individuals and their families.

SANZAAR have done the right thing in basing the Sunwolves in Australia for the next few weeks, and has been smart in the way it has reshaped schedules over the next few weekends.

And the first show of that happens on Friday afternoon, when the Sunwolves and Brumbies meet in Wollongong, south of Sydney, and ahead of the Waratahs-Chiefs later that night.

The south coast of NSW is a favourite holiday spot for so many people in south-eastern Australia, and I can’t think of a better way to start a long weekend than with a rugby double-header.

LAST WEEK: Brett and The Crowd 3; everyone else 4. OVERALL: Geoff 25, Digger 24, Harry and The Crowd 23, Nobes 21, Brett 19.

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Digger
TIPS: BRUMBIES, CRUSADERS, CHIEFS, HURRICANES, REBELS, JAGUARES, HIGHLANDERS

Straight to the main event and the ‘maybe they have turned the corner but not really until they start beating New Zealand teams’ Blues have the honour of heading to Wellington to take on the best.

Lots to look forward to in this clash; the midfield battle should be a thriller and the Canes’ loosies will need to be on their game against a formidable Blues back row featuring Tom Robinson, who is just great.

Can the circus finally start taking regular Kiwi scalps? Not this week during Mana Moana at Sky, Haumatakataka by plenty.

As for the rest, the Rebrandeds to be the best red in town, Chiefs appear too motivated after their bruising a few weeks back, Rebels should get it done, might have to back the Brumbies, Sharks tend to drop their bundle at home and after a month away, let’s back the Jaguares who have been lying in wait, and the Highlanders appear a better bet than the Bulls.

SURE THING: SANZAAR will seize upon the opportunity presented by Covid-19 to increase viewership by insisting that every player will need to work from home for the next two months and will play the matches online, which will have the positive effect of bringing more modern teenagers into following, playing and supporting Rugby.

Folau Fainga'a of the Brumbies scores a try

(Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

Harry
TIPS: BRUMBIES, CRUSADERS, CHIEFS, HURRICANES, REBELS, SHARKS, BULLS

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It took five rounds of Super Rugby for me to draw even with the Crowd. This really is the Century of Inexpert Experts.

I won’t point out that I tip on Sundays or Mondays, long before the Kiwis announce which All Blacks they are embargoing, or the Aussies start to moan about the refs they want to alienate before the whistle, or the Saffas knock each other out during training amidst live crocodiles and gangstas, or the Jaguares choose a nine which Nobes only knows, and that I have a capetonianvirus aversion to tipping against my wee Stormers.

Round 6 looks dodgy. As in, I would prefer to dodge it.

There is only one sure thing: the crusty, cussed Crusaders will defeat the raw ruddy Reds, with shuddering force and finishing power.

Mitchell Drummond runs the ball

Crusader Mitchell Drummond runs the ball. (AAP Image/Chris Symes)

All the other matches are tossups, with the exception of the Brumbies-Sunwolves fixture (the problem there being whether the brooding Brumbies’ maul will be affected by pathological fear of the silly Sunwolves’ saliva or sneezing in close quarters).

But I will go with the pragmatic Chiefs to continue the merry away-winning parade over the whinging Wollongong Waratahs, the hirsute Hurricanes to turn the bloody Blues red with annoying Saffa wings, the rambunctious Rebels to defend their home turf from the on-again-off-again little Lions, and the byzantine, banal Bulls to finally come right against the weary old Jacobites.

So, what of the crucial clash in Durban? The speedy Sharks have logged the miles, and no matter what the experts say, I say it is worse to travel west, so they will have dead legs.

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The jiggy Jaguares have been eating bunny chow for a week, after eating biltong up north and snoek and chips down south, with bobotie and curry and rice in between, so maybe we can consider them the home team. But the Sharks travel well.

Their coach will convince them Kings Park is Suncorp. The de-Preezed Sharks by a few banana peels, and a fassi-nating intercept.

Sure thing: Brett ‘Lipsync Laidlaw’ McKay will blame it on the Bulls (and the rain, if any).

Nobes
TIPS: BRUMBIES, CRUSADERS, CHIEFS, HURRICANES, REBELS, JAGUARES, BULLS.

Well, Well, Well, we have no more undefeated teams in Super Rugby after Round 5 where there were surprising results – not so much for a few – and some more comfortable wins than expected.

For this next weekend they return to play some of the safe bets that took a bye the past round but that does not make it more predictable.

The poor Reds will play as visitors with the rested Crusaders and that makes the game for Queensland even more uphill.

The Waratahs showed a better game last weekend than in previous rounds but the Chiefs are not the Lions. After 15 days of rest, those from Hamilton will want to return to the winning path after having fallen against the Brumbies.

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Hurricanes at home will receive some tired Blues that come back to New Zealand with the spirit and confidence in a high note after having won against the only undefeated in the tournament.

It can be one of the best games of the round. A toned Rebels will receive the Lions that seem lost in the season while those in Melbourne will try to maintain the level shown against the Highlanders.

Sharks-Jaguares is the other party of the weekend. Those from Durban come from a successful tour of Oceania but the Jags have been installed on South African lands for three weeks.

Gonzalo Quesada understands that this is a key game since picking up a win and returning home with two wins would position them well to compete for the conference.

That is why it seems to me that he will not perform the usual rotation of between 8 to 9 players from one game to the other and will put on the field the best he has on hand.

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On the other hand the Sharks will have been forced to their loved ones after almost a month away from home and this could be a costly distraction.

Bulls-Highlanders is a coin–toss. Both teams with imperative needs. Finally, the Sunwolves will play the home game from places far from home with well-rested Brumbies.

SURE THING: Brett ‘Lipsync Laidlaw’ McKay will blame it on the Jags and viruses that affect the normal outcome of the games.

Geoff
TIPS: BRUMBIES CRUSADERS, CHIEFS, HURRICANES, REBELS, JAGUARES, BULLS

As usual, some games that look easy to tip and a couple of toughies this week. Let’s start with the easy ones… Crusaders at home against the wriggly, crawly Reds, Chiefs over the banged-up Tahs and the Brumbies by a squillion over the Sunwolves. The Blues are flying high after three wins away from home.

Can they make it four? Quite possibly, although you usually don’t get too far in tipping comps picking against the Hurricanes at home.

The Lions really don’t look like much chop and the Rebels are still improving. Should be another confidence booster for the home side.

The Bulls aren’t much chop either, but it’s hard to fancy the Highlanders pack matching it with the home side. And just like saving that bit of tasty chicken skin until last, it’s a ripping match of the round in prospect in Durban between the in-form Sharks and the in-form Jaguares.

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I like the Jaguares.

Emiliano Boffelli runs the ball for the Jaguares

Emiliano Boffelli runs the ball for the Jaguares. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

SURE THING: Records show that the Sunwolves have never lost a home Super Rugby match in Wollongong. Just like Kurtley captaining the Waratahs, there’s a first time for everything.

Brett
TIPS: BRUMBIES, CRUSADERS, CHIEFS, HURRICANES, REBELS, SHARKS, HIGHLANDERS

I tend to agree with the hairy man, that Round 6 looks like it has, well… hairs all over it. There are easily four games that could go either way, and probably even five if the Waratahs can lift their game from last week’s impressive showing against the Lions.

The Brumbies and Crusaders look obvious enough, but maybe that’s reason to be concerned.

I think the Chiefs coming off a bye and a loss to the Brumbies that exposed their fallibility will have them hurting enough to overcome the Tahs in Wollongong, but I do give the nomadic home side a chance.

And while I was never going to not pick the Hurricanes, I am forcing myself to be less dismissive of the mob they’re facing, who have come home from a shockingly successful tour.

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The Rebels were excellent in Dunedin last week and just look to have too much firepower for the Lions, which is a pretty damning statement of how far they’ve fallen in little over twelve months.

Three straight Finals has never looked so far away. I’m very tempted to take the Jaguares. They’ll be far more rested and settled than the Sharks, and Nobes is back on them.

But it’s kind of hard to ignore the Sharks at home after the brilliant tour they’ve had. And it’s the Highlanders at Loftus because after a couple of pretty ordinary showings, the Bulls frankly don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt at home.

SURE THING: More wins over foreign sides will bring more absurd commentary round the Australian sides, especially if there’s more than the two expected wins.

Remember the 0 and 6 record and how the sky was falling on Australian rugby? That was two weeks ago.

Week 6 Geoff Nobes Digger Brett Harry Crowd
SUN vs BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU
CRU vs RED CRU CRU CRU CRU CRU CRU
WAR vs CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI
HUR vs BLU HUR HUR HUR HUR HUR HUR
REB vs LIO REB REB REB REB REB REB
SHA vs JAG JAG JAG JAG SHA SHA SHA
BUL vs HIG BUL BUL HIG HIG BUL BUL
Last week 4 4 4 3 4 3
Overall 25 21 24 19 23 23

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

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