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Opinion

Super Rugby Week 7: Movers and shakers week

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Expert
22nd July, 2020
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Last week was bound to be disappointing and it mostly was for those of not answering to the name ‘Digger’. But this week looks a bit more clear-cut and that is every bit as nerve-wracking.

This week feels the back nine on Saturday afternoon. You can’t lose the tipping panel this week, but with only three more weeks of four games to come, you can certainly set yourself up to contend on Sunday.

The question is, which tipper is taking on the role of Bryson DeChambeau, swinging like a barn door in a cyclone? And will they blow the comp apart or do themselves irreparable damage?

(And yes, the rest of us will be watching on, ready to yell “HA! Told you so!!”)

Could be very interesting…

LAST WEEK: Digger 4; Harry, Geoff and The Crowd 3; Brett, Nobes and Dan 2.

OVERALL: Harry 15, Brett and The Crowd 14; Geoff, Nobes and Digger 13, Dan 12.

Digger
TIPS: REBELS, HURRICANES, BRUMBIES, BLUES

Here’s hoping we have another superb round of games to match the last we have just seen. For all the bluster off court right now, it’s great to have the actual product delivering.

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Onto this weekend and Friday night where I find myself favouring the Rebels. I suspect a few more experienced heads within the back line may prove the difference while naturally the Canes have more to play for motivationally so naturally, Canes by plenty and I see little reason in explaining or thinking about it further.

Ngani Laumape of the Hurricanes looks on

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Brumbies are still my overall favourites for the Australian competition and I expect them to have too much for the rejuvenated Force over the 80 minutes while the Chiefs have simply made themselves unbackable, so Blues at home on Sunday.

SURE THING: Hurricanes management will continue to pass brown envelopes over to media personalities to continue to provide Ngani Laumape with additional motivation heading into matches and after last weekend, it appears David Havili has also made a smart business decision withdrawing from this match, similar to Beauden Barrett last Saturday night.

Harry
TIPS: WARATAHS, CRUSADERS, BRUMBIES, BLUES

I’m just happy to be here. This tipping competition is tough as nails. I’m giving 110 per cent. So many learnings. But I’m going to stick to my structure, and my processes. I have many structured processes. I will stick to them.

The Rebels don’t look ready to win consistently. The Tahs seem ready to win inconsistently.

The Hurricanes have a halfback champion who resembles a Mossad agent and plays like one. But even if he wins his personal battle with Bryn Hall, as is likely, and Jordie Barrett brings his howitzer, the Canes have weak locks and floppy props. Crusaders by plenty.

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The Brumbies will rapidly run over the waning Force, 50-22.

Allan Alaalatoa

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

The Blues are the type of happy team that Warren Gatland’s grim clubs typically handle well. But the Chiefs will have lost all of their fragile confidence, by letting Aaron Smith and Mitch Hunt scamper around in their backfield like jackrabbits on a honeymoon.

SURE THING: TMOs and LOs are on opposite trajectories of quality in 2020.

Geoff
TIPS: REBELS, CRUSADERS, BRUMBIES, BLUES

The Waratahs have exceeded most expectations since the resumption, getting plenty of energy and aggression from their maligned forward pack last week. Their back line wafts too much across field however, and while the Rebels’ game management was surprisingly poor in their draw to the Reds, it should be their edge in on-field leadership that gets them the result.

The Hurricanes have also exceeded expectations, having stiffened up their defensive line. But it’s the Crusaders at home…

Richie Mo'unga of the Crusaders looks to kick

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

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The Force make it three sides who are going better than what most people expected of them, but who will lose regardless. I’m not sure that the Brumbies are in a great place right at the moment, but they have class and experience on their side.

It’s the Chiefs who break the cycle, performing worse than expected, and who will lose again, this time to the Blues.

SURE THING: The pissing contest between New Zealand and Australia will plumb new depths, with prime minister Jacinda Ardern claiming that Kurtley Beale sent her an SMS to say he agrees that Australia deserves only two teams, and counterpart Scott Morrison in response saying: “I’ve got two words for anyone who keeps banging on about how brilliant New Zealand rugby is… James Parsons.”

Brett
TIPS: REBELS, CRUSADERS, BRUMBIES, BLUES

Right, so there’s the lead gone. Six glorious weeks I held it for, and as soon as I’m back in charge of the tipping panel, and… *poof* it’s gone. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted…

And here’s a confession to begin with. I pencilled in the Rebels back on Monday and reserved the right to switch. The tips started rolling in, some for the Waratahs, more for the Rebels, which convinced me of… nothing. The Tahs were good last week; much better than I expected. But it’s hard to overlook sheer desperation, and that’s where the Rebels hold an edge this week. I think.

Reece Hodge makes a break

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Crusaders and Brumbies seem obvious enough. The Hurricanes and Force will throw up plenty – the question is only if they can throw up 80 minutes’ worth.

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And the Blues to finish. But they are absolutely on notice for me. It’s one thing to punish me by losing, but it’s another thing to punish me and cost me the lead. But the Chiefs are in the same boat as the Canes and Force; they will push the Blues, for sure, but they won’t do it all day. And certainly not in Auckland, where the Eden Park stands are suddenly straining under the wait of both expectation and bandwagoners.

SURE THING: Waratahs by eight; Chiefs by one. In golden point.

Nobes
TIPS: WARATAHS, CRUSADERS, BRUMBIES, BLUES

I don’t think I am so out of focus in my tips despite seeing with pain the exodus of the Jaguares staff and their players to Europe. They are already eight and three or four more will follow the same course. Maybe some teams from Australia can take one or two to reinforce their rosters.

Anyway, the Chiefs have me tired. They lost an impossible game to lose and the Highlanders lived up to their name. Everything else was in the other New Zealand derby where the Hurricanes should have won by a bigger margin.

For this next round I hope that the Crusaders rested and at home can win against a very inspired Hurricanes where some of their star players are standing out. The Crusaders have more team play and it’s going to be the game of the weekend if I have to pick one.

The Blues should re-show the team that beat the Chiefs where Warren Gatland seems to be more focused on the Lions than on the franchise from Hamilton.

Chiefs coach Warren Gatland

(Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

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Being two points below the leader of the tipping panel it is my time to take risks and here I am going to go for the Waratahs against the Rebels since the men from Sydney seem to have improved as a team and their former captain is getting back in shape.

On the other hand, the Rebels seem to be out of cohesion with their halves. But can the Force claim their first win? It is possible, but I expect them to play every team once before they scalp one. I’m going to go for the Brumbies despite the fact I have not seen a solid performance from them post COVID-19.

SURE THING: The man from South Africa is difficult to catch when he gets the lead.

Dan
TIPS: REBELS, CRUSADERS, BRUMBIES, BLUES

They’ve only played two games, but already the Rebels are at the stage of the season where anything but a win won’t do. Their forward pack weakness shouldn’t be as much of an issue against the Tahs as it was in the first two rounds – although in saying that, the NSW piggies did well against the Brumbies last week. Rebels to take it on their back line strength, and because they just have to.

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We’ll gloss over the weekend’s Aotearoa opener with the trusted old ‘never tip against the Crusaders at home’ approach, and similarly the Brumbies are a safe bet against the Force, even without Noah Lolesio.

And if you think tipping the Chiefs to win in all but one of their losses this season is going to stop me from tipping them again… you’re right. Watch them win now I’ve picked the Blues in this one.

SURE THING: The intensity of the New Zealand derbies will be matched only by the sparring between governing bodies about what competition(s) will be in place for 2021 and beyond.

Harry Brett Geoff Nobes Digger Dan The Crowd
WAR v REB WAR REB REB WAR REB REB WAR
CRU v HUR CRU CRU CRU CRU HUR CRU CRU
FOR v BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU
BLU v CHI BLU BLU BLU BLU BLU BLU BLU
Last week 3 2 3 2 4 2 3
Overall 15 14 13 13 13 12 14

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

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