Look, it’s not gone well for the Australian sides, there’s no two ways about it.
And with four wins no longer possible for the Aussie sides, the interesting part of SR-TT over the remaining three rounds becomes the race to the inevitable all-Kiwi Final on June 19.
So, here’s a little change-up: in lieu of a Sure Thing this week, I’ve asked the guys to lodge a quick prediction three weeks out around who meets in the Final. As I mentioned on Tuesday, it’s crazy to now think that four wins almost certainly won’t be enough.
Oh, and a bit of early week drama this week!
Digger and I figured that since we never got to see The Crowd’s tips released before the weekend’s games, that the logical conclusion was that no-one lodged tips to contribute to The Crowd’s selections, and therefore no points should be recorded for Round 3 at all.
I mean, the argument may well exist that you lot should lose points, but far be it for me to rule on that…
Sadly, the rest of the Eds confirmed in Dan’s absence that The Crowd had in fact picked the Kiwi sweep. So, boo…
LAST WEEK: Harry and The Crowd 5, Dan and Geoff 4, Brett and Digger 3.
OVERALL: Harry and Dan 42, Geoff and The Crowd 40, Digger 36, Brett 34.
TIPS: HURRICANES, CRUSADERS, BLUES, REDS, HIGHLANDERS
Plot reveal. An Aussie team will win this week. Just one.
That team will win because it will squeeze and pressure a Kiwi squad. It won’t try to play an NBA-style fast break.
Will it be the Force, in Napier, against the flaky-shaky Hurricanes? No. The Canes will keep on scoring and conceding at a 3:2 or even 2:1 ratio.
What about the Waratahs up against a Crusaders team which would win a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal? No.
Brumbies? They’re rough. Tough. They capitalise. But no. The Blues will dominate them in the physical department and run away with it.
The Rebels? Come on. The Clan will counter-rebel and rule. Aaron Smith passes like a god. Antoine Dupont with his floaty high passes can only dream.
The Reds will carry the Australian flag high. They’re not the smartest of the Flogged Five. They’re not the most clever. But just like their coach, they can sharpen their minds by narrowing their minds. JOC to win it with a drop goal.
FINAL PREDICTION: BLUES v CRUSADERS – because they are the least dependent on one or two stars, and they score in bunches, and they can really crunches.
TIPS: HURRICANES, CRUSADERS, BLUES, REDS, HIGHLANDERS
Dan’s a bit laid up at the moment, though he did manage to send through a text with his thoughts for this week:
“Pencil me in for four New Zealand teams and the Reds,” he said.
Tempted as I was to leave Marist St. Pats, Lincoln, Papatoetoe, and Green Island submitted on his behalf, I relented in the end and eventually concluded he would have meant teams playing Super Rugby.
TIPS: HURRICANES, CRUSADERS, BLUES, CHIEFS, REBELS
This is a very strange tipping contest. Start with the assumption that all five NZ teams will win, then try to find a reason why an Australian team will upset them.
And then when you find it, have the guts to go through with it and actually tip them!
Ardie Savea returns this week; that’s a big minus for the Force. While in Wollongong, it’s all minuses for the Waratahs against the Crusaders. No hope, surely.
The Brumbies in Auckland… now that’s something that would normally grab my interest. They’ll be much harder in the contest this week, but their scrum is simply going too poorly right now.
The Reds should be a big chance in Townsville, but I really like the focus that the Chiefs bought last week. And their front row.
Bring on the ridicule but the best chance for an Australian result this week, sits with the Rebels. Not just because the Covid situation might see them awarded two points for a ‘draw’, but because they’ve won the last two against the Highlanders and match up pretty well against them.
And Scotty will be there too. He must know something. I can see the big Caboose right now, tearing up at the prospect of doing it for Scotty.
FINALIST PREDICTION: CRUSADERS v CHIEFS – It’s going to take five wins and a handful of bonus points to make the final. The Crusaders have already beaten the two Australian finalists, so they’re one. Assuming they get through this week, the Chiefs are a good bet for the other spot.
TIPS: HURRICANES, CRUSADERS, BLUES, CHIEFS, HIGHLANDERS
The bounce back factor was alive and well last weekend, just that I fell into the trap of thinking it would be the Australian sides to do so. You do expect improvement from the Oz sides but then we cannot forget the NZ sides will also improve.
The Force in Perth are a difficult proposition, but away from home has yet to be determined in this trans-Tasman version. ‘Canes by plenty and the Crusaders too.
You do expect both the Reds and Brumbies to be better than last week, but I do not think the Reds know how they need to play tactically and the Brumbies appeal as the most likely.
But the Blues look to be running into a decent form patch and at home look too good to ignore. And finally, the Highlanders should paint a pretty picture in scenic Queenstown.
FINAL PREDICTION: CRUSADERS v BLUES – Based on the draw, one side will likely be the Crusaders given they have now beaten both the Brumbies and Reds and from what’s left, I will eliminate the Hurricanes and Highlanders who both have to head to Canberra which appeals as the toughest away venue in Australia.
I will back the Blues to make the final from here, given they have maximum BP and a tremendous points differential thus far compared to the Chiefs.
TIPS: HURRICANES, CRUSADERS, BRUMBIES, CHIEFS, HIGHLANDERS
I’m with Harry; one Australian side will win this weekend. But I’m still working my way through which one.
I’m pretty sure it won’t be the Force, though it would be a hell of a win if it was. They rank fourth in terms of best defence in trans-Tasman – higher than both the Hurricanes and Crusaders – but where they’re going to run into trouble is attack – and they rank ninth for tries scored, with only the Rebels behind them.
And we can safely put a line through the Waratahs and Rebels. Which leaves the Brumbies or Reds, and it’s a bit of a toss-up.
If there’s an NZ team capable of emulating the way the Crusaders ripped the Reds apart from kick-off, it’s probably the Chiefs. They blew the game apart in six last weekends, ensuring the Brumbies couldn’t come back, and have shown themselves to be a team capable of scoring tries in clumps. And then, they’re sporting what might just be the form backrow in New Zealand.
But then, I simply cannot overstate the temptation I have in front of me, in creating the ultimate win-win by picking the Blues and watching them implode against the Brumbies in Auckland. It’s quite the conundrum, and I think I’m going to have to come back to it.
FINAL PREDICTION: CRUSADERS v CHIEFS – The Crusaders seems an obvious choice, so it comes down to who they’ll face. And while I have a funny feeling about the Highlanders getting through, I think it might actually be the Chiefs.
The Highlanders will be eyeing bonus point wins at home against the Rebels this week and Waratahs next week, but then have to get to Canberra.
But I think the Chiefs are more likely to beat the Reds in Townsville this weekend than the Highlanders are to win in Canberra in a fortnight’s time. A win this weekend, and the Chiefs will be eyeing off similar BP winning finishes over the Rebels and Waratahs to finish unblemished.
And with that point about the Chiefs this weekend, it would seem I’m taking the Brumbies.
OVER TO YOU – what is your tip for the Super Rugby trans-Tasman finalists?
|HUR v FOR||HUR||HUR||HUR||HUR||HUR||HUR|
|WAR v CRU||CRU||CRU||CRU||CRU||CRU||CRU|
|BLU v BRU||BLU||BRU||BLU||BLU||BLU||BLU|
|RED v CHI||RED||CHI||RED||CHI||CHI||CHI|
|HIG v REB||HIG||HIG||HIG||HIG||REB||HIG|
Get your tips in now.