Right then, time to start banking points – for the teams and for those of us tipping them alike.
Obviously any points earnt now are points that don’t have to be chased later. And for unnamed teams – like, say, the one that rhymes with Poos – any points earnt now will be doubly celebrated later because they weren’t blown before despite multiple opportunities and several failed attempts.
We enter an interesting period of the competition, where some teams will have byes and others will instead play another game to make up games lost earlier.
Can you really have a bye and get the full benefits of it if it was only called the day before you had it? What’s it going to do to future recovery programs? And what about the coastal towns that miss out on the business of footballers having a weekend away?
Moana Pasifika won’t mind of course. They’re riding high after their maiden win and will be wishing to play more than six games in 19 days. And if they play like they did at the weekend, they’ll absolutely be worth watching every day they play.
The Crowd: 6; Harry, Geoff and Brett: 5; Digger 4.
Brett: 26, the Crowd: 26, Harry: 25, Digger: 23, Geoff: 23.
Crusaders, Waratahs, Blues, Reds Chiefs
The only tip I’m sure of is the first one. The Crusaders have awoken. They usually remain awake. This South Island derby will go like Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars: slap then win.
The Drua are good. The Waratahs are good. Neither started the season with many expectations. Now we see they are good little teams. How good? The answer will continue to be revealed in this intriguing match-up. I saw the last player trying to catch streaking Jock Campbell last week was big Will Harris. He made up a couple of yards. I’m impressed. Tahs by a Will.
The Blues and the Reds are at home, but what match-ups! The Moana are here, baby! And there’s the sequel of the bitter RED v BRU thing. Glued.
To finish, the Chiefs. By a whisker.
Geoff Parkes shot an eagle on his home course. This will come up somehow in his wrap or tips.
Crusaders, Drua, Blues, Reds, Chiefs
I’m embarrassed at last week’s effort. Not only did I miss the obvious Moana Pasifika win, but how could I have missed tipping Tom Banks getting a red card while not even being on the field to receive it and then, two days later, getting a yellow card instead because – well, the science?
The Highlanders often go well against the Crusaders, but there’s too big a class gap between them this season. The Drua versus the Tahs is a genuine toss-up, but I’ll pick the Drua to play better field position this week before breaking the game open in the second half.
The Blues were wobbly against Moana Pasifika on Tuesday night but fare better than the new guys in the big player swap that will happen for Saturday. Seru Uru is a big loss for the Reds this week, but home-ground advantage has been an important factor in the recent run of close matches between them and the Brumbies.
It’s great to have another Sunday afternoon match to finish off the round, with both sides on the rebound. With Warren Gatland vacating the main chair for Clayton McMillan, I think the Chiefs have the bounciest trampoline.
The run of classic contests between the Reds and Brumbies will continue with another tight, tense and testy battle of the testes. Do yourselves a favour, Queenslanders, and get along!
Crusaders, Waratahs, Blues, Brumbies, Chiefs
This week looms as a tricky one – trickier than the last few weeks – and with a bit more discrepancy between the panel, which means we might just see some more movement among the ranks.
The Crusaders look too good for the Highlanders in most places at the moment but especially in Christchurch. And I can’t imagine the Blues will let Moana Pasifika get as close again at Eden Park as they very nearly did at Mount Smart on Tuesday night.
But they’re easier ones.
The Fijian Drua are doing a lot right in their debut season already, but they’re in the biggest challenge of them all right now: how well they get through the routine of train-travel-play-recover-review-train again each week.
The Waratahs are going pretty well too. And while the Drua have been letting teams get away before reeling them back with mixed success, the Tahs of 2022 have been better equipped in recent years to take advantage of this and exploit the Drua’s misfiring lineout.
The Chiefs just keep chiefing on this season, and though they didn’t repeat the dose over the Crusaders last weekend, I think they’ll have enough to cover the Hurricanes. Happy to get another shot of Sunday arvo rugby!
And that just leaves the Reds-Brumbies derby. Normally, when I put the panel together I very deliberately put my tips into the sheet before I start putting the guys’ tips in. I did that again this week, but this game I left blank wanting to have a bit more of a think about it. Because this game is that close. It’s a genuine coin flip.
But I was surprised to see Reds for all three! And even though 14 of the last 15 games between these two have gone to the home side, this game can’t have a unanimous selection across the board. Incredibly, I’m lumped with the undefeated Brumbies.
Nerves, lots of them, for most picks this weekend.
Crusaders, Drua, Blues, Reds, Hurricanes
It’s fair to say my tipping is running as hot and cold as a judiciary hearing at this time.
This week, to me at least, I’m running with all the home sides.
Crusaders look too strong for the Highlanders, and a repeat of last year’s astonishing effort from the clan does not look like repeating, while I suspect the Drua may have too much firepower for the Waratahs over 80 minutes, even more so if they can be a little more restrained as to where they attack from.
I do expect the Blues to back up their Tuesday effort with a second over the surprisingly resilient Moana side. In what promises to be a treat and the match of the round, I will back the Reds at home to even their season head to head with the ponies.
And to the joy of a Sunday afternoon fixture, I will back the Canes to get up over the in-form Chiefs. Though I probably shouldn’t, all things considered, I am hopeful of a very disappointed and fired-up side wanting to right their season after being beaten up last week.
Honestly, I am unsure why we still see players tucking their arms and hitting rucks at or below waist height. Hopefully we won’t see any more this weekend.
|Round 7||Harry||Geoff||Digger||Brett||The Crowd|
|CRU v HIG||Crusaders||Crusaders||Crusaders||Crusaders||Crusaders|
|DRU v WAR||Waratahs||Drua||Drua||Waratahs||Waratahs|
|BLU v MOA||Blues||Blues||Blues||Blues||Blues|
|RED v BRU||Reds||Reds||Reds||Brumbies||Brumbies|
|HUR v CHI (Rd 5)||Chiefs||Chiefs||Hurricanes||Chiefs||Chiefs|
Get your votes in now. The Crowd’s tips will be revealed Friday afternoon AEDT.