Well, we’ve done it again.
Highlighting the Chiefs unbeaten run as the last remaining bastion of the Super Rugby Pacific for the season, with all tipping streaks now long behind us, reached an inevitable conclusion – maybe the biggest upset of the year at the hands of the Queensland Reds, a result that I’m not even sure all QRU staff at Ballymore selected on their tipping sheet.
With a bit of compression on the table once again, suddenly these last three rounds feel like anybody’s business. What made sense last week perhaps makes less sense now, and from a competition standpoint, that can only be a good thing.
It’s terrible for tipping, obviously. I made the point on the socials last weekend that bad tipping = good competition, but that doesn’t mean we have to be happy about it. I mean, look no further than Harry right now.
So where to from here? Well, I can only suggest you select your bandwagon, climb aboard and strap in. What looks like a smooth run home will almost certainly be bumpier than it looks.
LAST WEEK: Digger 5, Brett 5, Geoff 4, Harry 4, Christy 3; The Crowd 3.
OVERALL: Digger 56, Brett 54, Christy 52, Geoff 51, Harry 46; The Crowd 52.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, BLUES, HIGHLANDERS, CHIEFS, WARATAHS, BRUMBIES
It is very difficult to see anything other than a healthy Crusaders win to start the round on Friday, while it will be very interesting to see what last week’s win did for the Reds confidence and whether they can take another prized scalp.
I am unconvinced they can play to any consistency, and I suspect the Blues will be pretty motivated to get back in the winning groove and have a pretty reasonable defence. Blues to pinch it.
The teams hadn’t come out when I sent this, and I understand that a few Hurricanes players will be having a rest week. It’s simply not good enough in my opinion. If they really want to address the problems with Super Rugby, would be a good place to start.
I believe it was Scotty Stevenson on the Roar Pod who mentioned when discussing New Zealand Rugby and its attitude to everything non All Black, ‘well, tell us what competitions are important then’. Having leading players out for a bumper clash is nonsense and just further damages the product and enforces the lethargy around the support at present. Good to get that off the chest.
Anyway, along with potential outs the Reds also did us no favours last week either in tipping the comp leaders over, Chiefs should be taking this one.
Rebels? Maybe, certainly capable but their second half fade has been consistent and the Highlanders have shown improvement as the season has worn on. The Clan at home while the Drua could be a good tip; sooner or later they will knock someone over away from home, but the Waratahs are playing too well to ignore at home.
The Force in Perth are always worth pondering but the Brumbies should be too good.
SURE THING: If my understanding around teams to be named is incorrect, my bad and all. that but the point remains: the best available should be playing.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, REDS, HIGHLANDERS, CHIEFS, WARATAHS, BRUMBIES
Right, Operation Re-Catch Digger (ORC’D) is go. The strategy is simple: think like the great Hurricanes man, and then tip one different. Three rounds to play, plus finals, and it’s certainly all doable.
And typically, we try and avoid team sheets when throwing together our reasoning each week, more so to help Harry – though not this week. But it’s a bit hard to avoid team talk this week, since it looms as designated rest week.
And really, it’s a wonder there isn’t some kind of mid-season bye or something, so the comp isn’t just randomly hamstrung by coaches remembering they suddenly have to prepare for a game with one hand tied behind their back. Anyway…
Crusaders, Chiefs, Waratahs. Easy. Self-explanatory. All will be too good.
The Brumbies will be too good in Perth I think too, but the prospect of resting players is real. Do the Force have to rest Tom Robertson and Folau Fainga’a too? Should be too good, but danger game areas acknowledged.
The Rebels in Dunedin I give a massive chance, and in reality this is exactly the sort of game they should be winning anyway, never mind with finals hopes on the line. Their record away from home – they’re one from five – concerns me though. So I’ll take the clunky, stuttery home team with no confidence and be happy to get it wrong.
Which leaves the Primary Colours Cup in Brisbane, and this is where ORC’D comes into play. Injuries and suspension have already claimed a few Blues, and if Ian Foster’s cotton wool takes care of a few more, then the Reds being desperate to nail a finals berth should be good enough to get it done.
SURE THING: Advice coming my way via the comments around how many Blues are resting. Yes, I’m sure they are, now please re-read my second paragraph.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, BLUES, REBELS, CHIEFS, WARATAHS, BRUMBIES
Moana Pasifika are running out of chances to nab a win, but this week probably isn’t their best opportunity. Crusaders by a few. The late game shapes as a ripper, with the Reds now having raised the bar and the Blues looking to consolidate inside the top 4. Blues by a few less.
Tipping the Rebels hasn’t worked for me this season, despite all of their good intent and indications. There have been some good signs recently from the Highlanders too, but I can’t drop off now. Rebels by I don’t care how many.
Most people will be tipping a Chiefs ‘bounce-back’ this week, and I’m no different. By a handful. And with the Drua’s eyes firmly fixed on their remaining home games, it’s the Waratahs by a few, in Sydney.
I expect the Force to go well in the late game, but the safe bet is the Brumbies. By whatever.
SURE THING: The battle for the Wallabies 10 jersey will heat up this weekend, with all of the contenders crossing for tries and mouthing a name in the process. Carter Gordon will shout out “Who’s Noah Lolesio?”, Lolesio will cry “Who’s Ben Donaldson?”, while Donaldson will thump his chest and say, “Who’s Max Burey?”.
In Japan, Quade Cooper, inches from the dead-ball line, will exclaim “Who’s Bernard Foley?”, while a puzzled Foley will simply say, “Who’s Matthieu Raynal?”
TIPS: CRUSADERS, BLUES, HIGHLANDERS, CHIEFS, WARATAHS, BRUMBIES.
The first match might be as close as I am to Digger. It might have to be called at half time for mercy. Crusaders by a few castles. In the off season, Moana (and I) will have to search souls.
The Reds are on a high, but will be sore after tackling all weekend, and will feel Blue after the high flying Aucklanders enjoy their fast pitch. Blues by a few tries.
The Rebels are a tough team to tip, but so are the Highlanders. I’ll go uncertainly with the Landers by a droppie. Or a pie. Or a drop. The Chiefs will be mad. Crazy. Nuts. And that’s not good for the Hurricanes. The Chiefs by several piles of gravel.
The Drua may be the darlings of the competition but the Waratahs are the meat and (expensive) tomato sauce and I sense their best match coming. Tahs by a tomato or two. The Brumbies are a tidy team and they will mess the Force up.
SURE THING: This will be my best round. Because I waited till the last to tip for a change and actually knew the teams a bit and also, I was late to deadline and so I had to not think.
TIPS: CRUSADERS, BLUES, HIGHLANDERS, CHIEFS, WARATAHS, BRUMBIES
Will another Kiwi side stumble? It’s about now sides start looking at how they balance their list with an eye on the finals.
The Crusaders have opted to rest several All Blacks against Moana Pasifika. Nonetheless, they’ll be too good for Aaron Mauger’s side, who were brought back to Earth against the Hurricanes last week.
Lighting doesn’t strike twice. The Blues will unfortunately bring the Reds back to life. It’s unfortunate given it’ll be the Reds’ last home match of the year.
The Rebels are still alive in 2023. Somehow. They’re a team that promise much but the win-loss record is telling. They’re playing good rugby. Good things are on the horizon, but the rainbow isn’t this week against a smarting Highlanders side.
The expectation is the Chiefs will bounce back. Who remembers their clash against the Waratahs when they were horrendous yet still won comfortably? They’ll be better this time against the Hurricanes but it’ll be a belter.
Waratahs. Yep, bank it.
Stephen Larkham’s side have yet to deliver an 80 minute performance this season. They were good without being great against the Blues in March but since then have rely on talent rather than execution. It’s time to deliver and come away with a bonus point against a gritty Force side. A home final is at stake.
SURE THING: No comment (the Crusaders are resting players and therefore I reserve my comment until next week).
|MOA v CRU
|RED v BLU
|HIG v REB
|CHI v HUR
|WAR v DRU
|FOR v BRU