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Super Rugby Pacific tipping week 15: Everyone playing for second

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9th June, 2023
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The tipping panel for 2023 looked like it was Digger’s daughter’s to lose from here, with a very solid final round cleaning up the competition to create an almost Chiefs-like five-point gap at the top. With only seven scoring opportunities to come, it looks like the rest of us are playing for the lower podium steps from here.

But there has been a bombshell development. You might want to sit down, if you’re not already. You’ll know it when you see it.

And then there were eight: some results we mostly saw coming, some results some of us saw coming, and whatever the hell happened to the Waratahs is the one-par summer of Round 15. Moana Pasifika have been knocking at the door in recent weeks, and just as they did last season, they’ve taken another final round Australian scalp to finish their year.

The question for the Quarters, then, remains the same. Is there an upset coming, and who is most likely to pull it off? And flowing from that, who’s game to tip it? Probably not The Crowd, after generously selecting the Force last week.

A fascinating first weekend of finals awaits, but have all the tipping and performance hiccups been put behind us?

LAST WEEK: Digger’s daughter 5, Christy 5, Brett 4, Geoff 3, Harry 3; The Crowd 3.

OVERALL: Digger 71, Brett 66, Christy 66, Geoff 61, Harry 60; The Crowd 66.

Digger

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TIPS: BLUES, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, HURRICANES

My daughter gave it her best shot but as she got the Moana Pasifika tip wrong, she has been fired. Only a perfect round will do.

Finals time has arrived and three of the four matches do look straight forward.

Neither the Reds or Waratahs take great form into their quarters and it is difficult to not see an early finals exit for both while the Drua may put up a good show but unlikely to really trouble the Crusaders after the full 80 is played in Christchurch.

The Crusaders. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The Brumbies and Hurricanes does look to be the toughest to pick, usually one would side with the Brumbies in Canberra, it’s a tough place to visit but the second half of last week’s game for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders was a timely performance, certainly a repeat of that effort would trouble most if not all, recent form is my guide here and I think the Hurricanes might just be hitting a purple patch at the right time, though, I probably would say that wouldn’t I?

SURE THING: A bit more Dane Coles tomfoolery will be a deciding factor, one way or the other.

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Brett’s note: Wow. That’s cold, man…

Christy

TIPS: BLUES, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, BRUMBIES

Is there an upset on the cards? It’s hard to see one. Waratahs? History tells you what you need to know. Reds? Nope. Drua? Against the Crusaders in knockout rugby, not a chance.

All three matches could be close for 40 minutes, but the bench and weight of pressure will tell. Class generally rises to the top.

The game we’re all interested in is the Brumbies’ home clash against the Hurricanes. There’s every chance the Kiwis could have four Super Rugby sides in the semi-finals.

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If that happens, it’ll only highlight Phil Waugh’s point on Tuesday about the discrepancy in class and depth on either side of the ditch.

SURE THING: TMO involvement will return. The stakes are higher. Could that help an Aussie side out? Plus, how many hands past the ruck will we see from the ‘Canes in Canberra. Nic Berry has his work cut out.

Brett

TIPS: BLUES, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, BRUMBIES

So this week looks worryingly straightforward again, and I’ve very deliberately left this line in from last week’s copy.

It’s hard to see teams one to three losing, but plenty seem happy to give the Brumbies little or no chance. Meh, whatevs, I think they’ll win it pretty well.

What I’m more interested in is trying to find the case for the Waratahs, Reds and Drua winning their finals. It’s easy to say they can’t and I’m sure plenty of you will. But who’s prepared to think of a way they can?

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The Reds beat the Chiefs less than a month ago, for example. If they can produce an excellent defensive performance and shut down Damien McKenzie’s options a month ago, then why not again this weekend?

The Crusaders led the Drua 12-0 after twenty minutes in Round 3, before the Drua scored 22 unanswered points to lead by 10 into the last ten minutes. The Crusaders didn’t regain the lead until the 79th minute, the Drua missed a drop goal under penalty advantage beyond time, and then kicked the penalty to win. Why not again?

And the Waratahs are playing the Blues, indisputably the biggest 50-50 prospect in the history of the universe. That’s comfortably the easiest case of all of them to make!

Mark Nawaqanitawase of the Waratahs. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

And before the question is asked, this doesn’t have to be done for the Hurricanes; they definitely can win. I just don’t think they will.

SURE THING: Monday morning grumblings about refereeing and competition format and gap between trans-Tasman partners and what it all supposedly means. Pfft, and people reckon Super Rugby is boring on the field…

Geoff

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TIPS: BLUES, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, HURRICANES

It’s hard to remember a round as predictable as this one. And when that happens to be quarter-final round, that means, yes, the Super Rugby competition remains frustratingly flawed.

Three ’no brainers’ and one genuine contest await us. And if any of the three underdogs deliver a miracle and make fools of all the smug tipsters, then I’ll be the first in line to congratulate them and eat humble pie. Or drink red Waratah Kava.

Last year’s 4th versus 5th match saw the Brumbies overcome the Hurricanes by ten points. It feels to me like the Hurricanes are travelling better this year, and the Brumbies no better, if not slightly off where they were last year. That’s enough for me to tip a turnaround; Canes by just a few, but enough.

SURE THING: No Australian teams in the semis will unleash the usual torrent of ’Super Rugby isn’t working for Australia’ commentary.

Which, if this is the outcome, would be demonstrably true. But almost none of the commentary will offer any rational alternatives or honestly examine what those options might be.

There are really only two choices; pull out of Super Rugby accepting all of the financial and high performance consequences, or stay in and get better.

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Harry

TIPS: BLUES, CHIEFS, CRUSADERS, HURRICANES

Sadly, three romps are likely.

The Waratahs do not look ready to compete for eighty minutes at Eden Park. Blues by at least two converted tries. The Reds seem unprepared for the Waikato. Chiefs by twenty or so. The Drua would give the Crusaders a hell of a contest in Fiji, but in Christchurch, it is not realistic. Saders by fifteen or more.

However, the final match of the first round of the playoffs looks box office. The two top try-scoring machines smash into each other, with a lovely clash of styles. The Hurricanes score even more tries than the prolific ACT Brumbies, but in 2023, both struggle to keep opponents under twenty points.

The disciplined, balanced template of the home side should just about see them through, but I have this sneaky feeling the Canes have a run in them. Digger’s daughter is seldom wrong.

SURE THING: If all the Australian teams are knocked out early, unnecessarily harsh doom-and-gloom rhetoric will flood the airwaves, but the truth is 2023 was already less successful for Aussie teams than before. Long term, something different has to happen for the competition to have vibrancy (and a full Allianz) on this side of the ditch/dutch.

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Quarter FinalsGeoffDiggerHarryBrettChristyThe Crowd
Overall617160666666
Last week353453
BLU (3) v (6) WARBluesBluesBluesBluesBluesBlues
CHI (1) v (8) REDChiefsChiefsChiefsChiefsChiefsChiefs
CRU (2) v (7) DRUCrusadersCrusadersCrusadersCrusadersCrusadersCrusaders
BRU (4) v (5) HURHurricanesHurricanesHurricanesBrumbiesBrumbiesHurricanes

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

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