Rugby matters

Super Rugby tipping panel week 12: Double-final extravaganza week

It’s time for a couple of deciders! Nearly three months of brilliant rugby on both sides of the Tasman comes to a separate but collective climax.

And there will be something special about going from one final straight into the next – something that really should be given due consideration by the format-makers for whatever 2022 is going to look like.

Why have one final when you can have a whole weekend of finals?

Anyway, that is what’s on the cards this weekend, so stock the fridge and the snacks, and hold our calls.

Dan maintains a narrow lead, but will he take the clubhouse lead into Super Rugby Trans-Tasman?

Oh, didn’t we tell you? Yes, there’s another six weeks to go after this!

Last week: Dan and The Crowd 3; Harry, Brett, Digger, and Geoff 2.

Overall: Dan 31, Harry 30, Geoff and The Crowd 29, Brett and Digger 27.

Dan

Crusaders, Reds

One Super Rugby final is always worth looking forward to. But two? In the space of one evening? Stop it. (But also, don’t.)

The first of these deciders will be won by the red-clad home side. The second will be won by the hosts who wear red.

Yes, it’s rather boring to just prime for the minor premiers in both competitions, but both the Crusaders and Reds are deserving of favouritism.

The former looks the most vulnerable I can remember them being heading into a must-win match, with the Chiefs boasting an impressive and potent combination of resilience and skill. Yet I just can’t picture the Saders losing a final, nor dropping consecutive games against the same opponent. Pencil them in for a fifth-straight title.

The Reds will have been glad indeed to see the Force offer up such physical resistance to the Brumbies in their qualifying final. Having only played once in the past three weeks is no great benefit to the hosts, but it’s preferable to seeing three key forwards limp off seven days before a final.

They’ll have ironed out the wrinkles which marred their Round 10 loss (the posts, Liam James: point to them), and though Hunter Paisami is a big loss, they have the quality to cover his absence and win a nail biter.

Sure thing: Given their history over the past two seasons, we can expect several dozen lead changes between the Reds and Brumbies.

Hunter Paisami of the Reds

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Digger

Chiefs, Reds

In Christchurch, one would have got little return for predicting the Crusaders would be hosting the final at the start of the season, however most, if not all, would have looked upon you as a tad mad to suggest the Chiefs would be their opponent.

But after a lacklustre start they have simply continued to grow and grow, refusing to die and knocking the more fancied over. There is a hint of fairy-tale about this year’s Chiefs side and while the Crusaders’ finals pedigree is well known and their home finals record is currently flawless, the Chiefs might just get this done!

Over to Brisbane and the Reds do seem the obvious choice. They have had the wood on the Brumbies in their two previous matches and had the loss they needed to the Force to sharpen their senses. Plus, a week off is always useful.

The Ponies will not make this easy but, like I am tipping in NZ, it might just be time for a new champ to lift the trophy.

Sure things: Can the demonic little troll once again prove the difference on top of what might just be one of the most influential Super Rugby seasons by an individual? Macca to prove the difference and JOC to show his ever-increasing influence with a man of the match performance.

Damian McKenzie and Jonah Lowe of the Chiefs

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Brett
Crusaders, Brumbies

Well, we’re at the last weekend of the domestic seasons on both sides of the ditch, and it’s fair to say we’ve got here with three of the four teams we expected.

But when you think about it, the other New Zealand finalist was always a bit up in the air. The Blues were probably favoured in pre-season, but they out-Blued themselves over the course of the season. The Highlanders started OK but faded. The Hurricanes faded early and managed the occasional blip.

I don’t think I ever expected the Chiefs to win through to the Aotearoa final. Even at the halfway point of the season, they were 2-2 and with a biggest winning margin of six. Of course, they won pretty much everything since and stormed into the final with a week to spare.

Will it be enough to cause the upset of the New Zealand sports year? Probably not. But what a story if they can!

The Australian final is going to be tight. Tight as a drumskin tight. Tight as a Fox Sports accountant in a rights negotiation tight. I mentioned back after the second meeting this season that the Reds’ 24-22 win was the fifth game of the last six played since the start of 2020 to be decided by less than a try, and I can’t see how the decider will be any different. Queensland are warm favourites, but there won’t be much between them and the ACT once the ball’s kicked off.

In truth, I’ve completely warmed to the idea of a double-upset, except I have just a little bit more confidence in this Brumbies group than I do of the current Chiefs.

Sure thing: I don’t know which one, but I feel like one of these matches is going to need extra time to decide it. I just hope they work out how it will work.

True story: after Domingo Miotti kicked a 68th-minute penalty to narrow the qualifying final to 15-9, we started wondering on radio if we might be in for some extra time. But what would be the format, we wondered? Extra time, golden try, or just golden point again?

The question was asked behind the scenes, and the answer eventually came back: extra time, with golden try.

No, I still haven’t worked out what that means. I hope someone has.

Tom Wright of the Brumbies scores a try

(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Harry
Crusaders, Reds

I’m less sure of these tips than I would’ve been a month ago. But home is a real thing.

JOC has come full circle, from callow fellow with lots of problems to senior statesman. He’s always had oodles of talent, now I find myself wanting the complete Hollywood-Bollywood ending.

Sam Whitelock is the ultimate grinder. Expressionless, or perhaps hidden behind mountains of hair, he just works. Luckily for him, he has the Jordan of rugby. Chiefs should make the verdict wait until 65:00 or so, but I think a late stampede takes the cake.

Sure thing: Dan steadily steered his ship and talked the least trash. Good on ya.

James O'Connor of the Reds

James O’Connor. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Geoff
Crusaders, Reds

Anyone who tipped the Chiefs to win Super Rugby Aotearoa at the beginning of the year would have been certified as crazy as Billy Harmon being put in charge of the captain’s challenge. But they arrive in Christchurch this week with a well-balanced side and a real chance of winning.

Despite the consistently huge work rate of Sam Whitelock, the Crusaders haven’t delivered the dominant performances of prior years. But on balance, they have more avenues to victory and I expect things will once again go their way.

In two matches this year, the difference between the Reds and Brumbies has come down to the scrum. With James Slipper, Pete Samu and Folau Fainga’a banged up last week, you don’t need to be a brain surgeon to figure out where the Queenslanders are going to apply the heat.

With a huge home crowd behind them, there is a sense that – despite not yet being the finished product – this is the Reds’ time.

Sure thing: Having discovered that his Maldives resort isn’t planning on showing the Reds vs Brumbies grand final, Michael Slater will go ballistic, demanding that if Scott Morrison isn’t prepared to fly him home in time, the very least Australia can do is to arrange for a live feed into his room, along with an open mini-bar tab, and an apology to Bernard Tomic for being bumped off his perch as Australia’s No.1 sporting flog.

HarryBrettDanDiggerGeoffThe Crowd
CHI v CRUCRUCRUCRUCHICRUAnnounced
RED v BRUREDBRUREDREDREDFriday
Overall302731272929
Last week233323

Get your tips in now.

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Original source: https://www.theroar.com.au/2021/05/06/super-rugby-tipping-panel-week-12-double-final-extravaganza-week/

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