Rugby matters

Super Rugby tipping panel Week 17: Race in three

The equations for the final round of Super Rugby trans-Tasman are pretty clear, and it’s equally clear we have a race in three between the Blues, Highlanders and Crusaders to reach next Saturday’s final.

For the Blues, it’s pretty simple: don’t choke, and they’re in. They’ve got more than 20 differential points on the Highlanders and more than 30 on the Crusaders. Seats don’t get any boxier than what the Blues currently occupy. Surely, they can’t bugger this up.

The same applies to the Highlanders to be fair, albeit without the same history of disappointment and falling short as the Blues.

It’s a bit different for the Crusaders, though. They can’t just win if the Blues and Highlanders win as well, they have to win big. They essentially have to hope one of the other two trip up, or hope that neither get a bonus point, at which point the Crusaders need to bring out the abacus. At the moment, they’d need to win by 12 points plus whatever the Highlanders happen to win by.

The Hurricanes need two upsets, basically. That’s their best bet, because winning – even by plenty – won’t be enough. And the Chiefs need at least three upsets, no bonus points above them, and then need to run in a cricket score on the Waratahs.

Easy.

Last week
Harry and Dan 5, everyone else 4.

Overall
Harry and Dan 52, The Crowd 48, Geoff 47, Digger 44, Brett 41.

Harry
Reds, Brumbies, Crusaders, Blues, Chiefs

This is regression week. Regression to the mean. The Trans-Tasman tourney has been extreme. But what if that is the mean? And any Aussie win is the anomaly?

Or is a two-win week (40 per cent Aussie) the true mean in this long and complicated rugby rivalry?

Why am I even thinking this deeply? I have forgotten how to be wrong.

As my blood brother Mike Tyson once said, perhaps meaning both of us: “My skills are impetuous.”

I declare the mean is 3-2 Kiwi.

So, Friday is Aussie Night! ‘Canes and ‘Landers come up short against the two best teams from the really, really big island.

Len Ikitau celebrates with his Brumbies teammates.

(Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Saturday is Kiwi Day. Black Cap-level scoring all around.

Sure thing
Perfection.

Brett’s note: Or hubris?

Dan
Reds, Brumbies, Crusaders, Blues, Chiefs

Much as I want to, it seems I cannot find a way to produce a different set of tips from Harry. “Both Australian teams is the way to go this week,” I thought to myself on Sunday. “No one in their right mind will tip two sides from this side of the Tasman.”

Then on Monday? Bam – two Australian sides from Harry. What is it they say about best-laid plans…?

Clearly, the two of us see the game too similarly. We know the ‘Canes showed vulnerabilities in their opening three matches against the three weakest Aussie sides, vulnerabilities that were and will be punished by the two strongest.

We know the Highlanders had a great fixture, drawing the weary Reds at home first up, and that the Brumbies in Canberra are a tougher test than any they’ve had in the past four weeks.

We know the Crusaders don’t lose games they need to win in order to make a final, and that, at Eden Park, the Force will catch a bad case of the Blues.

And we know the Waratahs haven’t won a game this year, have deployed a form of defence that has attracted all manner of sieve-like cliches and that neither of those facts will change against the Chiefs.

Anton Lienert-Brown of the Chiefs celebrates

(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Sure thing
A selection smokey will demand selection in Dave Rennie’s Wallabies squad before it’s announced on Sunday with a dominant last-round performance.

Geoff
Reds, Brumbies, Crusaders, Blues, Chiefs

It was almost as if Harry and Dan were wired into Jordie Barrett’s brain and kicking leg last week. Any pundit who has that kind of influence deserves full respect. Barrett will surely kick better this week, but I fancy that the Reds will have a real crack at them and take home the paua fritters.

In what looks like match of the round in Canberra on Friday night, I like the Brumbies to finish their season on a high. Meanwhile, at the home of rugby, as much as the Rebels are improving and have a reasonable record against the Crusaders, there’s only one sane tip to be made.

Expect to see another honourable performance from the Force in Auckland, but right from the start of this competition the Blues have been very focused on redeeming themselves for missing the SR Aotearoa final. They won’t miss this time.

The Chiefs are starting to look a bit ragged at the edges and aren’t the same side without D Mac. But this is the ‘Tahs, remember. 12 straight losses will become 13. Unlucky for some.

Sure thing
Anyone who has a crack at rugby’s new drinking game – knocking back a beer every time Justin Harrison says “inside shoulder” – will be hammered well before halftime.

Digger
Hurricanes, Highlanders, Crusaders, Blues, Chiefs

Well, I tried picking Aussie sides and got burnt, then I didn’t pick any and got burnt again. I feel like I have been having fun with South Africans and fire pits.

Anyway, ‘Canes by plenty at home to finish the season off nicely, and no I will not explain how.

Aaron Smith has me tipping the Highlanders in Canberra, as I think he will prove the difference between the two sides, while the Crusaders I suspect will romp it in over the Sydney Rebels.

Blues will be made to work hard against the Force, but they will have too many guns in the end, while the Chiefs should have some fun going tit-for-tat against the Waratahs.

Sure thing
In a spot of controversy, Jordie Barrett will take his enforced All Black stand down for the Super rugby Trans-Tasman Final next week.

Jordie Barrett of the Hurricanes talks to his teammates

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Brett
Hurricanes, Brumbies, Crusaders, Blues, Chiefs

A fortnight ago, I put forward a Crusaders-Chiefs prediction for the final and the Chiefs were duly doomed. I’m frankly surprised the Crusaders kept their record intact as well. In hindsight, I should’ve picked the Blues like everyone else.

I’ll pick them this week, though. I’ll say it again; surely they can’t bugger up making a first Super Rugby final in nearly 20 years. The Force were still a bid document when the Blues last played a final.

The Crusaders and Chiefs shouldn’t have too much trouble with the Rebels and Waratahs, respectively. The ‘Chefs’ might just feast on the buffet that is the ‘Tahs defensive line and get that cricket score they need.

I think the Brumbies hold on at home despite Aaron Smith coming back. A disappointing start to trans-Tasman is still stinging the Brumbies, and they’ll be determined to finish strongly. They say playing spoiler isn’t part of their plans, but they’ll have a chuckle when they do.

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And I reckon it’s the Hurricanes to kick the weekend off. Not by plenty, but by a few. The Reds have unearthed some gems in recent weeks, but they’re a long way different team without James O’Connor.

Sure thing
You know what, this will be the weekend I get the perfect round. I’ve picked a unique set, I’m well off the pace again and even the Blues won’t disappoint me. And it will all count for naught.

It might just be the surest Sure Thing in panel history.

TT-5HarryBrettDanDiggerGeoffThe Crowd
HUR v REDREDHURREDHURRED?
BRU v HIGBRUBRUBRUHIGBRU?
REB v CRUCRUCRUCRUCRUCRU?
BLU v FORBLUBLUBLUBLUBLU?
WAR v CHICHICHICHICHICHI?
Last week545444
Overall524152444748

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

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Original source: https://www.theroar.com.au/2021/06/10/super-rugby-tipping-panel-week-17-race-in-three/

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