I tipped 4 from 7 last week , missing the Crusaders, Highlanders and Lions, which all ended up being close games anyway. I’m pretty filthy about not checking the team list before I tipped the Chiefs because Chris Noakes and Phil Burleigh, who I played with at Bay of Plenty in ITM Cup, were both playing for the Highlanders– had I realised, I’d have tipped them!
A particular highlight for me was the Blues v Crusaders game. Pollock refereed that game really well. I know some decisions were contentious, but the way he reffed that game allowed two good teams play some really tough, exciting, fast rugby.
Chiefs v Blues – Waikato
Picking the Blues here. They only just lost in a really high quality game against the Crusaders, and had the opportunity to win at the death. The Chiefs are decimated by injuries, and I don’t know that they have the firepower to score enough points.
Rebels v Waratahs – AAMI Stadium
I may be nuts, but I’ve picked an upset here – Rebels. Everyone seemed to point at how disappointing the Reds were against the Tahs last week, but the Tahs still lost to an apparently disappointing Reds outfit. The Rebels are coming into the game on the back of some pretty decent trial form, and although it would’ve been great for them to play last week, they’ll be hungry for the win. Factor in fantastically vocal supporters and a big atmosphere at AAMI stadium, and the Rebels could get up. Also the absence of Barnes again is a big loss for the Tahs.
Lions v Hurricanes – Ellis Park
I’ll go for the Hurricanes this week. They very nearly won despite having all three props in the sin bin at various stages of the game, including 2 in at once. That they didn’t let in any tries in that period shows they are doing something right defensively. The Hurricanes are fielding an unchanged side, so the combinations will be better, and some of the kinks from the last round will be worked out. As for the Lions? Last week they had a bit of help from the referee and got out of jail.
Highlanders v Crusaders – Dunedin
I’m biased: out of loyalty for my Bay of Plenty teammates, Burleigh and Noakes, I’m tipping the Highlanders. I liked that the Highlanders weren’t overawed by the Chiefs side which looked great on paper last week, instead they just got on with the job at hand. I think their captain, Mackintosh, is immense, and their entire front row is underrated. But the Crusaders have shown that they can win without McCaw and Carter which is an ominous sign for the rest of the season.
Reds v Force
The Reds showed last week that good teams can play bad and still win games. Like all kicking 10s, Harris will build with every game. I thought the Force had a good game plan against the Brumbies, but the players weren’t quite up to executing it on the night. I’m backing the Reds at home, but I think the Force will be very competitive.
Cheetahs v Bulls – Vodacom Park
This is a derby match, and if it’s anything like their Currie Cup clashes, there will be lots of points scored, but nothing in it. I’m picking the Bulls to get up but Brussow is a wildcard: if Joubert is in a penalising frame of mind, he could give away plenty, and in doing so gift Morne Steyn and the Bulls a lot of points. The Cheetahs don’t have a great record against the Bulls in Super Rugby, but this game will be close.
Stormers v Sharks – Newlands
I’m going to stick with the Stormers who would’ve gained a lot of confidence from their win over the Hurricanes in Round 1. I think Bekker has been outstanding for the Stormers, and I think he could be the difference this week. The Sharks seem to have a lot of new players and it’ll take a while for them to really gel.
Taps is also sitting at 5 from 7 after last weekend’s tips, missing only the Chiefs and Blues games. This week he’s picked: