I was pretty happy with my 5 from 7 last week – the Hurricanes’ last-minute heroics got them up over the Blues, and the Brumbies surprised a lot of people with their win over the Highlanders, so I was close to 7. But using that logic, with the closeness of all the games (except the Bulls) I could’ve also tipped only 1 for the week. The games aren’t getting any easier to pick – by this time of the year you can usually pick a side that’s struggling, but that’s not the case this year.
23 from 34 – respectable??
Highlanders v Rebels
I was really happy to see the Rebels post their first win last week. I thought their first 30min was their best passage of play in their (short) history and it set up their win. Cipriani was on song and the Rebels were playing beautifully. I think the Highlanders will bounce back this week against the Rebels.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
The Hurricanes pulled a great win out of the fire against the Blues last week and the Cheetahs were better than I thought they would be against the Crusaders. All the same, I’m tipping the Hurricanes at home will defeat the travel-weary Cheetahs. It could be by a big margin too.
Chiefs v Waratahs
The Waratahs will be relieved to get a win at home against the Sharks. The Chiefs, after starting the season a little shaky, have been playing some great rugby. I think the Chiefs‘ back line will show its class against an injury-ravaged Waratahs back line. I would have loved to see both of these teams play each other at full-strength though.
Brumbies v Sharks
I think the Sharks last week looked like a tired team. The jet-lag flying from South Africa straight to Sydney is so much worse than flying to Perth to play the Force on the way back from South Africa(which is what the Hurricanes and Reds are both able to do). But the Sharks will be recovered now. Despite their lethargy, they only JUST lost to the Waratahs. The Brumbies surprised the Hurricanes, but that won’t happen again this season. I’m tipping the Sharks, but it’ll be another really close game.
Force v Reds
It hurts me to do it, and I’m not confident at all in this tip. In fact, I really am hoping I’m wrong here, but I’m tipping the Force. The Reds copped a belting last week which has to be hard to come back from. With the effects of travel, they also realistically have only had half a week of quality training sessions to fix what went wrong last week. The Force will be stinging from last week, and looking to build on their form of the past two weeks.
Lions v Crusaders
The Crusaders welcome Dan Carter back as their starting 10, and I think they will get up over the Lions. I don’t think it will be the cakewalk some might think though. The Crusaders are still getting their characteristic flair and fluency, but they’re showing signs they are starting their inevitable march to the finals.
Stormers v Bulls
After watching the Bulls‘ annihilation of the Reds, I can’t go past them this week. Their ability to score tries should see them get over the Stormers who, although undefeated, haven’t scored any bonus points in doing so. I think we’re in for a close, low-scoring affair. Interestingly, there’s no real home ground advantage for the Stormers here – the Bulls don’t have a problem winning there.
Taps tipped 3 from 7 last week, leaving him at 20 from 34 for the season. This week he’s gone for
And the Reds of course