The Waratahs may already have the minor premiership stitched up in the competition proper but it’s anything but decided in the tipping comp! Heading into the final round of the regular season a slip up from our long time leader and a perfect round from one of the chase pack has thrown a cat among the pigeons: it’s neck and neck!
Whether it was complacency from our long time leader The Rhumdoggs, or stunning strategy not seen since Steven Bradbury took the Gold in 2002, from Braveheart81, we’ll probably never know. What we do know is that the former dropped two tips on the weekend and the latter nailed a perfect round and in the process jumped into equal first place. In the finals series with Jokers at play and only a couple of games each round there is always a risk that a tipper will fall out of contention quickly though, so a solid final round this week is vital.
If you’re not in contention for the top prize though, never fear. This round commences the final period for the tipping comp and we are all back in the running for a prize. The best tipper overall from now until the final will pick up the last of the minor prizes. How do you make sure you stand a chance? Read on and find out…..
It’s Derby Week
There is only one game this round that isn’t a derby game and in my opinion and according to the tipping stats, you all think it’s a foregone conclusion too. So we’ll cover that one in the Joker section later but for now, it’s Derby Week!
Blues vs Chiefs. There will be plenty of teams willing the Blues on in this one but I’m sorry to say, I don’t think that will be enough. They lose so much with the loss of inspirational leader, Luke Braid and compounding their problems, they will also be missing vast experience with the injury to Tony Woodcock as well. Chiefs to win this one.
Brumbies vs Force. As far as the Australian conference goes, this is the big one. There is the faintest of chances that both teams could make the top 6 but in all likelihood, only the winner of this game will progress. Comparisons made between the two based on previous seasons form are irrelevant as the Force have shed their also-ran tag well and truly and have announced themselves loudly as contenders. Both teams had strong starts to the season but have settled into a roughly 50% win ratio for the second half of the season.
The Force (55%) have the edge though over the Brumbies (43%) in this regard. I’ve mentioned a few times that when a Brumbies opposition scores more than 24 points, the Brumbies lose. The Force have averaged 24.25 in their last four wins so in case you needed any more evidence, this one is likely going to be close. I think if the Force could get an early lead they will win it but I also think the Brumbies, with their hordes of injured players returning will be able to prevent that happening. Brumbies to sneak home.
Crusaders vs Highlanders. It’s all on the line for the Highlanders and while having to play the Crusaders at home for your survival sounds tough, spare a thought for the Hurricanes who have no say at all in their future. The men from Dunedin could finish anywhere from top of their conference with a week off and a home semi, to out of the finals race altogether so you better believe they will be turning up to play.
The Crusaders on the other hand are the quintessential professionals and while they haven’t been the Crusaders of old this season, they’ve been here before plenty of times and they know what they need to do and how to do it. I’d love to see the Highlanders win this one and claim that top spot but along with 94% of you, I don’t think they’ll get the result this weekend. Crusaders to take the chocolates and top spot in the NZ conference.
Reds vs Waratahs. The minor premiers vs the 12th placed Reds. All of the numbers, facts and logic say that this one will be one of the easiest tips of the round. Tahs vs Reds though don’t always go to script though. Tahs fans will have a little nagging feeling that they can’t shake and even the most jaded of Reds fans will have trouble silencing their inner optimist for this clash.
There’s a rumour doing the rounds that the Reds are unleashing a secret weapon for this game and names like O’Connor and Samo have been bandied about – all unconfirmed though. Even if the Reds have recruited Suzie to look after the Tahs meals in Brisbane, I doubt it would be enough. The smart tips are on the Waratahs.
Lions vs Cheetahs. As dead a rubber as you’ll see with this game. 13th vs 14th. The loser will grab the SA conference wooden spoon though so there will at least be something at stake. Both teams had wins last week, but the Cheetahs rolling the Sharks was the big shock. Even so, I’m going to tip the Lions in this one. They seem to grow another leg in front of their home crowd and should do again.
Stormers vs Sharks. The Sharks have the top spot in the SA conference all locked up but will be ruing a couple of dropped games that have seen them go from competition leaders to third spot and eyeing off a tough run to the final. In terms of SA derbies though, the Sharks will have a tough match this weekend, taking on the Stormers at Newlands.
The Stormers are on a 4 game winning streak and kept the Bulls scoreless last week, so they won’t be easy beats. The Sharks have lost two in a row now and one of those losses was against the Stormers just before the Test window. The bookies can’t separate them but you all seem to be favouring the Sharks. I’m on the Stormers though. If you want to try for an unpopular tip to gain some ground on the crowd, you should get on them too.
As I mentioned above there is only one tip for the Joker this week. Yes the Bulls haven’t won a game since May and haven’t scored a point in over a month but them beating the Rebels at Loftus is as sure as I’m standing here. Well I’m sitting actually, and I’m probably no longer ‘here’ if you want to be pedantic but you get the picture. Lock it up and throw away the key. I know it and 97% of you know it as well. This stat is probably the only surprising thing. How did Daz’s one tip get 3% representation? A 2.9% margin for error maybe? The Bulls are going to trample the Rebels.