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Sport Super Rugby tipping panel, Week 3: Blues become Rebels

09:01  06 march  2021
09:01  06 march  2021 Source:   theroar.com.au

Queensland Reds beat the Melbourne Rebels in a dour Super Rugby AU match at Lang Park

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It seems this is going to be the way Super Rugby operates in 2021, with states and cities and local government regions going in and out of lockdown and forcing teams on the road for (hopefully only) weeks at a time.

Just as it looks like the Melbourne Rebels will finally get home after they play the Western Force on March 12, over the ditch the Blues stayed in Wellington last weekend and started looking for alternate training bases after Auckland went back into Stage 3 restrictions.

The rest of the country will come out of Stage 2 restrictions on Saturday night, which prompted the Crusaders-Hurricanes game to be held back to Sunday to allow it to be played in front of crowds in Christchurch. No such luck for the Chiefs-Highlanders game in Hamilton on Friday night, however.

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There’s a surprising amount of consensus among the panel this week, which begs the questions:

  • Is this weekend really as obvious as the panel are suggesting?
  • And is Digger really contemplating tipping adultery?

Maybe there’s more to unpack this week than first meets the eye.

Last week: Dan and The Crowd 4; Harry, Brett, and Geoff 3; Digger 2.

Overall: Dan and The Crowd 6; Brett 5, Harry and Geoff 4; Digger 3.

Joe Powell. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Dan

Chiefs, Force, Brumbies, Crusaders

I must say, the air up here is pretty thin. Good thing there’s no one else to have to share it with.

Cue an immediate drop down the ladder.

Neither of the Friday matches are particularly straightforward. If last year taught us anything, it was to avoid tipping the Chiefs at all costs, so I will approach their first game of 2021 by… tipping the Chiefs. They were woefully unlucky to go winless last season, and will be desperate to start the year off in the right fashion.

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In the later game, I cannot possibly bring myself to tip the Tahs after the last two weeks, although the desperation factor will surely make them at least a little bit tricky to beat. The Force might be on the road, but they showed far more starch against the Brumbies in Round 1 than NSW managed a week later. Tim Sampson’s men in a close one.

The last two fixtures seem to be simpler affairs. I haven’t seen anything in the last four years to suggest tipping against the Crusaders at home is a good idea, and similarly the Ponies are impossible to ignore in Canberra.

Sure thing: Matt To’omua won’t change his regular pre-game kicking routine again anytime soon.

(William West/AFP via Getty Images)

Brett

Highlanders, Force, Brumbies, Crusaders

Well, after one week of Aotearoa under our belts, naturally we’re all experts on all matters across the ditch.

Which, if we’re honest – and I am being, right now – has just confirmed our pre-season presumptions. That is, the Highlanders will be pretty handy this year, the Blues look worryingly ominous, the Hurricanes look ominously worrying, the Chiefs remain a mystery, and the Crusaders are the Crusaders.

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Ergo, the Highlanders and Crusaders should be fine to bookend the weekend with wins with and without crowds.

No-one picked the Waratahs last week, and I suspect that will be the case again this weekend – but for very different reasons.

And as much as the Rebels disrupted the Reds last week, they’ll have to do a bit more than just disrupt against the Brumbies this week. Melbourne won a lot of admirers for coming up with a plan that very nearly worked a treat, however.

Sure thing: Rob Penney to receive the full support of the NSW Waratahs board early next week, after another record loss this weekend to Force. (30 points or more, to answer your question.)

Rob Penney. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Harry

Highlanders, Force, Brumbies, Crusaders

Dan is impeccable.

He is the Dan Brown of the rugby Da Vinci Code. He is what you get when you mate Daniel Day-Lewis with Danny Boyle, with a side of Dan DeVito. The season is young, but Dan is the rabbit, and we are the hounds. As the dog track announcer howled – sounding a bit like Jack Nicholson – as the mechanical bunny was released and slingshot like Owen Farrell’s odds of being Lions 10 – at the start of the last race in the desert when I lost all my money and pride: “Here comes Spaaaaarky!”

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The Chiefs are a mystery mob. The Highlanders are plucky. Mystery versus pluck. Pluck me, I’ll take the Jacobins in a thriller.

The Chooks have been plucked. Naked and alone, crying on the floor. The Force can’t score very easily. This will be a 9-6 old school match. Perth defeats Sydney.

The Brumbies may not be beloved in their homeland. They may not be as sexy as the Chooks and the Thornbirds. But they will get the job done.

The Crusaders will pillage and frustrate and negate and obfuscate and abnegate and arrogate and never scintillate, but they will properly bash the Windies.

Sure thing: I will get back in this Dan thing.

Sevu Reece. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Geoff

Highlanders, Force, Brumbies, Crusaders

Is there a correlation between Warren Gatland stepping aside and Wales winning a Triple Crown, and the Chiefs starting this season off on a winning note? Probably not, but that’s still not going to stop me picking the Highlanders to upset them at home. The southerners were exposed for having just a few too many rough edges against a well-oiled Crusaders last week, but the Chiefs aren’t in the same league and they’ll be better for the run.

The Waratahs aren’t a total lost cause by any stretch, but if the Force don’t win this, their fans will rightly wonder when it is they will ever notch a Super Rugby win.

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The Rebels look on track to put a much stronger side out in 2-3 weeks’ time when they arrive home. That’s not soon enough to take the points here against the Brumbies. And the Canes scored a remarkable win down in Christchurch last year, but with question marks surfacing again about their engine room and without TJ Perenara, it’s hard to see it happening again.

Sure thing: As good as accused as cheating by the Stan commentary team for deliberately slowing the game down, Rebels’ prop Rhys Van Nek will be gifted a year’s free subscription to Stan – a nice gesture in apology for him to enjoy while he sits out the season at home with a serious leg injury.

Tomas Cubelli. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Digger

Highlanders, Force, Brumbies, Crusaders

Friday night shapes up as a cracker, the Chiefs hell-bent on putting last season behind them and kicking off the season in style up against a Highlanders side who know they let themselves down last weekend. Given the Chiefs are a little bit of an unknown at this point and by virtue of a hit-out last week, the Highlanders might sneak it.

The Waratahs and Force is a head-scratcher. Were the Tahs that bad last weekend? They will be surely motivated to put in a better show, but I can’t shake that the Force might have a bit too much up front over 80, so the Force it is.

Unfortunately, the last two games both look a tad one-sided, the Brumbies at home along with what I see as greater scoring potential will be too much for the Rebels to handle.

And as much as I have delved into my inner deep well of eternal optimism, I cannot envisage a Hurricanes win away to what once again looks a front-running Crusaders side. I will deny I said or wrote this.

Sure thing: Touch judges will be reassessing the accuracy of their conversion techniques by both actually watching the conversion rather than looking at their colleague and copying him.

Harry Brett Dan Digger Geoff The Crowd
CHI v HIG HIG HIG CHI HIG HIG CHI
WAR v FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
BRU v REB BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU BRU
CRU v HUR CRU CRU CRU CRU CRU CRU
Overall 4 5 6 3 4 6
Last week 3 3 4 2 3 4

Get your votes in now.

Is anybody even watching Super Rugby? .
Australian rugby union continues its downward spiral. While it had been heralded as a new beginning, with a new CEO, new board members and most importantly a new television deal, the first few weeks of the 2021 Super Rugby AU season have demonstrated that nothing has changed. Instead of bringing the game to the masses and competing with the far stronger AFL and NRL product offerings and supporter bases, only one game a week is shown on free-to-air TV on 9Gem, a second-tier station that many don’t even have access to on their TV programming.

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