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SUPER RUGBY'S UNPREDICTABILITY!

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SUPER RUGBY'S UNPREDICTABILITY!

SUPER RUGBY'S UNPREDICTABILITY!

Tom_Robinson_Blues_2019_primary
ANYONE involved in a work, online, or pub tipping comp, or in my case trying to steer the punters in the right direction on TAB Trackside Radio on Friday mornings, are probably doing a lot of head scratching over this year’s Super Rugby.
 
For example, how do the Waratahs beat the Crusaders one week and lose to the Sunwolves the next? 
 
How do the Chiefs go four losses and a draw to start and then win two on the road on around the world dash that takes in Pretoria and Buenos Aires?
 
Even the fallback option of “take the home team” failed us this past weekend, with just one home win, by the Blues at Eden Park.
The positive is that unpredictable is good entertainment, and an even competition is also good. 
 
The negative is that inconsistent is bad.
 
It has also become more necessary than ever to hold off until we know who is injured, and in which direction the bales of cotton wool are heading any given weekend.
 
New Zealand Power Rankings: 
 
1) Crusaders: We confidently predicted a tighter match with the Hurricanes, but what we got was a similar lop sided scoreline to that of Christchurch a few weeks back, and a clinic in how to build scoreboard pressure, drive a team to distraction with great defence, and pounce on every opportunity.
Masterful, given the absolute glut of ball and territory the Hurricanes won and wasted.
 
2) Chiefs: Winning in Pretoria and Buenos Aires just pips beating the Sunwolves and Stormers at home, so they go ahead of the Blues, even if they’re still bottom of the NZ table.
Big ups to scrum coach Nick White, because that’s what firstly saved their bacon, and then got them over the line to win it.
 
3) Blues: A few niggly mistakes which helped keep a determined and powerful, if limited Stormers team in the game, but still had the strike power to get the job done, scoring a couple of spectacular tries.
 
4) Hurricanes: We may need to judge them on games against anyone not called the Crusaders.
Frustration, that at times gave way to panic. For all their good assets, they are probably lacking one really big forward, and Andries Ferreira turning up with a crook knee was not what they thought they had ordered.
 
5) Highlanders: A week off and so no win now for four weeks, has seen them slip out of the playoff zone. Big game this week against the Canes. 
 
Eye Catching Kiwis Who Are Not All Blacks, A Couple of Whom Definitely Will Be: 
 
1) Tom Robinson (pictured):  Northland has produced some fantastic locks and loosies over the years, and this kid is right out of that mould, making, literally, giant strides. Add to that 23 tackles without a miss against one of the bigger, meaner packs in the competition. (Photo: Photosport)
 
2) Will Jordan: That’s one great set of wheels.
 
3) Hayden Parker: You can count on the fingers of one finger, the number of times he’s missed a goal in the last season and a half. Not likely to become an All Black, but could end up in a red and white jersey.
 
4) Aiden Ross: Has found his feet at Super Rugby level, and with Nathan Harris and Nepo Laulala is giving the Chiefs a very good front row combination.
 
5) Luke Jacobsen: An unsung hero of the win in BA.
 
Aussie Conference:
 
Jubilation over last week’s win over the Crusaders came to a shuddering halt as the Sunwolves slammed their fist down on the mute button in Waratah-land.
While the focus was on a nightmare showing by inexperienced flyhalf Mack Mason and the rest-related absence of Bernard Foley and Adam Ashley-Cooper, neither of whom, it should be said, had been playing particularly well, Kurtley Beale was just as big of a culprit in Newcastle with his confused running.
 
The Rebels have bounced back to the top of the table after a tough trip to South Africa and had way too much class for the Reds, a chance for Quade Cooper to score a few points on and off. Luke Jones is looking like the guy who might become Australia’s next really good No.6.
 
South Africa:
 
Something woke me up, I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I watched the second half of the Bulls - Sharks game. It was not pretty, in fact at times it was downright ugly, and yet it was strangely compelling. Two teams trying like mad to win, never mind how, and in the process beat the hell out of each other.
 
Which is what got Schalk Brits and Akker van der Merwe sent off, I guess, but even that was entertaining, especially when Brits decided to go sit with some Sharks fans in the stand.
 
The Jaguares had a great chance to put the Chiefs away but their scrum is not what it used to be, and they will give away dumb penalties.
 
The Stormers showed a ton of character an Eden Park, and its impossible not to admire the sheer physicality and relentless effort Eben Etzebeth and Pieter Steff du Toit bring every week.
 
Interesting to note that du Toit, who will be a key Springbok this year, has played every minute of every game, and while you have to salute his commitment, it is surely not going to help the greater cause.