Quarterfinals yield no surprises

Well, the quarterfinals were very predictable and a large percentage of our tipsters from around both the provinces picked all the winners if not the margins.

In fact, in Gore, seven of the eight tipsters had clear rounds. Anyone would think they colluded!

The Chiefs racked up 30 points by halftime against the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday and the game was over as a contest. The Chiefs certainly strung it together and I’m afraid the Reds had very few answers. They put some respectability into the score in the second spell, but the game had passed them by, with a final score of 43-21.

By contrast, the Hurricanes were scratchy in the first spell against the Rebels in Wellington on Saturday. They tried to play million-dollar rugby in the first spell without winning the contest up front and got found out. In the second spell they put that right and their rampaging forwards were unstoppable after that, reflected in the 47-20 win.

The Drua never win away from home and the Blues weren’t that impressive against them. The Blues forwards did beat them up, up front, and that convincingly won them the game, 36-5.

But it came at a huge cost as captain Patrick Tuipulotu did a knee and his season is done.

The Landers started well in Canberra on Saturday and were up by six closing in on halftime but it was not to be.

The Brumbies scored tries on both side of the break and were just too strong down the stretch for a gutsy Highlanders outfit. The Brumbies are nearly impossible to beat at home and so it proved, with their 32-16 win.

Three of our tipsters got the perfect round in the deep south including the second and third placegetters in Ben from Shoe Clinic and Invercargill’s best grocer Richard. Shane from GWDs still leads by a couple. Grant from Carpets and Drapes also scored 100% but I’m afraid will still be consigned the spoon for the winter!

So, what happens in the semis?

With Tuipulotu gone, the Brumbies will be smelling blood at Eden Park. But the Blues (12-) are showing a lot more steel under Vern Cotter and their pack are playing so well they should dominate the Brumbies’ eight even without the captain. Take it to the bank they make the final.

It’s not so straightforward in the Canes v Chiefs game at the Cake Tin. Both teams were impressive in their quarterfinals and both packs really stood up.

I still suspect the Canes (12-) pack is bigger and stronger, so on that basis I’m tipping them. But there are fascinating match-ups all across the park and All Black jerseys are on the line.

The clash of hookers will be worth the price of admission alone.

 - By Paul Dwyer