The Roar’s Super Rugby expert tips and predictions, Round 8: Lock in the Reds, pray for the Tahs, fear the jinx


It’s another short week and three of our panellists are backing up from round 7. The Crowd is predictably leaving the rest of the crew in its wake, while all doubts have been erased on the question of who is The Roar’s biggest jinx.

Christy Doran

Reds, Crusaders, Hurricanes, Rebels

The Reds might have given Harry McLaughlin-Phillips just his second start, but the 19-year-old is made of the right stuff. He’s tough and physical and hasn’t put a foot wrong since making his debut earlier this year.

Les Kiss’ side will just be too accurate and disciplined for Moana Pasifika, while Zane Hilton has the Reds’ set-piece humming.

The Waratahs might have beaten the Crusaders in round two, but they’ve lost another key man up front. Angus Bell’s absence is a blow too many. Indeed, Rob Penney’s props will be licking their lips. That’s where the game will be won and lost.

As for the New Zealand derby on Saturday, the Hurricanes are outsiders but they’ll continue their unbeaten run. They’re balanced and they have the muscle up front to boss the Chiefs.

The Rebels and Highlanders is another exciting match-up to look forward to. It’ll be loose and wild. Rebels, just. It’ll be the Taniela and Carter show.

Carter Gordon of the Rebels kicks the ball during the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and Queensland Reds at AAMI Park, on March 15, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Nick Wasiliev

Reds, Crusaders, Hurricanes, Rebels

We cross the halfway point of the regular season this weekend, and here’s hoping the sheer unpredictable nature of the competition continues. They may be on the road, but this fixture comes at a good time for the Reds, and that is not meant as disrespect to Moana Pasifika.

Kiss’ side hasn’t tasted victory since round five, so they will be desperate to get back in the good books, and with some good cavalry returning they should have enough to win here. Moana represent a banana skin side several teams have come close to tripping up on (and some others have). Burn me at the pyre, Tahs fans.

The Crusaders may not be on fire right now – but I think they’re in a better position than DC’s Tahs. The Tahs forward pack looks a lot less sinister with Angus Bell out of the picture, despite the welcome returns of Ned Hanigan and Langi Gleeson.

Ned Hanigan. (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Throw in the Crusaders coming off a bye, a win over the Chiefs the week before that, and the return of several key All Blacks, and I see them grabbing the win here.  I reckon this is the game of the round because the Chiefs have beaten the Canes in their last five encounters – yet the Hurricanes are coming off a bye in red-hot form. Both sides have beefed up, welcoming back key playmakers and All Blacks, and it has the makings of a prelude to a late-stage finals clash. The Canes at home should get it done – but by less than seven, given how strong Damian McKenzie has been this season.

Finishing up in Melbourne, the Rebels face a unique challenge in the Highlanders – the visitors will be throwing in a flyhalf rookie Ajay Faleafaga to start, but despite this, he’ll be supported by a solid pack with several All Blacks. The Rebels will be welcoming back cavalry across the park, with Andrew Kellaway and Lachie Anderson in the backs and Josh Kemeny in the forwards. If Taniela Tupou can nullify the challenge of Ethan de Groot coming off the bench, the hosts should get home. Expect a win by less than ten.

Hamish Bidwell 

Reds, Crusaders, Hurricanes, Rebels

A better week for those of us who enjoy contests. I’ll take the Reds in Whangarei.

Surely the Crusaders win in Sydney? Or do the Waratahs finally get it right? I’ve tipped the visitors but not with huge confidence.

Brain says Chiefs, but heart has leaned towards the Hurricanes. Either way, I’ll be intrigued to see the outcome.

I’d like to the Highlanders to win, but am assuming home advantage will tilt the balance the Rebels way.

Tony Harper

Reds, Crusaders, Chiefs, Rebels

Well don’t say you weren’t warned. Last week I was the only panellist to miss out on the clean sweep by opting for the Drua to beat the Rebels. At halftime I was still reasonably happy with my choice and then all hell broke loose.

This is what I wrote last week while tipping the Fijians for an upset: “See that? That’s the mock being put on poor old Frank Lomani. William H Macy is a fine actor but even he is no match as a “cooler” for your hapless The Roar editor.”

Bloody hell, did Frank ever lose his cool!

Frank Lomani of Fijian Drua leaves the field during the round seven Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and Fijian Drua at AAMI Park, on April 05, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The mock is so strong that I’m almost afraid to make these choices this week.

The Reds are a safe bet, I’m never tipping the Waratahs again (even though they beat the same team in Super Round), DMac will be the difference for the Chiefs and the presence of a young No.10 for the Highlanders up against Carter Gordon swings it for the Rebels. (Now just watch Ajay Faleafaga have the game of his life!)

Round 8ChristyNick Tony HamishThe CrowdOverall2823252329Last week44344MOA v REDBluesBluesBluesBlues?TAH v CRURebelsRebels DruaRebels?HUR v CHI ChiefsChiefs ChiefsChiefs?REB V HIGBrumbiesBrumbies BrumbiesBrumbies?

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