2. Sharks 32
3. Waratahs 31
4. Chiefs 27
5. Stormers 27
6. Hurricanes 26
7. Blues 25
8. Brumbies 24
9. Force 24
10. Reds 16
11. Bulls 15
12. Highlanders 11
13. Cheetahs 11
14. Lions 7
I will give a run home, pessimistic and optimistic forecasts and then do up some tables with my final table thoughts...
Blues, Sharks, @ Reds, Highlanders.
It is hard to see any scenario whereby the Crusaders don't grab the top spot and home field advantage throughout the finals. The run home starts with two tricky home games, however the last two rounds at Queensland and at home to the lowly Highlanders should be relatively easy money.
Professors tip: 4 W, 3 BP (19P) (58)
@ Waratahs, @ Crusaders, Cheetahs, Chiefs
A brutal two week stretch comes at just the wrong time for the Second placed Sharks. You can put a strong probability on the Sharks dropping their away ties with the Tahs and Crusaders, then a nice rebound at home to the Cheetahs. A lot of the hopes in Durban may boil down to the way that they handle the Chiefs - a team that is getting hot at the right time.
Professors tip: Maybe 2 W, 2 BP +10points (42)
Sharks, @ Bulls, @ Stormers, @ Reds
How's this for a tipsters nightmare. The Waratahs have been much maligned this year, but still sit comfortably in the top four. Ewen Mc has probably not deserved his treatment as the Waratahs have played above a lot of sensible forecasts already, especially given the state of the front row. Anyway, I'll give them a wins at home to the Sharks and away to the Reds. More than likely they will get one of their away games as well.
Professors tip + 3W, 3 BP +15Points (46)
Reds, @ Force, @ Lions, @ Sharks
The Chiefs, like Hansel are so hot right now. They should be even hotter after the Reds come calling on the weekend. The Lions should be a gimme for this bunch as well, so a lot can ride on which Force team they play next weekend. If this team has true designs on a title, they should pick up the first three of these and then they travel to Durban for the battle for second spot.
Professors tip - out on a limb, 4W, 3 BP+ 19 (46)
@ Highlanders, Brumbies, Waratahs, @Lions
This is your big drop team. They might struggle to get the points away in Otago. To beat both good Australian teams in Successive weeks could be a struggle. Fortunately, the Lions come to town in the last week.
Professors tip: 2W, 2BP +10 (37)
@ Cheetahs, Lions, Force, @ Blues
If any team can make some serious noise in the concluding stages, here they are. The first three games should be gimmes for these guys, and then they visit the maddeningly inconsistent Blues in the final round.
Professors tip: + 4W, 3BP +19 (45)
@ Crusaders, @ Reds, @ Highlanders, Canes
Your trendy pick for the S14 title every year in recent memory has failed to get it together yet again. It's hard to see how this group manage to lose some of the games that they do, for league followers, this is the early 2000's St George Dragons. The Wheels have come off and you have to think that the Cru and the Canes will knock them over. Even the Reds might bring off an upset.
Professors tip: 1 W, 3 BP + 7 (32)
Lions, @ Stormers, @ Bulls, @ Force
Time for some overdue credit for the much maligned Fisher King. The King has gotten more out of the Brumbies than anyone could have assumed possible at the begginning of the year. Sadly, it is hard to see them coming up with the four game sweep here that they need to make the final four.
Professors tip: 2 wins, 4 BP (12) (36)
Bye, Chiefs, @ Hurricanes, Brumbies
Top four looks totally out of reach with the Bye coming up. Would count themselves lucky to get a win in their games against the Chiefs and Hurricanes. The Brumbies game is a coin flip.
Professors tip: 1 win, 2 BP + 6 (30)
@ Chiefs, Blues, Crusaders, Waratahs.
Will not win another game. Shame, because they have been much improved this year and can hope for a mid table finish next year.
Professors tip: 0W, 2BP +2 (18)
Bye, Waratahs, Brumbies, @Cheetahs
For a team that many pundits considered a top chance of winning the competition this year, the Bulls can at best play the role of Spoilers for the Waratahs campaign. May take two of the last three (Cheetahs, Brumbies) to finish a poor season on a winning note.
Professors tip 2W, 2BP +10 (25)
@Stormers, @Cheetahs, Blues, @Crusaders.
Your early season favourite for the Wooden Spoon will unlikely need more than a couple of Bonus points to avoid that dubious honour. Tipping them to upset the horrible Blues in the second last round.
Professors tip 1W, 2BP +6 (17)
Hurricanes, Highlanders, @ Sharks, @ Bulls.
Will likely get the chocolates at home to the Highlanders. May be quite competitive in the other three games.
Professors tip: 1W, 3 BP +7 (18)
@Brumbies, @Hurricanes, Chiefs, Stormers
An historically awful season. Hard to see them taking more than a bonus point out of their last 4 games.
Professors tip 1BP +1 (8)
So, how do we line up if I get this right... my end of season table looks like this:
1. Crusaders 58
=2. Waratahs 46
=2. Chiefs 46
4. Hurricanes 45
5. Sharks 42
6. Stormers 37
7. Brumbies 36
8. Blues 32
9. Force 30
10. Bulls 25
11. Reds 18
12. Cheetahs 18
13. Highlanders 17
14. Lions 8
So, I have the Chiefs and Hurricanes improving on their current standings considerably, the Waratahs being a chance at hosting a final. The Lions a mortal lock for the spoon.
I think that the run home is going to kill the South African contenders. Given the Sportingbet market (down at the moment, link to come!) Has the Hurricanes and Chiefs as your outsiders of the top group to make the final 4, I think that investing in the two of them to make the top 4 is a sound strategy, and one that I will be doing once the market is up. The Hurricanes at $13 to win the Super 14 is excellent value. If any team can knock of the Crusaders, you have to think it is them.
Anyway, Enjoy your Rugby and Punting...