ITM Cup Round 5 started off with two upsets before settling down with some more predictable results, although not many people expected Hawke’s Bay to thrash Otago by so many points in the final round of the ITM Cup. There were some really tight matches this round with Taranaki, Southland and Waikato winning their matches in tight circumstances. Tasman will be kicking themselves (if only they kicked the ball into touch) against Taranaki.
There are upsets in about two games per round of seven or eight games, which are separating the top tipsters from the good tipsters. In ITM Cup Round 5, only seven percent picked North Harbour to win their first game of the season and only nine percent picking Northland to beat Otago. Northland is making it a habit of winning against the odds, this can catch some teams off-guard.
The Ranfurly Shield effect
Interestingly the Ranfurly Shield really affects results. Counties Manukau realised earlier this season that home games are tough as the challengers are fired up, while away games tend to have a hangover effect. Even, post Ranfurly Shield wins, both Counties and Hawkes Bay have been tipped over away from home.
Canterbury thrashed Wellington and it seems that barring any major catastrophe, they will finish the top dogs joining Auckland, Taranaki and Tasman in the finals. Taranaki are still running hot, although it should be Tasman on the hot list after their match. Hawke’s Bay are looking impressive, while Northland have also been on fire. Auckland are getting into gear and should make the ITM Cup semi-finals.
Wellington still hasn’t won a game this season and seem like relegation candidates, while Counties Manukau would give anything to get back to their 2013 form. Otago hit the wall in ITM Cup Round 5, maybe the Ranfurly Shield challenge was actually detrimental in the long run. The Bay of Plenty Steamers are still off the pace and simply don’t seem to have the calibre required to dominate the Championship.
In the Super Rugby Tips conference, Trish has a huge lead over yours truly, but like Canterbury, it will require a major catastrophe for anyone to catch her.
Here are the ITM Cup Round 5 video highlights
ITM Cup Round 5 review, who is hot and not, do you agree?