itm cupThe ITM Cup Round 3 highlight was the Otago vs Hawkes Bay Ranfurly Shield match which was a nail biter and saw the Log of Wood heading to Hawkes Bay in front of abour 20,000 fans in Dunedin.  This was a glowing endorsement of how the Ranfurly Shield has breathed a new lease of life into the ITM Cup with Championship teams experiencing rare Ranfurly Shield fever.  Compare and contrast the 20,000 crowd in Dunedin in the last game of Round 3 with the two thousand fans who showed up to the first game of ITM Cup Round 3 in Wellington last Wednesday.

The biggest upset of ITM Cup Round 3 was Tasman’s 40 – 20 win over Counties, while not many SuperBru tipsters picked Hawkes Bay to lift the Ranfurly Shield even with their star studded team.

There were some interesting pieces of rugby in ITM Cup Round 3 with Canterbury showing their credentials as Premiership contenders by thrashing Waikato.  The Southland Stags one point loss to Taranaki was painful to watch with a period of two tries in two minutes being of some of the worst rugby I have ever seen.  Otago were unlucky against Hawkes Bay.  I love both of the first five eighths on display with Ihaia West from Hawkes Bay showing that he is destined for higher honours while Hayden Parker from Otago went from hero to zero by setting up Otago’s last try before missing the conversion and having his dropped goal charged down.  How did Ben Franks get away with not moving out of the way at the end of the game?

The North Harbour vs Northland game was also entertaining, especially with Rene and Rupeni taking on Francis Sailli’s team.  Auckland keep just doing enough to win unconvincgingly.  While the Wellington juggernaut left it late against Manawatu and just beat North Harbour earlier in the round.

I am intrigued because I think that Championship teams Tasman, Otago and Hawkes Bay are better than or at least as good as the Premiership teams.  It is funny how Otago beat Bay of Plenty who beat Hawkes Bay who beat Otago.  At this rate Waikato could get relegated, although BOP, Counties and Taranaki are also struggling.

It is hard to tell who will end the season with the Ranfurly Shield, but a part of me wants the Ranfurly Shield to be held by a non major union which actually appreciates it.

In the Super Rugby Tips SuperBru conference Jan is making a charge for Morales at the top of the table.  I had a great week with lots of bonus points for a change!

How did your team and tipping go in ITM Cup Round 3?  Did you get the yellow cap in SuperBru?