itm cupThe ITM Cup Round 5 is here with Taranaki hosting Hawkes Bay in atrocious conditions in New Plymouth tonight before challenging Counties Manukau for the Ranfurly Shield at the weekend. Could this be a case of deja vu from the week before when Counties lost their Wednesday night game before going on to win the Ranfurly Shield in their second game of the round? The Ranfurly Shield is going around some of the more provincial teams like a hot potato, but it is exciting and getting plenty of bums on seats which is something that the NZRU will have to think about going forward.

The weather will have a major impact on matches this weekend with strong winds and rain driving up the country. These will affect your half time/ full time picks and could reduce some margins, making it imperative to check the weather forecast. It is also difficult to know if teams playing two games in the one round are disadvantaged or not? This hasn’t affected teams as much as I thought it would. It seems, players love playing more than training!

I hope I haven’t put the mockers on anyone, but ITM Cup Round 5 has only three matches which a tough to pick. The toughest games to pick include Taranaki’s two matches against Hawke’s Bay and the Ranfurly Shield challenge against Counties Manukau and the Turbos versus Stags. These games will offer some value for punters at the tote.

Taranaki are a difficult side to get a gauge on given that they have lost three out of four games, although they have played against the big guns in Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland. They will have more of a chance against Hawke’s Bay and will be fired up for their Ranfurly Shield challenge against Counties Manukau. It is crazy having a new team winning the Ranfurly Shield weekly, it could be good if it stays in Counties, assuming they then don’t lose it to one of the big teams.

The Turbos and the Stags game will be one for the die hards only. Both teams got their first wins last week and they both need to bank the points if they are to make the semi-finals. Both teams will have targeted this game at the start of the season. The Stags have more well known names, but the Turbos have been more likely on attack.

All the other games feature at least one team which is significantly stronger than their opposition and in the case of Wellington vs BOP, Canterbury vs Otago, North Harbour vs Tasman and Hawke’s Bay vs Northland the margins should be large. It is always difficult to know how big to go, but I think these will all be margins over 13 points.

Morales leads the Super Rugby Tips SuperBru conference by over two points. Time is running out with this round being the halfway mark of the competition for some teams.

Super Rugby Tips picks for ITM Cup Round 5 – do you agree? Can Taranaki lift the Ranfurly Shield? Who are you picking in ITM Cup Round 5?
Game Date and time Your pick
[32] Taranaki v Hawke’s Bay 11 Sep 19:35 (local)
11 Sep 19:35 (your time*) Hawke’s Bay by 3
[33] Wellington v Bay of Plenty 12 Sep 19:35 (local)
12 Sep 19:35 (your time*) Wellington by 28
[34] Manawatu v Southland 13 Sep 18:05 (local)
13 Sep 18:05 (your time*) Southland by 3
[35] North Harbour v Tasman 13 Sep 20:05 (local)
13 Sep 20:05 (your time*) Tasman by 21
[36] Waikato v Auckland 14 Sep 14:35 (local)
14 Sep 14:35 (your time*) Auckland by 21
[37] Canterbury v Otago 14 Sep 16:35 (local)
14 Sep 16:35 (your time*) Canterbury by 28
[38] Counties Manukau v Taranaki 15 Sep 14:35 (local)
15 Sep 14:35 (your time*) Counties Manukau by 3
[39] Hawke’s Bay v Northland 15 Sep 16:35 (local)
15 Sep 16:35 (your time*) Hawke’s Bay by 18 points