Match Preview: NSW Waratahs vs Sharks - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Match Preview: NSW Waratahs vs Sharks

Match Preview: NSW Waratahs vs Sharks

The Waratahs will run out for the second ever professional game at the brand new BankWest stadium at Parramatta as they face the Sharks in the first match of their Australasian tour.

The Form

The Tahs bounced back after a couple of disappointing losses to defeat the Rebels at the SCG last week. It was a scrappy encounter, but NSW did just enough to claw back a 17-point halftime deficit and effectively keep their hopes of topping the Aussie conference alive. They remain 4 points behind the Rebels, but with the men from Melbourne having the bye this week a bonus point win would see the Tahs end the weekend on top of the Aussie conference. They will know there is no room for error with wins to both the Reds and the Brumbies in South Africa last weekend seeing both sides breathing down their neck, sitting 1 and 2 points adrift respectively.

The Sharks were left rueing missed opportunities against the Reds at Kings Park last Friday. They were perhaps guilty of taking their Queensland opposition lightly and turned down four penalty goal opportunities in the first half instead backing their lineout and rolling maul. They ultimately went down 21-14 and slipped to 3rd in the African conference, with matches against the Crusaders and the Chiefs in NZ to follow they will be desperate to get their tour off to a winning start in the Harbour city.

The Teams

The big news out of the Waratahs camp is the return of Tolu Latu from his six-game suspension. Coach Daryl Gibson and forward Jed Holloway spoke to the media midweek stating Latu had been training the house down during his time off with Gibson going as far to say it was the fittest Latu has been in over three years. The extra physicality Latu brings will be a welcome boost for a Waratahs forward pack that continues to prove doubters wrong in 2019 but whether Latu has addressed his disciplinary issues remains to be seen. The only other change sees Curtis Rona named on the left wing, with the impressive Alex Newsome dropping back to the bench.

Karmichael Hunt, Bernard Foley Alex Newsome chat Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

It would have been an interesting couple of days in the Du Preez household with Sharks coach Robert Du Preez dropping one of his sons (also called Robert) from the starting XV with Curwin Bosch preferred at flyhalf. He did however promote another son Jean Luc De Preez for his first start of the season at number 7 joining his twin brother, Daniel Du Preez in a sizable back row.  The other significant change is this the return of Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira who will captain the side from the front row, while elusive Springbok Winger Makozle Mapimpi returns outside Lukanyo Am.

Key Matchups

Jean Luc Du Preez vs Micheal Hooper

Despite averaging more than five tackles more than anyone else in 2019, Micheal Hooper’s form for the Waratahs seems to have flown under the radar somewhat. He has been outstanding for the Waratahs and appears to be playing a lot tighter than in previous seasons. Jean -Luc Du Preez starts his first game of the season after recovering from a groin injury he suffered playing for the Sale Sharks in January. Coach/Dad Robert Du Preez has welcomed back with open arms with his physicality and line-out ability sorely missed by the Sharks this season.

Tendai Mtawarira vs Sekope Kepu

Two veterans meet up front, with Sekope Kepu and The Beast boasting over 250 Super Rugby caps between them. After an error riddled start to the year, Kepu has been solid the last couple of weeks with the Tahs front row holding their own at scrum time. With Harry Johnson Holmes impressing in his first year as a starter and Wallaby Tom Roberston due back in two weeks’ time, expect Kepu to get a number of rest weeks leading into finals and the international season. After being given last week off Mtawarira will be keen to continue his 2019 form in his bid to return to the World Cup in September.

Kepu gets the fend going.

Kepu gets the fend going.

The Teams

WARATAHS (15-1): Kurtley Beale, Cam Clark, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Karmichael Hunt, Curtis Rona, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (c), Jack Dempsey, Rob Simmons, Jed Holloway, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Harry Johnson-Holmes

Reserves: Tolu Latu, Rory O’Connor, Chris Talakai, Tom Staniforth, Lachlan Swinton, Nick Phipps, Lalakai Foketi, Alex Newsome

SHARKS (15-1): Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Cameron Wright, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Philip van der Walt, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Thomas du Toit, Kerron van Vuuren, Tendai Mtawarira (c)

Reserves: Akker van der Merwe, Mazamo Majola, Coenie Oosthuizen, Ruan Botha, Jacques Vermeulen, Louis Schreuder, Robert du Preez, Marius Louw


With a big crowd expected to roll into the Waratahs new temporary home at Bankwest stadium anticipate the New South Welshmen to come out firing in their last home game before heading to Africa. After the lacklustre display the Sharks dished up against the Reds a home last week I suspect the Waratahs will have too much firepower and experience for the Sharks to handle in Parramatta.

Waratahs by 10…

  • idiot savant

    Hard not to agree with that assessment Oliver. The Sharks passing was woeful last week. A repeat of that will lead to them bleeding more points than last week. Looking forward to seeing if Bosch can add some zip to the Sharks backline. The Reds pack is a bit more physical than the Tahs so the Sharks might look to gain some ascendency there with pick and gos and inside balls. The Tahs have had a topsy turvy season but this is about the point in the season when they wake up so I expect more pain for the Shorks.

    • Hoss

      Love it when your right IS – especially about the mid-season awakening of the holy ones.

      Look for a crisp, assured Tah’s performance tonite and on a cracker of a pitch and win by 12ish. Looking forward to decent crowd and some atmosphere.

      • Keith Butler

        Damn Hoss I never though i’d say it but through gritted teeth, the Devils in Blue should comfortably take this one.

        • Hoss

          I knew you would turn – Newcastle has that effect.

        • Keith Butler

          The Dark Side got me.

        • Hoss

          Recorded it and watched it in fast forward. They have to be worst in Oz don’t they ? The Reds don’t have the talent but always try, I doubt the Tah’s have the foggiest idea of how they want to play. When they had the best aerial player in the world at their disposal they never kicked it and now he’s (currently) unavail they kick the living shit out of it – usually into the middle of no mans land !! Marto was right they just aren’t good enough – and by some way.

        • Keith Butler

          BL must be the exception but Holloway proves the rule – locks generally do not have 2 brain cells to rub together. And Hoops provided the comment of the night for me “ but ref it wasn’t intentional”.


    I’m thinking Bosch will be the difference with the coaches twin boys stepping up big time. Can’t wait to see the Kep/ Beast battle?

    • Brumby Runner

      I think tonight’s game has confirmed both the Beast and Kepu are well past their best, and on the slide towards retirement.

  • Crescent

    In such a topsy turvy competition – the Tahs had better turn up and perform tonight. Caught the Sharks vs Bulls match at Kings Park on holidays – the poor handling and butchered tries we saw vs Qld was evident there. Dropping R du Preeze should be a good move. If you thought Foley’s kicking game was shit – du Preeze had a real “hold my beer” game.

    Heading to Bankwest to catch the Two Blues in the curtain raiser – hoping to see some good play from the Tahs….

  • Adrian

    Tahs should win,… but this sort of game they sometimes don’t.

    Still, I’ll go with them, and see if we can see them really put the foot down.

    Beale and Rona did a few moves last year, albeit when they were the centre pairing, so hopefully they’ll remember what they did, and do it again.

    I always have a great sense of expectation when Latu plays, because I don’t know how he’ll play. I hope he has a cracker when he gets on

    • Andy

      Agree Adrian. When he’s on, he is a game changer with his talent. But I’m not convinced his potential is going to be complimented with the most important component of an international standard player – a brain.

  • Ben Fox

    Be handy when you do these reviews to list the officials as well

NSW Waratahs

A Bush League Opinionist

More in NSW Waratahs