Match Preview: Waratahs v Sunwolves - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Match Preview: Waratahs v Sunwolves

Match Preview: Waratahs v Sunwolves

For the first time ever the NSW Waratahs will play a home Super Rugby game away from Sydney when they travel north to face the Sunwolves in Newcastle.

The Form

Fresh off ending the longest win streak in Super Rugby history last week and sitting pretty at the top of the Australian conference, confidence around the NSW base at Daceyville is through the roof. The Waratah’s defense which they have dubbed ‘The Blue Wall’ strangled the previously unbeaten Crusaders at the SCG forcing them into a very uncharacteristic error ridden performance. A lot of praise has been heaped on new Welsh defence coach Steve Tandy midweek after allowing the Crusaders just 12 points, which included a try off a blatant forward pass and another after the full time siren.

Just over 24 hours after hearing their Super Rugby journey would all come to an end in 2021 the Sunwolves marched out in Singapore to face the might of the Lions. Despite leading 7-0 they eventually succumbed to a 3rd successive loss going down 37-24, thereby slipping to last on the overall Super Rugby ladder. The historic win over the Chiefs in Hamilton seems a long time ago for the embattled franchise. Having said that a last ditch Karmicheal Hunt charge down attempt was the difference between these sides when they met in round 2 so don’t expect all one-way traffic on a warm evening in the Hunter.

Key Match Ups

Micheal Wells vs Rahbboni Warren-Vosayaco

After 32 minutes off the bench last week and with former classmate Jack Dempsey resting due to Wallabies commitments, Micheal Wells has been rushed back into the starting side to face the men from Tokyo. The hard-hitting number 8 will be desperate to prove he hasn’t lost any physicality upon returning from his stint with the Aussie sevens side. His opposite number is fellow Aussie Rahboni Warren – Vosayaco who was in devastating form last week scoring 2 tries and making 9 tackles. It was the sort of hard running display that would have had Micheal Cheika and his two squires sit up and take notice. Whispers are also circling that Japan coach Jamie Joseph is very interested in the 23 year old former Australian schoolboy, and with his eligibility for Japan coming through mid

Mack Mason.

Mack Mason playing in Newcastle like his old schoolmate Kayln Ponga

Mack Mason vs Hayden Parker

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has also opted to give Bernard Foley his mandatory rest week thereby handing Mack Mason his 2nd ever Waratahs start, almost 2 years to the day he last ran out in the sky-blue number 10 shirt. He will be eager to improve that a couple of seasons in the Shute shield have enhanced his game and he is ready to step up when Foley inevitably moves on next season. On the other side of the field New Zealand born Hayden Parker has been in fine form throughout 2019 and will be eager to make amends for his missed drop kick in round 2.

Teams

Just four personnel changes to the Waratahs side that knocked the Crusaders off their perch last weekend with three of those occurring due to Wallaby rest allocations. The aforementioned Mack Mason and Micheal Wells will start in place of Bernard Foley and Jack Dempsey. Elsewhere Karmicheal Hunt returns at outside centre in place of Adam Ashley-Cooper while the aggressive Lachlan Swinton will join Wells and captain Hooper in a new-look back row. This sees Ned Hanigan shifting into the 2nd row in place of Jed Holloway who is out with a rib injury. Israel Folau’s 112kg younger brother John, is set for his debut after being named as a late inclusion on the bench.

The big news out of the Japanese camp is that disgraced number 8 Amanaki Mafi will not make the trip down under after a visa issue prevented him from entering the country. In other team news Hendrik Tui returns at blindside flanker, while bruising lock Uwe Helu has been promoted to start.

WARATAHS (15-1): Israel Folau, Cam Clark, Karmichael Hunt, Kurtley Beale, Alex Newsome, Mack Mason, Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (c), Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons, Ned Hanigan, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Harry Johnson-Holmes

Reserves: Andrew Tuala, Rory O’Connor, Chris Talakai, Ryan McCauley, Tom Staniforth, Jake Gordon, Lalakai Foketi, John Folau

SUNWOLVES (15-1): Ryohei Yamanaka, Gerhard van den Heever, Jason Emery, Harumichi Tatakawa, Semisi Masirewa, Hayden Parker, Kaito Shigeno, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Dan Pryor (c), Hendrik Tui, Uwe Helu, Grant Hattingh, Jiwon Koo, Jaba Bregvadze, Pauliasi Manu

Reserves: Nathan Vella, Masataka Mikami, Takuma Asahara, Mark Abbott, Kara Pryor, Fumiaki Tanaka, Takuya Yamasawa, Josh Timu

Prediction

With only four points separating all Aussies sides on the conference ladder, Daryl Gibson will know his men can’t afford to drop any points against the Sunwolves. Despite resting key players and not to mention the almighty scare the Sunwolves provided in round 2 the Waratahs will be confident of a comfortable win in front of a big crowd of Novacastrians. They won’t have it all their own way and the Sunwolves are certainly capable of pulling off a shock win, but ultimately the understrength Tahs should get the better of this one.

Waratahs by 12.

  • Cameron Rivett

    Will be leaving the house to attend this one. Hayden Parker is just as unlucky not to have a NZ Super Rugby contract as Mack Mason is to not have had more than 20 minutes of game time in almost 2.5 years.

    By the way, it’s generally spelled “Novocastrian” though I don’t know if there is a hard and fast rule for it.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Yes but for some reason most of my kiwi mates think he’s garbage. Their words not mine. I think he’s a very fine set piece playmaker….and he’s proving that this year with a much more impactful and talented backrow and backline around him!
      Mack Mason however is just the unluckiest 10 of the last 5years or so in Aus rugby. Hope he at least gets a solid chance to show if he’s legit at this level or not!

      • Huw Tindall

        It’s the unfortunate thing about #10. Probably the least subbed position in rugby! If you are a forward you are practically guaranteed regular minutes off the bench. Not so the #10s. A lot of benches don’t even have a #10 in the 2/3 backs there. Usually a utility, outside back and #9.

  • Jason

    I’m tipping the Moon Doggies for this one, ‘Tahs have been playing poorly, and haven’t earned the right to rest key players yet and as the Blues were shown and the nearly the Waratahs a few weeks ago, if you sleep on the Sunwolves they can make you pay.

    • laurence king

      I don’t know if dropping Foley is a bad thing for the Tahs. Does Mason tend to pass flatter than Foley’s 45 degrees? Foley had his best game of the year and looked sharp and the kick was good but that shuffling sideways and backwards is not good

      • Brisneyland Local

        I agree on dropping Foley, but starting the Bovine sprinkler ahead of Gordon is stupid. He is still spraying it like a Blunderbuss!

        • laurence king

          Lol, I haven’t heard ‘blunderbuss’ for years, but whats an errant pass or two or ….. between friends? Still, he has a way of driving the forwards that even Genia could take note of and I rather like that.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Love his drive, his fitness and his enthusiasm. Just his errant passing is terrible.

        • laurence king

          Cheika has defensive coach Grey to protect certain players from having to tackle, maybe the Tahs could have a passing coach to protect players from having to pass. I know, I know… I’m a visionary.

        • Brisneyland Local

          LK, that is hilarious.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          That’s gold mate

        • Brisneyland Local

          You must be of a similar vintage. Most of the youngies wouldnt be old enough to know what a blunderbuss is!

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I’m with you.. .. I love his enthusiasm and spirit but those strengths tend to shine for him in tighter narrower games where the game is a forwards orientated one…..

        • Tah Tragic

          I’m not so sure about Gordon this year. He hasn’t had the same impact as he had last year. I thought Phipps had a good 40 mins last week against the Crusaders (one shocking pass being the exception). Too early to judge who is better based on 40 mins of rugby but I’m keen to see a bit more of him.
          On a side note when are we going to see the young SA in the second row? Lots of talk about him pre-season but we have not seen him yet.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I am sure this weekend will be telling for all of the above.

  • GO THE Q REDS

    Keen on your noted match-up between Wells and Voyasco warren!
    Also good to see rugby smart speedster Cam Clark get the nod again.
    Can’t wait to see Mack Mason aswell, hoping his one off will be enough time to impress….
    John Folou is another player I’d like see(not at the expense of others, simply too see what he plays like at this level)
    Tahs by 12

  • Keith Butler

    Hoss will be brimming with confidence, and ale, but this could be a banana skin for the mighty Tahs.

  • Huw Tindall

    Really keen to see what Mason has to offer. Looked very handy in the trial matches this year. Hopefully his pack get’s him quality ball so he can show his wares.

    Tactically I’d like to see the Tahs play conservative rugby with forward work in tight and kicking for territory. If their ‘Blue Wall’ is to be a thing they can let the Sunwolves chuck the ball around all day counter punch. Go for the 4 points for a win. A bonus point for 3+ tries in front is just that. A bonus!

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Remember his last game? Mason put Clarke and then Naiyavoro into a magic try down the sideline!

      • laurence king

        What’s his passing game like mate and does he play a proper 10s game because this is where Foley’s game falls down.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          He’s actually very regimented like Foley but has a better pass 100%… . He’s actually his idol funnily enough!

        • laurence king

          Thankyou, well they may do better with Mason than Foley, now that would make things interesting at the selection table

  • Adrian

    Yes, Tahs, but defence must hold

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Nice write up Oliver although I think the Crusaders win is being taken to mean more than it actually was with their minds obviously still on the week before. Still a good win but not a turning of the wheel.

    I actually think the timing of the announcement about the end of the Sun Wolves is going to be the key here. Will it galvanise them to prove that SANZAAR are wrong, or will it be a “Fu*k this” and no one give a shit and not compete? It could go either way and will either make the Tahs work easier or really challenge them. I think if the coaches fire the team up to demonstrate that this is a mistake then they could well give the Tahs a spanking. Probably more likely a win to the Tahs though.

  • Keith Butler

    Just got back from the game Hoss is not a happy possum. The Tahs were abysmal and i’m sure his suitably worded match report will reflect that.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Hey KB I just arrived back in Bris. Was watching the game. Man the Tahs sucked the big one!

      • Keith Butler

        Hoss was not a happy camper, the Tahs were dross. Hoss will explain his nickname for Mason. In the meantime we have a new term for touch kicks of 10 to 15 metres. From now on they will be known as ‘Foleys’. Mrs B and I had a great evening howling for the Wolves to be followed tomorrow by a tour of a Hunter Valleys finest wineries.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Enjoy, am so jealous. We will have to organise another one.

        • Keith Butler

          Roger that. Will have to pool our collective brains, or what’s left of them, to find a suitable game and venue.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I will look at the schedule tonight.

        • Keith Butler

          Hoss in a better frame of mind today after a couple of sour mash whiskeys. To avoid any hint of SR tribalism I suggested one of the G&G warm up games maybe Argentina or Samoa.

        • Brisneyland Local

          That might be worth while.

        • Keith Butler

          Would be great if it comes off. Already checked flights in anticipation and Mrs B has given permission for me to travel on my own if it turns out to be boys only.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Can be wives too. Mrs BL would be pissed not to go and see the Wobs versus the Argies!

        • Keith Butler

          Mrs B will be pleased.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I am sure that Mrs B, Mrs BL, and Mrs Hoss will have fun laughing at us. I know if KRL is still in Australia he will come.

        • Brisneyland Local

          27 July. Wallabies vs Second place winners in the falklands War (Argentina).
          I think that could be an option. I can organise a dinner, mybe even a bit of wine bar gathering!

        • Keith Butler

          Sounds like a plan. To be continued.

        • Brisneyland Local

          damn straight.
          I will come up with a plan.

NSW Waratahs

A seagulling, ball playing backrower. Famous for scoring more tries in a season than successful tackles made as well as a better goalkicking percentage than tackle efficiency

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