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

Match Preview: Waratahs vs Crusaders

Match Preview: Waratahs vs Crusaders

The Crusaders travel to Sydney for their first match since the Mosque massacre in Christchurch which took the lives of 50 innocent people, the men in Red and Black will attempt to bring some temporary joy to their city by notching their 20th straight win and extend their lead at the top of the Super Rugby ladder. The Waratahs were left licking their wounds following their disappointing loss to the Brumbies last week, but back at the temporary home of the SCG and against the best in the business Daryl Gibson will know there will be no bigger opportunity to turn their 2019 form around and prove the doubters wrong.


Despite sitting at 2 wins – 2 losses the Waratahs have been disappointing in 2019. Their two wins include a very fortunate 1-point win over the Sunwolves and a 9-point win over the Queensland Reds in a game where they held just 32% of possession. Last week they were deservedly beaten by a Brumbies side who looked hungrier in the nation’s capital. Despite all the big names their backlines attack has looked clunky and unless the forwards start getting over the advantage line more regularly the opportunities will remain limited.

While the Waratahs attack has looked average this season, the Crusaders looked anything but in their last in which they scored 58 points against the Chiefs. Despite sharing the points last weekend with the Highlanders, they remain 4 points clear on the top of the Super Rugby ladder and will be looking to keep their current record undefeated streak alive by reaching 20 on the trot.  The corresponding fixture last year was an instant classic with the Waratahs racing out to a 29-point lead after just 28 minutes in Christchurch before the Crusaders gradually clawed them back and a penalty try in the 69th minute saw them take the match winning lead, with the game finishing 31 – 29.

Key Match-ups


It’s Simmo time!

Sam Whitelock vs Rob Simmons

For all the talk about the two flashy backlines, this game will inevitably be won up front. The Crusaders possess perhaps the bets tight 5 in the competition and the return of All Black Sam Whitlock only strengthens their engine room. Rob Simmons has been patchy in 2019, he followed up his huge performance against the Reds with a disappointing display in Canberra last weekend. With a number of locks putting their hands up across the 4 Aussie Super Rugby sides Simmons will need to lift his game If he wants to wear a gold jersey this year.

Jack Goodhue vs Adam Ashley-Cooper 

It’s a case of old vs new out wide at the SCG come Saturday night, with the vastly experienced Adam Ashley-Cooper facing off against youngster Jack Goodhue. bursting onto the scene in 2017 the 23-year-old Goodhue has been a revelation outside Ryan Crotty for the Crusaders and his form saw him catapulted into the All Blacks starting 13 jersey throughout 2018. He remains the front runner to start there  come the world cup, but with an abundance of centre options at Steve Hansens disposal there isn’t much room for error for the 98kg blondie. It’s a very different situation for Adam Ashley-Cooper, who has returned home to Sydney in 2019 in an attempt to play in his 4th Rugby World Cup. His return has been solid, yet unspectacular so far and if he is serious about boarding flight QF25 to Tokyo he really needs to find that line-busting form that helped lead NSW to the 2014 championship and made him one of the most feared centres in World Rugby.


Just the 2 reactionary changes from Daryl Gibson who has opted for the experience of Nick Phipps at halfback as well as the explosiveness of Cam Clark on the wing. Jake Gordan drops back to the Waratahs bench which also includes 2018 forward of the year Micheal Wells who has been welcomed back this week from 7s duties. Karmicheal Hunt has passed a fitness test and will also make his way back into the side via the bench. It’s a big night for West Harbour hooker Andrew Tuala who is set to make his debut from the bench following the immediate return of Tatafu Polata-Nau to Leicster midweek.

The Crusaders have made just the two changes as well for Saturday nights encounter, with Richie Mo’unga and Scott Barrett getting a well-deserved rest. They will be replaced by Brett Cameron. and Quinten Strange respectively.


Phipps is back!

WARATAHS: Israel Folau, Cam Clark, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Alex Newsome, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper (c), Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons, Jed Holloway, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Harry Johnson-Holmes

Reserves: Andrew Tuala, Rory O’Connor, Chris Talakai, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Wells, Jake Gordon, Mack Mason, Karmichael Hunt

CRUSADERS: David Havili, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Brett Cameron, Bryn Hall, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (c), Quinten Strange, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, George Bower

Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Harry Allan, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Tom Sanders, Ere Enari, Mitchell Hunt, Will Jordan

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SA)


There have been some absolute cracker matches between these two rivals over the years, and hopefully Saturday night is another one to savour. I am expecting a vast improvement from the Waratahs but ultimately an in-form and emotionally charged Crusaders team should prove too much for the New South Welshmen on Saturday night.

Crusaders by 6

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Oliver, while I think a big challenge for the Crusaders will be the mental challenge of turning it on after the emotional roller coaster of the last week I think you are being overly generous to the Tahs giving them only a 6 point loss. I think that the Crusaders will be too strong in too many areas and I’m picking a win by more than 13

    • Brisneyland Local

      I agree. I am sticking with Crusaders by at least 15 points. Once the defence opens up, the Dark Saders will start slamming down tries, like I slamm down drinks at a free bar event!

    • Hoss

      Welcome to life as a Tah’s fan, lose against shite, rise against the odds with no form or a hint of any performance marker leading in – you know its gotta be Tah’s by 9.

      • Keith Butler

        2018 rinse and repeat. Tahs by 20 at the break and then lose. No Joe Moody though so I could be wrong. But Jaco Peyper is the ref so anyone’s game.

        • Hoss

          By 29 mind you. If i was Moody i would give it a miss as well, that vicious attack on his elbow by Gilbert leading with his throat was sickening.

        • Keith Butler

          For such a heinous crime I would have suspended Gilbert for the rest of the season – by his gonads.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I would just suspend Gilbert for being Gilbert!

        • Adrian

          No Naiyaravoro

        • Hoss

          Et tu Brutus ?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Tah’s by 9 at half time. Saders by 29 at full time! ;-)

        • Hoss

          I quote Vinnie Jones, from Lock Stock & two smoking barrels – ‘i put that down to shock. Only once can i, shall i let you get away wiv it’

        • Brisneyland Local

          To quote Turkish:
          “Your Tah’s are proper fucked!”

        • Keith Butler

          Now there was a funny movie, in a violent sort of way. Love the bit where Vinnie slams the car door on the blokes head several time -all done in the best possible taste.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Maaaaaate your dreaming

        • Hoss

          It’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to.

      • I admire your confidence. Having picked the ‘Tahs last week against a worse side, I’m not going back to that well.

        I think what the rugby teams in NZ did last week, huddling up, players mixed together for their minutes silence was part of how much they’re part of the community. While I’m sure those who have lost family members won’t care about the match, I think the larger community will rally behind the ‘Saders, and the players will have had that support and feel it. They can’t go out and guard a mosque or similar but they can, as they do on so many weeks, go out and represent the vast majority of Canterbury, and do that by putting a class performance together.

        Against a relatively weak pack and a back line that should really be called a sideways line… it could be more like England v Scotland in the Women’s 6N.

        • Hoss

          Eloquent as usual EP. Also exactly why they will win. Being a Tah’s fan is like belonging to an S&M club (that’s what Briz tells me anyway). It’s a perverse punishment that yields little joy but your hooked. Tah’s are specials for no reason other than they are so poor to pick they are bound to win.

        • There speaks a true fan… I hope the wine dulls the pain suitably. Although if you ever go to an S&M club they won’t let you play if you drink, or so I’ve heard.

        • Adrian

          I heard that too …. from a friend

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah right

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          “So you’ve heard” Hmmmmmm

      • Huw Tindall

        Tahs by 8. Well done Mr Hoss.

    • Custard Taht

      I think 13+ is generous to the tahs. This result will not be close, the Tahs are going to receive a old fashion spanking. Crusaders will get to 50 and the Tahs will be in the teens.

  • Duncher

    Did I miss something, where’s Ritchie Mounga???

    • Duncher

      Scrap that… Friday lunch time beers got the better of me…

      • Hoss

        You hiring ?

        • Duncher

          Depends, does your dad own a brewery per chance?

        • Hoss

          only via an informal arrangement

        • Duncher

          Good enough for me, welcome aboard Hoss!

        • Hoss

          You beauty – is there a hazing ritual of some sort. I am catholic so my tolerance is high…….

        • Duncher

          I’m sorry about that and yes there is, I’ll see you at the pub shortly for your induction ;)

  • Cameron Rivett

    I’m not sure if I can watch this one. I’m still seething about the referee handing the Crusaders the entire last 50 minutes including overlooking blatant red card offences to give them the victory after the Waratahs were up by 30 points in the first 30 minutes last year.

    • Hoss

      I still crawl into the fecal position thinking about it and no, that wasn’t a typo.

    • Mart

      It was pretty tough to stomach. Waratahs cop a lot of shit But they can win those games

    • From NooZealand

      Agree and I am Crusaders fellow.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        These things happen. Look at the final penalty in the 2014 final.

        I honestly believe that, with the possible exception of home town referees in the Republic, these things tend to even themselves out over time.

  • RF

    Expecting a Crusaders to show a lot of heart and the Waratahs to crumble. Comfortable win, 20+

  • Brumby Runner

    I am one of the doubters Oliver, but I don’t believe I will have to change my mind after this game.

    If Simmons v Whitelock and AAC v Goodhue are the matchups to watch, then I really do fear for the Tahs.

    • Adrian

      Horror stories

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Crusaders by 6? Brave prediction! I think the Waratahs are going to get absolutely fucked.

    • Hoss

      I am sensing a dark under-tone with your recent posts Sherbert – I am pretty intuitive like that.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies


    • laurence king

      My eyesight’s not so good, is that a question mark, or a 2?

  • OnTheBurst

    Sam Whitelock vs Rob Simmons? Oh you are cruel…

  • Adrian

    Bookies say Canterbury by 10, but I say by a bit more than that.

    I think Tahs will play fairly well, but it is obvious to me that their main tactic relies on Foley and Beale commingled good, and Phipps driving the forwards like there is no tomorrow.

    It could work, but will be much harder than last year without Naiyaravoro. Folau will have lots to do in attack as will the new wingers. There will be balls to jump for if Foley can be accurate. Lots of running for the forwards.

    Second half will be about more defence and just hanging on.

    The Crusaders are a TEAM if ever there was one. They have stars too…and the match-ups listed look like a horror story.

    I expect a great match though

  • Patrick

    I have to join the chorus here, Tahs to lose by 20+.

    It’ll be a free for all massacre from 60 minutes on.

  • Huw Tindall

    Last year the Tahs would give up a 30 point lead as their defence was shite. This year defence is OK. Unfortunately can’t score any points. So worse result. Lose by 15 instead and 3.

  • Huw Tindall

    Well well well. Who’d have thought. Only Hoss. Now just watch the Tahs banana skin next week in Hoss’s backyard as they rest all their Wallabies. I don’t even care that my tips are in tatters this week.

    Great game though! Tahs defence, set piece, positional kicking, and bench impact went a long way to winning that game. In no world did I see myself saying those things this year.

    Everyone’s favourite punching bag Ned had a good game. Starting to show the promise he has had for a while now. Holloway some great involvements too with his try and held up maul. Even Gilbert looked good with some great runs, clearance kicks, and making a nuisance with his defensive reads.

    For the Crusaders their defence kept them in it. Tahs had so much time in their 22 and attacking lineouts they could have won by more! Probably a bit too tricky and the only rolling maul they did play was from halfway which marched them into the 22 for a penalty advantage then the cross field bomb for Izzy’s try.

    In saying all this the Crusaders are a different beast without Mounga at 10 and Read hasn’t even put his boots on yet this season! I’d add Owen Franks as a crucial element to their piece as well, out today with a niggle. Layer in the missed game last week and the terrible events in Christchurch maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised that the Tahs pulled this one off.

    Bloody topsy turvey season though. This Tahs side would have rolled the Brums last week. It is a long season and maybe they are building some momentum and combos.

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