Preview: Chiefs v Waratahs - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Preview: Chiefs v Waratahs

Preview: Chiefs v Waratahs


Listen carefully ‘cos I have to speak quietly. I don’t want that bloody Daryl Gibson using my match preview as motivation for the Waratahs again. The nerve of the guy, he’s given no credit to me at all, not even a nod to acknowledge that my words “may have” provided the stinging motivation required for their recent improvement in form, but we know the truth. Like my mate Donald Trump says, this so-called Tah revival is all #fakenews. (Trump isn’t really my mate but mentioning him is good for search rankings on Google, so fair game. At this point I’d like to welcome our American readers to the best Rugby website on the planet.)

 

POTUS Donald Trump is a Waratahs fan

POTUS Donald Trump is a Waratahs fan

Fresh from an excellent win over the Highlanders, the Waratahs travel to the tourist hub of Hamilton in the Waikato on New Zealand’s North Island. The Hamilton locals are frequently derided as living in New Zealand’s most boring city but I can verify that FMG Stadium is a fine venue for watching the exciting brand of Rugby favoured by both the Chiefs and our magnificent Tahs. Weather and available Chiefs personnel permitting, we may well witness an exhibition of exciting, running Rugby.

Why should I bother?

“Y’all hit hard, we hit harder” – Chiefs’ tagline in advertising for this clash.

As my mate Trump would say, “Nobody knows how hard we will hit”. Daryl Gibson will have the tenacious Tahs tighties salivating at the prospect of proving their recent efforts are no flash in the pan and they will certainly need to stand up and make a difference as they face possibly the best forward in the world in Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick. Expect sparks to fly and some blood to flow.

The Tahs have a fair record against the Chiefs in recent years and their opponents have returned from South Africa a bit sore and sorry. Waratahs coach Gibson will be instructing playmakers Foley and Beale to exit quickly and introduce some width when in the right positions on the field. The Chiefs flyhalf McKenzie loves the running game but given the Chiefs’ horrendous injury toll, coach Colin Cooper may instruct him to be a little more circumspect and possibly unleash his long kicking game and play the percentages more than McKenzie might like.

Key match ups

Foley v McKenzie

 

McKenzie looks for support

McKenzie looks for support

Damian McKenzie’s transition to flyhalf has been interesting. He runs less often than he did as a 15 but still makes breaks about once in every eight runs he makes; his ability to slither out of tackles or free his arms to slip a pass to a support terrifies opposing defensive coaches . He kicks more often at 10 than he did as a 15 (understandably) but the vision he has displayed with his risk/reward style of passing has been exciting/terrifying to watch. Contrast his approach with the more conservative and structured approach taken by Bernard Foley who will seek field position first and foremost but is also dangerously deceptive on the occasions he chooses to run.

“Lurch” Retallick v the Tenancious Tahs Tighties

Well, not quite, but there’s no doubt the Chiefs are deep into their roster following a horror run of injuries. I understand there are currently 11 players active now who were not in the Chiefs squad at the start of the season. If ever there was a time for the senior Chiefs to show the way this is it. Retallick will be looking to young Mitch Karpik to fiercely contest the breakdown in the absence of Sam Cane. The Chiefs will be boosted by the news that a number of their squad have been added to the initial All Blacks squad, including young prop Karl Tu’inukuafe, a virtual unknown a few months ago. He will no doubt see his match-up against Sekope Kepu as an opportunity to press his claims to continue in the All Blacks squads.

The game plans

The game plans of both teams will be influenced by the weather, currently predicted to be possibly a bit dodgy. I believe the Chiefs perform at their best in a short passing, close support in depth game but Colin Cooper appears to allow Damian McKenzie free reign to go wide early. This could challenge the Tahs outside defenders, in particular Taqele Naiyaravoro, to make good decisions and to stay connected to the rest of the defensive line.

The Tahs will no doubt send some heavy artillery towards Damian McKenzie but he is a pretty good defender and so are Ngatai and Lienert-Brown so Foley and Beale will need to carefully consider their options. I’d expect some short kicks in behind early.

Prediction

The Waratahs will secure enough primary possession to allow them to dominate field position and will then unleash their in-form backs in a display of controlled yet attacking Rugby. As Prince Harry was reported as saying last week, he and Meghan Markle chose their wedding date deliberately so they could watch the Tahs dismantle the Chiefs this week uninterrupted by the Royal nuptials (this may or may not be an unabashed ploy to boost search rankings).
Tahs by 14

Match Details

Chiefs
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe
2. Nathan Harris
3. Angus Ta’avao
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Michael Allardice
6. Luke Jacobson
7. Mitch Karpik
8. Liam Messam
9. Brad Weber
10. Damian McKenzie
11. Sean Wainui
12. Charlie Ngatai
13. Anton Lienert-Brown
14. Toni Pulu
15. Solomon Alaimalo

Reserves:
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho
17. Sam Prattley
18. Jeff Thwaites
19. Jesse Parete
20. Matt Matich
21. Te Toiroa Tauhuriorangi
22. Marty McKenzie
23. Shaun Stevenson

Waratahs
1. Tom Robertson
2. Damien Fitzpatrick
3. Sekope Kepu
4. Tom Staniforth
5. Rob Simmons
6. Will Miller
7. Michael Hooper (c)
8. Michael Wells
9. Nick Phipps
10. Bernard Foley
11. Taqele Naiyaravoro
12. Kurtley Beale
13. Curtis Rona
14. Cameron Clark
15. Israel Folau

Reserves:
16. Silatolu Latu
17. Harry Johnson-Holmes
18. Paddy Ryan
19. Jed Holloway
20. Brad Wilkin
21. Jake Gordon
22. Lalakai Foketi
23. Bryce Hegarty


Match Details

Date: Saturday, 26 May 2018

Venue: FMG Stadium Hamilton

Kick-off: 19:35 local, 17:35 AEST

Referee: Glen Jackson

Assistant referees:
Angus Mabey, Cam Stone

TMO: Aaron Paterson

  • Hoss

    Love ya work 2blues.

    I wholeheartedly concur. My multi says Tah’s at 13+ and by golly we are a big show.

    A bit of Saffa-itis for the Chiefs, a bit of sleepy legs, weary bodies and an injury list longer than the Dons appendage and the Tah’s are in this past the wrist.

    Now if the Reds & Brumbies can hold up there end i am having 6 months leave.

    Tahs 38 – Chiefs 23.

    • Adrian

      Sports bet has Tahs getting 9.5 start.
      I tipped Tahs to lose last week, and felt guilty straight away, as every indication I use suggested they’d win.

      They should win this one too, despite the bookies.

      I’d say play the same way, including kicks to wingers.

      I don’t know about heavy artillery at McKenzie, because we don’t have much.

      Should be a top game of running Rugby

      • 2bluesfan

        I was thinking they might send Big T his way – I probably would.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          The difference is that unlike Foley McK can tackle and a big guy just hits the ground harder

        • Ed

          McK has made an average 3.8 tackles for every missed one, Foley 2.6 and Beale 2.2. McK is the most wasteful with 2.5 turnovers a game, Foley 1.9 t/o a game, Beale 1.5.

          I was consider the Chiefs having the second best pack of the NZ sides, after the Crusaders. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chiefs take note of the last 50 minutes of how the Saders got themselves back in to the game against the Tahs.

          As Adrian has said, Tahs will be wanting to get it wide ASAP.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Absolutely they will have mate. Cooper is probably one of the best coaches around and he has a really good team helping him.

        • Richard Patterson

          Care to elaborate KRL? What about Cooper impresses you?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Cooper has taken a team with major losses of big stars and then with even more injuries plus managing the mandated rest for ABs and is still up in contention for a final. I think that alone is bloody impressive, but what I really like is how he makes subtle changes to the game plan based on the opposition and, even better, is able to make changes on the fly at half time based on what is happening on the field. To me that makes him a good coach

        • Richard Patterson

          Fair comments as always KRL. Cooper also walked into an environment with excellent structures, culture and self-belief. He needs to demonstrate he can win at this level. His efforts with the Hurricanes and NZ Maori sides have underwhelmed me.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah I think they were both learning phases for him and he got some good mentoring that has helped him

        • Ed

          It looks as though rain will stay away for the match. Hamilton will have had some solid rain in the days before the game? I would guess the turf would be softish underneath, so expect a few scrums to collapse.
          The Chiefs have their best centre combo in Ngatai and ALB for the first time in ages.

        • 2bluesfan

          I think the Tahs will wait until they have good field position before they go wide because the Chiefs are particularly good at capitalising on mistakes. They transition from defence to attack as well as anyone. They could well catch the Tahs still rearranging their defensive positioning.

        • Richard Patterson

          Interesting data Ed.. – thanks for sharing. Where do you source that material?

        • Ed

          No worries Richard.

          ESPN, who use the match data from SANZAAR. Then collate it in Excel.

        • Richard Patterson

          Nice. Thank you.

        • John R

          Foley looked pretty good taking Elliot Dixon down last week.

        • Braveheart81

          This season, depending on the stats source: Foley 97 tackles with 20 misses for 82.9% (Alloutrugby) or 78 made with 21 misses for 78.7% (Foxsports) or McKenzie 49 tackles with 15 misses for 76.5% (Alloutrugby) or 43 made with 15 misses for 74.1% (Foxsports).

          Now I know McKenzie hasn’t played 10 all season which explains having to make a lot less tackles but your post seems to be entirely clouded by not rating Foley rather than any evidence to support your claim.

        • Ed

          Collating the data from each match via ESPN player stats, I have Foley 65 tackles and 25 missed for 72.2%, while McKenzie 42 tackles and 11 missed for 79.2%. McKenzie has played some time at fullback and he sat out the second half against the Reds (unsure).

        • Braveheart81

          Strange. That’s a pretty big variation, particularly to credit with substantially less tackles made with more misses.

        • Ed

          I agree. I would not worry as much about Foley (though would prefer a better defender at 10) but when taken together with Beale – 64 tackles with 29 missed (68.8%), it does become a concern for the Tahs and more so for the Wallabies.
          One thing with Kafer’s “Player of the Future” is to produce backs that don’t need to be hidden on the wing due to their defence.

        • Mica

          He is rather good defensively.
          All comes down to technique.

      • idiot savant

        Miller should be given McKenzie’s number. If McK is quiet and the Tahs play with confidence, it is theirs for the taking.

  • idiot savant

    I fear what the council of chiefs will say when they sit cross legged to watch the Tahs video. “Ah these Waratahs they run like the wind and pass like the ball is on fire” ( I know thats culturally and linguistically insensitive but you started it Blues2 by calling Retallick Lurch). “What devilish plan can we hatch to catch this delicate flower?”, said the Chief. “We could get the Rotorura Ladyboys to lie down in the sulphur springs with them?” suggested one of the Waikato clan. “They will all go straight to hell.” “But thats the afterlife,” said the Chief. “We need victory in the here and now, straight or crooked.” “I know!” said one the faithful, “I have Lyndon Bray’s phone number.” “Straight?”, asked the Chief. “I dont know that you mean,” said the faithful one. “Let it come to pass,” said the Chief.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Very good mate. Compliments my red wine nicely

    • jimmyjam

      With Jackson refereeing (who has over 50 caps as an ex chiefs fly-half and playing at home in Hamilton) SANZAAR are asking for dramas if there are any dodgy decisions in favour of the Chiefs.

      He is dead set the last bloke you would appoint to that game. (Unless of course they are so short of coin they had to appoint the only official who could walk to the ground)……. Seriously if the Tahs get a few howlers from him there’ll be more uproar about bias that no-one needs…..!

      Why would they do it?? There’s plenty of Saffa’s that could do the job and everyone would be happy!

      Just unbelievable.

      • Richard Patterson

        Jackson will not referee a perfect game in the same way no player will play a perfect game. Somehow though people continually expect referee perfection despite disclaimers about an understanding “he won’t get every decision right” or “I know it’s not an easy job but.,,” or the “I’ve never refereed at top level, but I still feel qualified to make comment”.

        People who continually moan about referees are painful.
        People who watch games looking for referee mistakes are more painful.
        People who are silent on contentious calls that favor their team, but howl about any that favour the opposition team are extremely painful.

        Watch the game, enjoy the game. The smarter, more skillful playing side will win this contest. The rest will even itself out.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yep. With you 100%. Using the referee as an excuse just hides the real issue

        • jimmyjam

          I agree, however perception is everything. Pick a neutral ref and problem goes away!

        • Richard Patterson

          Yes indeed. However there are only so many South African referees available and given there are 2 SA inter-conference matches this weekend isn’t it logical those 2 matches are officiated by South Africans? Where do you propose your neutral referees come from? Feels to me there is a glaring need for Australia to contribute more here than just the very capable Angus Gardner. Perhaps then this barrage against Kiwi referees whether Jackson, O’Keaffe, Pickerill, Nutbrown, Fraser or Briant may actually dissipate.

        • Mike Mike

          Gardner, after last nights display surely doesn’t deserve to be labelled capable. Maybe he thought the new head high line (nipples and under) being trailed in under 20 World Cup was in play!

        • Mica

          Jackson’s been a pretty decent ref.
          I am happy to comment on what happens.
          I agree that if you want to complain about the poor calls that go against you, you need to acknowledge the poor calls that go in your favour.
          Referees have different styles and players need to be smart enough to adjust to the style.
          Referees can help this by having clear communications with the teams.
          As long as the calls are consistent then no one should really complain.
          Also there will be fifty fifty calls and no one should complain about these.
          All things being even, just enjoy the rugby – hopefully it will be a cracker and the weather will hold.

  • Richard Patterson

    Not certain I know which team here is under more pressure. The Waratahs will be in a nice head space after last week’s performance but very little about that Waratahs forward pack is threatening and a very understrength Chiefs will identify that as an obvious target.

    The Chiefs are injured, have no momentum and I am not personally sold on head coach Colin Cooper’s ability to plot the Chiefs to sustainable success.

    The team willing to work the hardest up front for 80 minutes wins this. We will see.

    • 2bluesfan

      Perhaps both coaches need this win ….

      • Richard Patterson

        Very good point. I sense Gibson won some much needed credibility post the disappointing Blues loss. We need to see a “consistently good” Waratahs team. A tag they have too often struggled with.

        • Dally M

          And one they got labelled with in 2014 as well…

        • Richard Patterson

          They were consistently good in 2014.

        • Dally M

          Not until round 12.

          Before that they lost to the Brumbies, Sharks, Force & Blues and had not really beaten any strong sides.

          It was the usual inconsistent tag being applied until they went on that run the final 6 weeks.

        • Richard Patterson

          Thanks for sharing Dally M. I did not remember them losing that many games. I assume all were road losses?

          Not certain this 2018 Waratahs side brings the same firepower up front that 2014 side possessed. We’ll see this weekend how important that proves to be.

        • Dally M

          Yep, all away losses.
          They are certainly not a shade on the 2014 team, but if they can peak in terms of consistency like they did in 2014 who knows

        • Richard Patterson

          Indeed. Maybe this whole Super Rugby Conference format is good.

        • Mica

          Yes you are and it doesn’t….. :)

    • Tomthusiasm

      Big call on Cooper, if anything the Chiefs have over-achieved this year despite their horrendous injury toll. I think they’re well set for the next few years. The doubts about Cooper’s coaching ability surely must be past expiration date by now

      • Richard Patterson

        Perhaps they are. Cooper also inherited a very well structured Chiefs set-up created by Dave Rennie. The injuries have been harsh – but a by-product of the intense NZ Conference. Every NZ side deals with them. Cooper needs to prove he can succeed at this level. His feats with the Hurricanes and NZ Maori sides have failed to really impress.

        • Tomthusiasm

          Hang on, Rennie left the Chiefs in good shape, but they also lost the likes of Cruden, Kerr- Barlow, Donald, Michael Leitch, and James Lowe, that’s a lot talent out the door. And admittedly, Cooper’s Canes tenure did not yield a title, four semis and one foggy final, but his Maori AB coaching record was pretty damn good. He only lost one game out of 10, to the Lions last year. Also, he guided my beloved Taranaki to an NPC title and two Ranfurly Shields. I agree the proof will be whether or not he can produce a super rugby title, which remains to be seen, but there’s not a lot between the top four NZ sides.

  • mikado

    Tahs to win by 7 – Chiefs are injured and kanckered.

    Just thought I’d mention that Kim Kardashian, BREXIT, Kanye West, KIm Jong Un, #crookedhillary and minecraft have absolutely nothing to do with this match.

    • 2bluesfan

      :)

    • Missing Link

      #MeToo

  • IIPA

    This is fundamentalist v modern day humanist. A battle of the ages. Izzy Folau v the rainbow lace wearing, quote “I’m disgusted to have to share a field with him” Brad Weber.

    Weber might’ve got a points victory on Twitter but Izzy will give his ass a pounding ( figuratively only of course ) where it matters most.

  • John R

    Let’s go Tahs.

    Keep the Aus v NZ streak going!

  • Mica

    And Cane is a HUGE loss.
    Probably the best ball carrying 7 going around and can still be a menace at defensive and attacking rucks.

  • Hoss

    Turn it up comrade.

    The beauty of the Tah’s playing Sat arvo AEST is it gives you plenty of time to work on your apology.

    I’ll help start you off.

    Dear Hoss,

    I am so sorry ……………………………………..
    …………………………………………………………
    …………………………………………………………
    Please forgive me, I will never do it again.

    In the words of the great one ……’that boy even dreams he can beat me he better wake up and apologise !’

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hahahaha gold mate

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