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

Preview: Crusaders v Waratahs

Preview: Crusaders v Waratahs

To despair, or to not despair?
That is the question

Are there any casual Waratahs fans left? You, you at the back, is your hand up or down? Right, well that makes two of you. But never mind, the true faithful will be watching come Saturday night with a morbid interest in just how long the Tahs can resist the might of the Crusaders. Yes, the true faithful, us few thousand, will settle into our favourite armchairs and mutter “this time, Tahs, this time” as referee Ben O’Keeffe blows his acme thunderer to start the carnage.

The Crusaders have quaked at the prospect of playing the Waratahs 24 times (memo to self: check the definition of quaked) and, somehow, just somehow, have managed to escape with a victory on 18 occasions. Can you believe this? Just goes to prove that there are lies, damned lies and statistics. I think this may form the basis of Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson pre-match psych-up. I can almost hear him now “right boys, just remember – no one predicted that the Blues could beat us last week, am I right?”


Tahs Coach Daryl Gibson

Tahs Coach Daryl Gibson urges the boys to follow him


Why should I bother?

I can’t believe you would ask me that. Are you serious? Man, this is the match all coaches dream of, the match where we “damn well redeem ourselves”. I can smell the redemption from here and I can tell you, man it smells good. Some fools dream of money, fast cars and beautiful women but this fool dreams of beating the Crusaders. And I’m telling you, come Saturday night those Crusader supporters will be wishing they hadn’t ventured out into the cold Autumn night in Addington. Yes, okay, okay, the Speights Ale House just up the road has some nice-ish libations available but I can attest that they do not stock Tooheys New. It’s a slap in the face I tell you, an insult these brave Tahs lads will not let slide.

Key match ups

Tenacious Tahs Tighties v Cunning Crusader Crucifiers

A battle for the ages is unlikely but the Tahs forward pack will run all night. And they will have to as the clever Crusader forward pack is likely to view the relatively lightweight Tahs forwards as an avenue to easy metres. Expect to see the indomitable Michael Hooper tied up in knots at the bottom of rucks, or cleaned out from the vicinity of the ball (where vicinity is defined as within five metres) all night long.


Michael Ala'alatoa

Michael Ala’alatoa, another who got away


Battle of the Backs

There is talent and guile in the big numbered jerseys for the Tahs and also significant brawn out wide so hopefully the tenacious Tahs tighties can win enough ball for Foley, Beale and Folau to show their footwork to best advantage. Crusader centre Tim Bateman may not be a big name but he is no Johnny-come-lately and won’t be easily deceived.

The game plans

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson hinted at the game plan for this week when interviewed for the NSW Rugby website after last week’s shock loss to the Blues: “What we need to improve on is nailing our opportunities when we have the ball-in-hand at crucial times. We’re trying to play some really positive rugby and at the moment, we are committing too many basic errors that are leading to turnovers.”

So, deciphering the coach-speak: “We have to be better.”

He’s onto something.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson will allow his team full rein to mix their tactics, with the forward pack choosing between close quarter hand to hand combat and wide pod work aimed at stretching the mobile Tahs before unleashing their intelligent backs. Expect to see Crusader fly-half Richie Mo’unga play orchestra conductor as he chooses the right moment to unleash the likes of Tamanivalu, Mataele and Bridge. The Tahs will need to be ever vigilant – every scrum, every lineout, every breakdown is viewed as an opportunity by the Crusaders.


Crusaders to be too clinical in all four corners of the match, taking their opportunities and punishing any Tahs mistakes.
Crusaders by 20.


Match Details


1. Joe Moody
2. Codie Taylor
3. Michael Alaalatoa
4. Scott Barrett
5. Sam Whitelock
6. Pete Samu
7. Matt Todd
8. Jordan Taufua
9. Bryn Hall
10. Richie Mo’unga
11. Manasa Mataele
12. Tim Bateman
13. Jack Goodhue
14. Seta Tamanivalu
15. George Bridge

16. Andrew Makalio
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Donald Brighouse
19. Mitchell Dunshea
20. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis
21. Mitch Drummond
22. Mitchell Hunt
23. Brayden Ennor


1. Tom Robertson
2. Damien Fitzpatrick
3. Sekope Kepu
4. Ned Hanigan
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. Cam Clark
15. Israel Folau

16. Hugh Roach
17. Harry Johnson-Holmes
18. Shambeckler Vui
19. Tom Staniforth
20. Jed Holloway
21. Jake Gordon
22. Lalakai Foketi
23. Bryce Hegarty

Match Details

Date: Saturday, 12 May 2018

Venue: AMI Stadium – Christchurch

Kick-off: 17:15 local, 15:15 AEST

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Assistant referees:Jamie Nutbrown, Paul Williams

TMO: Aaron Paterson

  • Adrian

    Yes, well, predicated margin is as per bookies (19.5), though Tahs have firmed a bit during the week.

    If any Australian team can fluke a win over the Crucaders, it would be the Tahs. Certainly not those other Oz sides with non-creative backs.

    I’m not tipping the Tahs, but IF they were to pull one off, it would require:
    Plenty of Crucader yellow cards (quite possible)
    Tricks galore from Beale, and no mistakes.
    Good jumping and running from Folau
    Getting ball to Naiyaravoro in open space
    A million tackles from back row
    Great running from Shambeckler Vui when he comes on
    Lineout steals from Simmons, Hanigan
    Great kicking from Foley
    IF all this happens at the same time, and Crucaders are 5% off their game it’s possible.

    I don’t mind Phipps starting, as Gordon looked exhausted last week. I’m glad Vui is on bench, but sad Latu isn’t.

    I don’t really think they played badly last week, and I think there is less pressure this week.

    A win is certainly possible,….but not probable

    • 2bluesfan

      Ah Adrian, you are one of the Tahs faithful :)

    • Ed

      A lot of ifs Adrian.

      I could be wrong but I think the Saders could exploit the lack of a kicking game with Naiyaravoro and Folau by kicking between them and trusting their chase to shut them down. Kick and chase, oh the irony of an Oz rugby show called something we Australians are pretty poor at.

      Our scrum could have a few problems as they are up against one of the best in the comp. You note lineout steals for the Tahs, but they are also up against one of the best in Whitelock.

      Tis a pity that Latu is not there as basically most of the Saders will have a crack at the breakdown if they think there is a chance.

      Two ex-Tahs starting for the Saders – Samu and Mike A.

      It could be close but the Saders engine too strong for the Tahs lighter pack. Thankfully the forecast is for no rain and light winds.

      • Adrian

        Yes, a lot if IFs is true.

        They pretty much all have to materialise.

        I think Hegarty (or Foley/Beale swapping with Hegarty will have the role of intercepting those kicks and setting up the big wingers,…or running themselves..not easy but possible

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        That two ex-Tahs starting days a lot mate

        • Ed

          True KRL.
          The question is, would they be the players they are now if they stayed here? Unfortunately, no is the most likely answer.

      • Braveheart81

        Pete Samu has never been a Waratah.

        • Ed

          Thanks Braveheart. I read an article where he played in a 2013 SR trial game against the Rebels, but I take it from your statement he never was a member of their SR squad?

        • Braveheart81

          Yes, he played a couple of trial games in 2013 as an uncontracted player (along with a bunch of other Shute Shield players) but never had a contract. Shame he didn’t hang around. I reckon he’d have got a contract in 2015 if he’d stayed in Sydney.

        • Ed

          Thanks for the details.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Big lot of ifs mate. I sense that even your positive spirit is struggling with this mate

    • Brumby Runner

      All of those ifs add up to the difference in game plan and team dynamics.

      Again, not a lot of differen ce in talent on an individual basis, but as a team the Crusaders have it over the Tahs atm, and likely to continue for some time yet.

  • 2bluesfan

    Love this line:
    “50/50 situations such as bouncing balls (Phipps can help)” – cruel but fair!
    Are the Tahs prepared to risk unpredictable tactics? Beale maybe.

    • Adrian

      They’ll risk them in this game alright

    • Brumby Runner

      Is that meant to be a commentary on Phipps’ woeful passing game. Expect to see bouncing balls emanating from his hands during the game.

  • Custard Taht

    The Tahs have got this….by 3.

    Why, because they have trained damn well this week and simply, god wills it.

    • Adrian

      That’s all we need, well done

  • Nutta

    I’ve put $100 on a Tarts win.


    Because Ned Hannigan said “Defence is an important part of the game, but so is attack.”


    Tarts will be sweet now…

    • Adrian

      29 points start Nutta, or just straight out?

      • Nutta


    • Moose

      Just saw Tahs are at ~$8.50 to win and thought ‘wow, maybe I’ll put… mmm, nah’

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      you are a legend.
      Hanican’t wouldn’t know a tackle if it hit him in the face

      • Custard Taht

        A tackle did hit him in the face, unfortunately, it was at a bar and belonged to Phipps!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Gold mate

    • Brisneyland Local

      That was a lazy Hungey?
      Go Neddy!

    • Mart

      worse 2nd row pairing in…. farkin urgh…

    • Reinforce

      This may be your night. Back in 2010 I backed the Reds for a hungie against the Crusaders at $8.10. I could feel the team building. The Tahs should have won last week and by god they will win this week. May you be wealthier on Sunday to spread some love your Mother’s way.

    • Nutta


  • Moose

    Thanks for the preview 2B, made me laugh, and at this point it’s either laugh or cry.

  • Nutta

    Yep. Rum. That’s the spirit that will let you make dumb arsed bets.

    But it’ll be fkn funny if it comes home!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I must admit if it does you’ll be who’ll I drink a toast to

  • Brisneyland Local

    Crusaders to do things to Hoss’s Tarts that a Central European Porn star would do for 5000 euro!
    I.E. Crusaders by 35

  • We are not without hope! No Owen Franks to terrorise our LHP, the backrow is a bit of a penalty magnet, the backline looks to have a lot of reserves playing, the bench has only Drummond and Crockett with much experience…

    More hopeless games have been won by the team finally pulling a good performance out of nowhere. But that is what it requires! A really good performance from a team who have made an artform out of turnovers. Cut those right down and we are some chance of an upset.

  • Richard Patterson

    This game will provide a very clear read on the mental state of rugby in Australia. Has the current mood of despondency infiltrated it’s way into the Waratah’s locker room, or is there steely determination within the group to keep fighting, address some deficiencies and win back some detractors? Feels to me like the exact same backdrop to Bledisloe II last year following the hiding in Sydney the previous weekend. On that occasion in Dunedin there was spirit, there was fight. There was evidence of lessons learnt and flaws corrected.

    Saturday night shapes as a significant test for not just coach Gibson and captain Michael Hooper, it is a test for the entire senior leadership group of experienced Wallabies who make up this playing group. The Crusaders will be direct, will be accurate and will be uncompromising. Will the Waratahs choose to compete for the entire match, a portion of the match or none of the match at all? Doesn’t digging oneself out of a hole start with one pain-staking swing of a shovel? Let’s see if right now, Rugby in Australia is up for the job.

    • Adrian

      Good analysis Richard

    • Sevenwithasixonmyback

      Got that first 30 all right and dropped the ball for the remaining 50.
      Heart in the throat stuff early on and sheer despair for the rest.
      The scoreline will make this match look close. There was nothing close about it following the binning of our 9 late in the first.
      And we had another on the naughty seat in the second.
      Two words against top competition… Discipline. Patience. Both failed the Tah’s when they should have hunkered down and held some lead.
      What an opportunity gone.
      Some curious decisions against us, but they always exist. Tah’s started but didn’t complete the job. Disappointment in camp tonight will be genuine.
      And the records go on…
      Top Sunwolves match though. BT will be under some great(er) pressure now…

      • Richard Patterson

        Excellent thoughts!
        Don’t they say the 1st step in winning tight contests in learning how to win tight contests?
        For 2 consecutive weeks now, haven’t the Waratahs (in very different circumstances) demonstrated they have yet to develop this sports intelligence?

        Oh – don’t they also say the good teams take the referee out of the tight contests?

        By failing to do the 1st step, they not surprisingly failed on the 2nd step. How much will they have learned from this will become clearer in the week’s ahead. Feel hopeful?

        Isn’t BT liked when the young Reds team grind out tight wins, then disliked when the young Reds team show mental immaturity and get tipped up easily?
        Isn’t turning around Queensland Rugby a 5-10 year project that will have lots of bumps in the road? Isn’t playing the long game here the strategy that will pay the greatest yield?

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Mate I think at this level most teams could win against most others. Takes the bounce of the ball, good decisions, some refereeing decisions going your way and hard work and intensity from your whole team. BUT, I just don’t think it’ll be enough this time

  • John Tynan

    Great write up, thanks.
    Particularly enjoyed “Some fools dream of money, fast cars and beautiful women but this fool dreams of beating the Crusaders.”

  • Kokonutcreme

    Hope the Tahs have been practising their wet weather strategy it’s going to be unpleasant conditions at Addington on Saturday night.

    • Adrian

      Oh dear
      Hasn’t rained in Sydney for ages.
      In any case, we drink our lattes inside

    • David Pettit

      I live in Christchurch, forecast is good.

  • Kokonutcreme

    Finally Braydon Ennor will get some game time off the bench. Have a lot of time for this kid. One of the backline stars from the NZ U20 team last year.

    • 2bluesfan

      Yeah Ennor is impressive. There’s a few in the queue in front of him though. And we’ve got …..

      • Mica


  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    As a long time fan of the Tahs, I’m feeling a little guilty for not following them closer. However I have my mental health to consider, and sometimes life is about getting one’s priorities right.

    • Seaweed

      Yep. Hammer meet nail.

      I see the god botherer is back at 15 instead of the wing. Will be the usual. He’ll be out of position most of the time but might score a try or two. Reminds me of Wendall Sailor, but at least he played on the wing … couple of games ago isn’t that what happened? Billy Graham on the wing? And wasn’t it good? Is that why we’re not doing it? Because it was good? Surely that’s the answer. It seemed to work so let’s do something else.

      Back to my mental health exercises now …

  • RugbyM

    3:15pm AEST kick off, not 19:15

    • 2bluesfan

      Yikes! You’re right. Thanks, I have corrected my error.

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