PREVIEW - TAHS v BLUES. BEYOND BLUE? - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

PREVIEW – TAHS v BLUES. BEYOND BLUE?

He's back! Expect to see plenty of this.
PREVIEW – TAHS v BLUES. BEYOND BLUE?

First in one conference playing at home versus last in another conference playing away. The former has five wins, the latter just two (one of which is against the Sunwolves). It’s a no-brainer, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORM

Super Rugby Standings 2018 (pre 040518)

As it stands prior to this weekend. See – it’s obvious, right?

Get out your whiteboard and pay close attention – this could be tricky. The Tahs flogged the Reds, the Lions pantsed the Tahs and the Reds beat the Lions, all in consecutive weeks. The Blues traditionally struggle in Sydney, yet overcame that last year. This year the match is at Brookvale Oval, so does that help or hinder the home team? Both teams are coming off last match losses, both have lost to the Jaguares, and neither team can beat a Kiwi team. All of which suggests it may not be a no-brainer.

WHY SHOULD I BOTHER?

If nothing else, this should be entertaining. Lions match excepted, a Tahs outfit changing the shape of its game, and generally for the better, against a Blues team that can do a fine impression of their fellow blue jersey wearing Le Bleu’s cousins in that no-one is ever sure which team will turn up, and when. It’s at Brooky, so that adds a new element to it, especially with the recent complaints from the local mungos about the surface quality. Izzy’s back, which is usually worth a watch if nothing else, but overlay his recent theological discussions and that adds another dimension too. Finally, whispering……there’s the odd chance that an Australian conference team might just snatch a W against one of those annoying Kiwi teams. But let’s not dwell too much on that, at least not until late Saturday night, if relevant.

KEY MATCHUPS

Our CC

Our “cube”. Good to see him back, even if he was born in Auckland.

There’s fun all over the park, but let’s focus on the spices.
Cam Clark v Caleb Clarke (CC v CC) – the Battle of the “cubes”. If nothing else, listening to the commentators get their tongues around this could be interesting, especially if one of the said commentators shares a name and a gene pool. I like the inclusion of our CC – I prefer him to Newsome as he’s a cool head and a solid player who does the work. As to their CC – I look forward to seeing him.
Halves. This will be a ripper. I rate Pulu, and reckon he’d be much higher up the All Black pecking order if he played for a better Kiwi team. Many a time he’s been the one keeping the Blues alive. Meanwhile, Gordon is one of the form halves in the competition, with a similar playing style, so this will be a battle royale.
X-factor players. Ioane squared. They were the difference in Sydney last year, but as this season has progressed, their form has slowly weakened. Probably not helped by Reiko playing out of position, and the general lack of combination for the Blues due to their injuries (16 not available for selection this week). Meanwhile, Taqele and Izzy provide the sizzle for the Tahs, but they’ll need Bernie and Beale to be on song, neither of which happened last time out. No pressure boys.
Game Management. Not talked about enough, but it has come to the fore recently and for good reason. On balance, the Tahs have been better at it this year (let’s not forget, they lead the conference), so composure under pressure and some smart rugby EQ could be enough to make a difference.

GAME PLANS

The Tahs are reasonably settled (in between bizarre bovine backs and gospel rants), with coach Gibson only tweaking his combinations. Two back row flyers and a 5/3 bench with Izzy to 15 suggests a fast game, and the aerial tactics we saw before Folau was injured can be expected to continue. The Tahs pack has been improving at set piece, and this will be another challenge for them. Expect a similar style to the match against the Reds, with an Izzy overlay. Could be compelling. Conversely, the Blues will struggle with combinations, although they’ll welcome the return of Pulu, Kaino and Tuipulotu. I’m sure coach Umaga always has a game plan, but sometimes it’s difficult to discern. Game management seems to be a Blues weakness, as it has been for some years, and I haven’t seen much this season to disprove that. Individual brilliance will certainly feature, but it may not be enough. I hope Jaco is ready for some running because I think he’ll be busy.

Rob Simmons with the lineout.

The recent return of Rob Simmons has helped improve the Tahs’ set piece.

PREDICTION

Tahs by 4 in an unusual match. Be prepared for anything, and it may just happen.

TEAM LISTS

WARATAHS

1 Tom Robertson 2 Damien Fitzpatrick 3 Sekope Kepu 4 Ned Hanigan 5 Rob Simmons 6 Will Miller 7 Michael Hooper © 8 Michael Wells 9 Jake Gordon 10 Bernard Foley (VC) 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro 12 Kurtley Beale 13 Lalakai Foketi 14 Cam Clark 15 Israel Folau
BENCH: 16 Hugh Roach 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes 18 Paddy Ryan 19 Tom Staniforth 20 Jed Holloway 21 Nick Phipps 22 Curtis Rona 23 Bryce Hegarty

HEAD COACH: Daryl Gibson

BLUES

1 Ross Wright 2 James Parsons 3 Sione Mafileo 4 Patrick Tuipulotu 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti 6 Jerome Kaino 7 Dalton Papalii 8 Akira Ioane 9 Augustine Pulu 10 Stephen Perofeta 11 Caleb Clarke 12 Rieko Ioane 13 Orbyn Leger 14 Tumua Manu 15 Matt Duffie

BENCH: 16 Matt Moulds 17 Pauliasi Manu 18 Mike Tamoaieta 19 Ben Nee-Nee or Lyndon Dunshea 20 Murphy Taramai 21 Jonathan Ruru 22 Dan Kirkpatrick 23 Terrence Hepetema

HEAD COACH: Tana Umaga

MATCH DETAILS

Date: Saturday 5th May 2018
Venue: Brookvale Oval, Sydney
Kick-off: 19:45 local (AEDT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (AR1) Will Houston (AR2)
TMO: George Ayoub

  • And both head coaches at severe risk of not making it past 2018 before the axe falls…

    • Xaviera

      Be hard to sack a head coach who delivers a conference winning team. Umaga however, is a different story. I think his survival will depend on who the alternative may be.

      • fatman

        To be honest though, the Blues are in the toughest pool whereas The Waratahs are just the best of a bad bunch.

        • Xaviera

          True indeed. But let’s not be too rational about it. After all, the Sharks just flogged the Highlanders, and the Tahs drew with the Sharks, so it’s obvious that the Tahs will beat the Highlanders in a fortnight, right?

        • fatman

          That’s some sort of reasoning right there. I guess when all else fails we all we have left is hope.

  • Adrian

    Hmm… won’t be easy for Tahs, but I’m tipping them… just.

    We know forwards are light-on, but the 3 back row tacklers will be needed for Ione brothers …and the other Blues runners.

    Backs better balanced than last week, where we had 4 playmakers, but only 2 finishers, because Naiyaravoro was used as an extra forward….something Gibson said he regretted.

    This week, 3 playmakers and 4 finishers including both Folau and Naiyaravoro. This should mean points.

    I’m sorry Latu isn’t playing after his 2 tries last week in club Rugby. Not just fitness I suspect.

    Despite all of the false commentary, Folau only wore 14 for 84 minutes,…. but his game will still be 50:50 14 and 15. I do expect high kicks to his wing this game, …but let’s wait and see

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hey Adrian. Yeah I think it’ll be close. I’m picking the Blues – have to really but also I’m not actually confident in either team as both have some great players but also the tendency to make dumb decisions at times. If the Blues pressure Foley and Beale into mistakes then anything could happen.
      For the sake of Australian rugby I hope the Tahs win though. Good luck mate

      • Adrian

        Yes, there is more pressure on Tahs than you would normally expect for this match. Not just winning for Oz sake (sounds weird saying that), but also possible left over “ballast” re Folau, Phipps.
        Oddly enough, I think NSW usually cope with extraneous pressure, because as some critics say, “they don’t give a shit”

        They’ll be up for the match, and they’ll win if they make their somewhat unorthodox passes and tactics stick

  • Xaviera

    Game management. End of story. Frustrating beyond words.

  • Mart

    Forwards got bullied again.

    Jed hollaway came on with a bit more mongrel.

    That little passing interchange that led to the Blues first try was woeful from some of the best in the country.

    Tahs like current Wallabies showed that you don’t need to be a better team, just put heaps of pressure on them and wait for the screw ups.

    Foley is not looking great at the moment.

    Cam clarke what a chase, i showed that to my boys, great example never give up.

    Hooper’s ref management has gone downhill, i thought he was getting good. I have never seen Peyper ref a good game. It’s always painful.

    • Will

      Thought peyper was doing his best to keep the Tahs in the game in front of a desperate home crowd.

      • Mart

        Can’t really disagree with that.
        He’s always noticeable as a ref and i find his calls inconsistent. He missed 3 blues knock ons.
        He’ll be super correct on some things and then have howlers on others.
        Just find him painful and always influential on the game

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