Six days after a dramatic return to form against the Brumbies, the Waratahs will be champing at the bit to run out onto Allianz Stadium in front of another excited Waratahs crowd on Saturday night. Into town step the Auckland Blues who have somehow managed to not be fresh after the bye after halfback Bryn Hall was injured playing club rugby.
What’s there to say about the Blues? They’re pretty much the same as usual. A great looking side on paper with a scintillating backline that can tear any side to ribbons. Unfortunately, when it plays out on the field, that blistering attack doesn’t outweigh the lack of both execution and defence. Prior to the bye they took it to the Hurricanes but ultimately ended up one try short of their opposition. They’re zero and five and running dead last.
The Waratahs produced easily their best performance of the season in week 6 against the Brumbies. The accuracy was finally there and aggressive defence and physicality was combined with some good execution to secure a solid win. They’re sitting mid table and will be wary of staying in touch with the leaders.
Two players shone above the others against the Brumbies, Sekope Kepu and Israel Folau. The Waratahs scrum has shown far more strength in 2015 than it did last year and a big part of that is down to Kepu’s form. His set piece work is excellent and he’s been a dynamo around the field. His size and athleticism make him a real threat in open play and he’s keen to get involved. He’ll be looking for more space to run on Saturday night.
Israel Folau hadn’t scored a Super Rugby try since Week 18 of the 2014 season but finally he found the tryline last Sunday. A superb all around game meant he was a constant threat and this culminated late in the game where he began a three phase, length of the field move that resulted in a try to Tolu Latu. You feel like he won’t need to wait nearly so long for his next try.
Charlie Faumuina has confirmed that he’s staying in New Zealand after the Rugby World Cup and is backing himself to be one of the first choice tight head props for the All Blacks. He needs to lead the Blues’ forward pack to counteract what is certain to be a physical display from the Waratahs.
Charles Piutau has oscillated throughout the outside backs and played 13 last start. This week he finds himself back at fullback and opposite Folau. He will need to ignite the Blues backline if they’re to threaten the Waratahs.
It’s hard to imagine the Waratahs won’t be pumped up from their good outing against the Brumbies and be keen for another dose. With Israel Folau continually proving a threat out wide, the Waratahs will be looking to attack the Blues at every opportunity. If they pull it together it’s hard to imagine the Blues getting close. It’s up to the forward pack to set the platform and if they can achieve dominance the Waratahs should be too good.
Waratahs by 15
Waratahs v Blues
|Benn Robinson||1||Tony Woodcock|
|Tolu Latu||2||James Parsons|
|Sekope Kepu||3||Charlie Faumuina|
|Will Skelton||4||Hayden Triggs|
|David Dennis (C)||5||Patrick Tuipulotu|
|Jacques Potgieter||6||Steven Luatua|
|Michael Hooper (VC)||7||Brendon O’Connor|
|Wycliff Palu||8||Jerome Kaino|
|Nick Phipps||9||Jimmy Cowan|
|Bernard Foley||10||Dan Bowden|
|Rob Horne||11||Melani Nanai|
|Kurtley Beale||12||Francis Saili|
|Matt Carraro||13||George Moala|
|Taqele Naiyaravoro||14||Frank Halai|
|Israel Folau (VC)||15||Charles Piutau|
|Hugh Roach||16||Keven Mealamu|
|Jeremy Tilse||17||Ofa Tu’ungafasi/Sam Prattley|
|Paddy Ryan||18||Angus Ta’avao|
|Sam Lousi||19||Culum Retallick|
|Mitchell Chapman||20||Luke Braid|
|Stephen Hoiles||21||Jamison Gibson-Park|
|Brendan McKibbin||22||Simon Hickey|
|Peter Betham/Jono Lance||23||Pita Ahki|
|Location:||Allianz Stadium, Sydney|
|Kickoff:||Sat 28 Mar 19:40|
|Assistant Ref 1:||Andrew Lees|
|Assistant Ref 2:||Damien Mitchelmore|
|TMO :||Peter Marshall|