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

Preview: Waratahs v Chiefs

Preview: Waratahs v Chiefs

The Waratahs might be sitting on top of the Aussie conference but their situation couldn’t be more precarious. With four matches to go it looks like the Waratahs will need to win all of them to make the finals and on Friday night at Allianz Stadium they face the current competition leaders, the Chiefs. It’s not often the Waratahs run out at home as underdogs but that’s precisely the scenario against a red hot Chiefs side that has played some scintillating rugby in 2016.

The Waratahs

After four straight wins, the Waratahs went to Christchurch last week with plenty of optimism against their old nemesis, the Crusaders. Any hopes were short lived however when they found themselves down 12-nil in as many minutes. Playing in driving rain, the Waratahs were never in the contest and now face a stern test in Sydney to keep their season alive. In four of the Waratahs five losses in 2016, the Waratahs have leaked tries inside the opening 10 minutes and in each case it has been terminal. Against a quality team like the Chiefs they can’t expect to compete if they’re chasing the game from the beginning. Intensity, discipline and execution will be critical from the opening whistle.


The Chiefs

There’s plenty to love about the way the Chiefs have played in 2016. If you put together a tries of the season playlist they’d feature heavily and many of those would be both started and finished by Damian McKenzie. The 21 year old pocket dynamo from Invercargill is arguably the hottest property in New Zealand rugby right now. His ability to read the game and attack from anywhere is almost unmatched. All Black flyhalf, Aaron Cruden is the conductor of a backline that is well and truly singing in tune. Even with a few injuries they are gelling well and have the ability to score off even the smallest error.


Key matchups

The 7s

The respective openside flankers and team captains from each side couldn’t play with a much more contrasting style. Sam Cane is the classic openside, living over the ball, looking to pilfer at every opportunity. He’ll test out referee Jaco Peyper from the first minute to see how much leeway he is permitted in terms of releasing the tackled player and staying on his feet. The Waratahs cleanouts will have to be lightning fast and sniper rifle-accurate if they want to keep their possession and not give away penalties.

 

On the other side, Michael Hooper is a threat in both attack and defence and will be looking for opportunities to run whenever possible. His form in recent weeks has been very strong and he has led the Waratahs through a midseason resurgence. He will need to be at the top of his game and be a threat at the breakdown for the Waratahs to stand a chance.

The Midfield

If there’s one area the Waratahs can hope to have an advantage it’s in the centres. The Waratahs might be without Kurtley Beale but equally, the Chiefs are missing first choice 12 Charlie Ngatai. Rob Horne reprises the role of 12 which he played throughout the 2013 season and he faces up against young gun, Anton Lienert-Brown. The Waratahs best player, Israel Folau has been in brilliant form at 13 and he’ll be looking to get one over the exciting Seta Tamanivalu. Horne is sure to add defensive starch to the Waratahs midfield but he’ll have to be at the top of his game to defuse the deft playmaking in centre field that Cruden will be orchestrating.

In attack, the Waratahs will be hoping that the strong running of Horne and the footwork, acceleration and line running ability of Folau will provide the attacking advantage the Waratahs will need to win.


Fearless Prediction

As has been mentioned, the Waratahs start underdogs but their last start at Allianz against the Bulls was arguably their best performance of the year and they’ll be desperate to improve on it. With not just their own season on the line but injured team mates Benn Robinson, Kurtley Beale and Jed Holloway to play for, expect plenty of passion from the home team. The team will be focused and will play with plenty of intent. They’re going to need to if they want to secure a win against the competition leaders.

This author is well and truly wearing his heart on his sleeve but Tahs by 1.

Teams

NSW Waratahs

1. Paddy Ryan
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau
3. Tom Robertson
4. Dave Dennis (vc)
5. Will Skelton
6. Dean Mumm
7. Michael Hooper (c)
8. Wycliff Palu
9. Nick Phipps
10. Bernard Foley
11. Zac Guildford
12. Rob Horne
13. Israel Folau
14. Matt Carraro
15. Andrew Kellaway

Replacements
16. Hugh Roach
17. Jeremy Tilse
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. Sam Lousi
20. Jack Dempsey
21. Matt Lucas
22. Dave Horwitz
23. Reece Robinson

Chiefs

1. Mitchell Graham
2. Nathan Harris
3. Hiroshi Yamashita
4. Dominic Bird
5. Brodie Retallick
6. Taleni Seu
7. Sam Cane (co-c)
8. Tom Sanders
9. Brad Weber
10. Aaron Cruden (co-c)
11. James Lowe
12. Anton Lienert-Brown
13. Seta Tamanivalu
14. Toni Pulu
15. Damian McKenzie

Replacements
16. Hika Elliot
17. Kane Hames
18. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi
19. Michael Allardice
20. Lachlan Boshier
21. Kayne Hammington
22. Andrew Horrell
23. Sam Vaka

NSW Waratahs

Too much sport is never enough. Go the Waratahs!

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