Sunday afternoon football returns to Sydney this weekend. And the fans are set to embrace it with more than 35,000 expected to turn up for what is most likely the match up of the round. The Crusaders in recent weeks have looked awesome. They have a complete game and a style very few can match. It will take a special effort to match them in the form they bring into this match. The Waratahs have shown for periods of the season that they have the game to match the Crusaders. But they are yet to put together a complete performance.
The Crusaders come off wins over competition heavyweights the Stormers and the Hurricanes while the Waratahs are off a bye and a stuttering stop-start win over the lowly Rebels. And then there is the massive herd of elephants out of their cupboard and having a wee rest on the reserves bench. Yes, Richie McCaw is back. McCaw along with Dan Carter makes up the Heart and Brain of the Crusaders outfit. This is the first time in 2012 that both will make it on to the field at the same time. If the Crusaders have looked good so far how good can they be with these two back together?
While the Waratahs’ overall record against the Crusaders side is not great it’s pretty good when they play in Sydney. Their afternoon match record is even better. Their injured players, Palu, Elsom and Barnes, all have game time under their belts and they have a forward pack without equal in this country. On the minus side for the Tahs are injuries to Bernard Foley and Paddy Ryan and the suspension of Rob Horne for a dangerous tackle. Foley’s work from fullback will be the most missed.
The Crusaders on the other hand come into the game with a full strength squad. And a backline running rampant. Robbie Fruean and Israel Dagg are in rare form and five-eighth Tom Taylor’s game has forced Carter’s move to inside centre — a position he hasn’t played for a very long time.
Unfortunately the Waratahs’ run-on XV is not available at this time. Below is a best guess at the run on side.
Waratahs V Crusaders – The Teams
|Benn Robinson||1. Prop||Ben Franks|
|Tatafu Polota-Nau||2. Hooker||Corey Flynn|
|Sekope Kepu||3. Prop||Owen Franks|
|Dean Mumm||4. Lock||Tom Donnelly|
|Kane Douglas||5. Lock||Luke Romano|
|Dave Dennis||6. Flanker||George Whitelock|
|Rocky Elsom||7. Flanker||Matt Todd|
|Wycliff Palu||8. # Eight||Kieran Read|
|Brendan McKibbin||9. Halfback||Andrew Ellis|
|Daniel Halangahu||10. Fly Half||Tom Taylor|
|Peter Betham||11. Wing||Zac Guildford|
|Berrick Barnes||12. Inside Centre||Daniel Carter|
|Tom Carter||13 Outside Centre||Robbie Fruean|
|Tom Kingston||14. Wing||Adam Whitelock|
|Adam Ashley-Cooper||15. Fullback||Israel Dagg|
|John Ulugia||16. Reserve||Ben Funnell|
|Jeremy Tilse||17. Reserve||Wyatt Crockett|
|Sitaleki Timani||18. Reserve||Sam Whitelock|
|Jono Jenkins||19. Reserve||Richard McCaw|
|Lopeti Timani||20. Reserve||Willi Heinz|
|Sarel Pretorius||21. Reserve||Ryan Crotty|
|Atieli Pakalani||22. Reserve||Tom Marshall|
Venue &time: Sunday April 29, 2012 Allianz Stadium 4.10pm
Head to Head: Played 18 – Crusaders 14, Waratahs 4
Last Time: 04 Mar 2011 Waratahs v Crusaders 18-33 Nelson
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Be part of the conversation on Twitter using #WARVCRU
The Game Breaker
We can talk about Elsom, Palu, Carter and McCaw all day but the man running hot right now is Israel Dagg. Dagg had a huge game last week and the Waratahs’ re-jigged backline will have a lot of trouble keeping him quiet.
The Fearless Prediction
As much as I’d like to predict a Waratahs victory here it’s just not going to happen. I think the Crusaders match or better the Tahs across the park. And the home crowd, the Sunday afternoon atmosphere won’t be enough to counter the Crusaders’ form and the Tahs’ injuries.
Crusaders by 14.
Last words: why not go and see a local game this Saturday? The deserve your support as well.