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

Preview: Waratahs v Hurricanes

Preview: Waratahs v Hurricanes

This is shaping up to be a huge game for both teams and a loss will see either team finish the weekend outside the top 6. The Hurricanes will be brimming with confidence after four consecutive wins and will look to make it consecutive wins at Allianz Stadium after smashing the Waratahs in wet conditons in 2012. If ever there was a time to draw on their good home ground record this is it as the Waratahs are desperate for a win to get their campaign back on track and keep pace with the leaders. Failure to win away from home makes this game especially critical for the New South Welshmen and they will be feeling the pressure after a fairly dismal display against the Blues last week.


The Teams

Wycliff Palu returns to the starting lineup and he’ll need to compete strongly with Victor Vito and Jack Lam to give his team a chance. An unchanged lineup from the Hurricanes will be looking to continue their impressive try scoring run and Julian Savea and Corey Jane will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing two somewhat out of position wingers in Rob Horne and Matt Carraro.


Waratahs fans have grown increasingly frustrated with the combination of Foley and Beale in the playmaking roles and an early streak of form has been replaced by an inability to score tries. Better execution and decision making as well as Kurtley Beale being far more direct with his running are essential if the Tahs backline are to measure up to the scintillating Canes backs.


Will Skelton is unfortunate to drop to the bench to make way for a forward pack reshuffle and Cliff Palu returning to number 8. It’s certain he will get plenty of minutes in the second half however and the Tahs will be looking for the massive lock to provide new ball running impetus and strong physicality in the back end of the game. Paddy Ryan returns to tight head and will have his work cut out for him in containing Ben Franks in the scrum. The two extremely mobile props are likely to be highly active around the field. Both have shown plenty of strong ball running and crunching defence in 2014 and Franks in particular has been superb for the Wellington side.

Waratahs v Bulls 2014 Keith McInnes KPC5418

Will Skelton will be looking to provide huge impact in the second half.


Key Matchups

The outside centre dual between Adam Ashley-Cooper and Conrad Smith has featured many times before and both players are in outstanding form. With 166 test matches between them, these two know everything there is about playing in the 13 jersey. Ashley-Cooper has been driving much of the backline penetration in recent weeks and will be hoping that better ball handling from his side will see some of those opportunities converted into points.

Brumbies vs Waratahs 2ndHalf _0150_2014_03_15_10489

There’ll be no time to rest for Adam Ashley-Cooper if he wants to contain Conrad Smith


Nick Phipps needs to improve his passing accuracy and will have to put plenty of pressure on his opposing halfback, TJ Perenara. Unless Phipps can interrupt the service Perenara provides to the Hurricanes’ backs, the Waratahs could struggle to contain their opponents off set piece ball. The Canes thrive on turnover ball and have to be one of the best sides in Super Rugby at scoring points immediately from turnovers. Fast and precise decision making from Perenara will once again be crucial to his team’s chance of capitalising on Waratahs’ mistakes.


The locking combination of Kane Douglas and Jacques Potgieter are going to be vital and on paper it is one of the few areas you could see an advantage for the home side. Jeremy Thrush and James Broadhurst are no slouches but they’re sure to face some aggressive physicality from their opposition. They’ll need to hold their own in the loose and put pressure on a Tahs’ lineout that has had huge struggles at various times.


The Fearless Prediction

It’s hard to split these two sides and both the form and recent success in this matchup makes it hard to go past the Hurricanes. Allianz Stadium has proven to be something of a fortress for the Tahs over the years and I think familiarity could help them across the line this weekend. They’ve talked the talk all season but the Waratahs will know that it’s now or never if they want to play with the big boys and that motivation will see them get up in a close encounter. I expect a better handling performance from the Waratahs this week and they’ll win by a try. If dry conditions prevail, I expect a few tries from each team and some exciting backline play.


  • footie


  • Bairdy

    Nice writeup, Will.
    Haven’t checked the forecast, but hoping for clear skies and sun; conditions conducive to running rugby!

    A Force fan I may be, but I want to see the Tahs improve from last week’s shocker and just put a complete 80-minute beatdown on the men from Wellington.

    For the Australian conference’s sake!

    • Lindommer

      Cold front coming over Sydney with some rain predicted. Looks like the start of winter.

    • Dean

      It’s a 7.40pm start, so unlikely to be much sunshine.
      Also cold, rainy & windy…just like Wellington.
      My heart says Tahs, but unfortunately my head says Canes.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    I keep on hearing comments that the Tahs weren’t that far off last weekend against the Auckland Blues. Maybe that’s right and I’m just expecting too much, who knows? But it sure seemed like they were way off from where I was sitting, especially in the ball handling stakes. And what’s worse is they were unable to do anything about it during the entire 80. How’s that!
    The Wellington boys are playing some damn fine Rugby & it’s hard for me to believe that in just one week enough has changed at Tahland for us to come away with a win. Sure hope I’m wrong. Regardless, I’ll be yelling my lungs out at the TV & willing the boys on.
    Come you mighty Tahs. It’s now or never.

  • Graeme

    Beale seems to be getting quite a bit of unfair criticism in my humble opinion. He has been targeted and he is only learning the role of 12. But I would say he has earned a pass mark so far.

    Foley has been a bigger worry, his form from last year seems to have disappeared, and Phipps service (to both Foley and Beale) seems to be a lot of the problem.

    On the tipping site, I’ve tipped the Hurricanes to win this, but I do think the ‘tahs are completely capable of winning this if they come out and play as well as they are capable of…

    • Patrick

      I think even the kiwis think the tahs are capable of winning. But the problem for the tahs is that no-one can possibly feel convinced that they will.

    • Tahs_Man_Fan

      To be honest, I think the criticism is fair and justified. Just my humble opinion too – just a disclaimer :)
      Beale is an experienced player, who has played 12 before, he shouldn’t be “learning” the role at 12, just polishing himself as the finished product. But he’s not. Whilst he has shown glimpses of his potential, and for that might have earned a pass mark, I don’t think he should be our long term option at 12. Beale crumbles under pressure. He crabs across the field without straightening either his runs or the passes he offloads. He is poor in defence, and doesn’t have an imposing enough figure to generate the go forward we need in the midfield. Whilst he is a gifted player with great rugby vision, I am not a fan of the 2 play maker set up. Pick him or Foley, not both.
      Otherwise the “running rugby” becomes all too much, the ball isn’t respected, players don’t get to the breakdown quick enough or passes are forced and knocked on. It’s been the story of our life the last 2 seasons now. Ideally, I think we’d be far better off with Carraro or Horne providing a McCabe-esque player at 12, or even long term slot Folau at 12 so he gets plenty of ball, with Beale coming in from fullback and exploiting the gaps. But as it is, until Beale proves me wrong, I think he is a weak option at 12

      • the pirate

        agreed with all that except for the Folau at 12, though I know you were only throwing that out there in a spitballing kinda way. I wouldn’t want to change things up too much so I would just swap
        Horne and Beale .Apart from that , I think you have nailed it unfortunately

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Summed up nicely Mr. Pirate. ‘Swap Horne for Beale’.
          Horney’s playing some very good footy at the moment but seems a tad slow on the wing as a ‘finisher’ with real pace. Reckon he’d do a good job for us at inside centre.
          KB on the wing would allow him to play to his strengths without the need to feel like he has to direct play. And since he seems to like running towards the sideline so much, put him there & have him run straight & fast.
          I’m still wondering if the 2 playmaker idea is creating more problems than benefits. Me thinks it’s time for the KISS principle to allow the team to settle.

        • the pirate

          I think the two playmaker approach was well worth a shot by all means but think opponents have it worked out now and the strategy is limiting both Beale and Foley at the moment. Like you , I also think Horne is looking good but is clearly being played out of position. After the last few years of seeing this at Wallaby level I must admit it is something I have now come to hate as it effects not only the team but the player as well. I think Horne at 12 would straighten the attack, stiffen the defence, and hopefully allow Foley a chance to regain the kind of form he had last year. I don’t see a big drama with moving Beale to the wing as he defends there anyway and can combine with Folau in counterattack .I also think KB has enough pace to serve as a genuine finisher as well and , with a roving commission, could come into first receiver often enough to mix things up.
          Needless to say I will be hoping that the boys play well enough on the weekend to make me eat my words but I cant help but feel that even if they do we will still need to sort out our midfield and straighten our attack if we wish to have any hope of making the finals let alone successfully navigate the business end of the season

        • Tahs_Man_Fan

          Agree with all comments above. If only cheika read these forums aye!!

          Pirate I did hear something at the end of last year about cheika considering folau as a possible 12, long term, so he could get his hands on the pill more. But personally I’d prefer a real hard nosed bit of aggression in Horne or maybe that new Fijian fella who signed from the tigers

        • the pirate

          I got excited when I read about that young bloke as well really hope it works out for him.
          My thing with Folau is that in my opinion he is not only the best 15 in the country ( apologies to Jesse Mogg who I also like) but arguably in the top three in the world and this not even half way through his second year.
          Much as I hate hype , I do honestly believe that if he continues the way he has so far Izzy could develop into one of the greatest fullbacks to ever play the game .
          A long way to go yet on that score but I firmly believe he should be allowed to settle into that position and make it his own .
          Given time, I think he could be an excellent 12 , 13 or winger as well but his almost unique abilities under the highball ( abilities Australian rugby has outrageously been lacking) seriously limits and constrains any oppositions’ game strategy and tactical kicking approach and thus he is far too valuable at 15 for any team to consider moving

  • Ash

    Hurricanes are our bogey team. They’re on fire. Tahs to lose by plenty and season over.

  • Larkhage

    I want the tahs to win, but I really think the canes have this one. Please prove me wrong!

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