Review: Blues v Waratahs - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Review: Blues v Waratahs

Review: Blues v Waratahs

Hawko iconThe Eden Park hoodoo struck again with the Blues beating the Waratahs 21-13.

It was a huge game, with the season outcome on the line. The Blues had to win to re-establish their season after two bad games. The Waratahs needed to win to stay in the race for the top two.

It was a great game to watch because of the intensity of the confrontation and both teams positive play; both teams putting in a huge effort. Jerome Kaino was back to his 2012 world’s best form. The Waratah’s handling skills let them down too many times to count.

The Match

The Waratahs got off to a non-flyer with a disallowed try to Horne very early.The early penalties were going to the Blues, 4-0 up before the Waratahs got a couple. Hickey kicked one and missed one and Foley missed a good chance.

Horrible 50-50 turnovers were killing the Waratahs momentum, Kepu’s knock-on the worst example. The back and forth in the midfield was great to watch and Visinia scored in the corner off a couple of magic Nonu moments.

Gradually in the second quarter the Waratahs started to come back into it. Kepu was replaced by Ryan after 28 minutes and both the scrum and lineout for the Waratahs were dominant in the second quarter. The half finished with the Blues under all sorts of pressure but no further score. You felt that the Blues were glad to get to oranges so they could regroup.

The second half started with a Blues penalty to take the score to 11-3. At this stage the Waratahs scrum was totally dominant, the Blues were collapsing to save the ball and referee Pollock was allowing play to go on. Good for the spectators but not a very fair outcome.

There was a lot of great play by both sides and then the turning point. Foley got in the clear, put a great kick to Crawford with the tryline open, the ball took a wicked bounce and two passes later the Blues were in for the try. 18-3.

Credit to the Waratahs they did not give up. They continued to apply pressure on the Blues and after a long period of dominance, a huge maul that stopped just a couple of metres short, some great attack and Potgieter finally dived in to score. 18-10. After continued pressure, on 68 minutes the Waratahs finally got a scrum penalty to get back to 18-13 and game on.

Then the second turning point. McKibbin, who had just come on for Phipps, did a disastrous box kick that left all the Waratahs forwards offside. Hickey kicked the penalty to stretch the lead to eight points.

At last the Tahs got a scrum penalty 45 metres out and Foley stepped up, but it was beyond his accurate range. It should have gone to Beale, who has been very accurate from distance this year. The match played out till the 82 minute with the Waratahs desperate to get a score and bonus point, but no luck.

It was a very even, very tough and very exciting match. The Blues won it because they made fewer handling errors than the Waratahs and got the bounce of the ball. Cheika will have to change game plan and insist that miracle passes are taken out of it. Going to ground and recycling on attack has to become the norm!

The Blues are back in the race and the Waratahs lost a golden chance to progress and must now win some away matches plus all their home games if they are to get to the top of the conference.


The Game Changer

The bounce of the ball did not help the Waratahs all night. A great kick by Foley for Crawford took a wicked bounce. What looked like a seven point runaway for the Waratahs turned into a good try to the Blues. A fourteen point turnaround plus the momentum the Waratahs were on at that stage would have changed the outcome. But, not to be.


Jerome Kaino for the Blues caused havoc every time he got near the ball and was overall MotM. The Waratahs MotM was Adam Ashley-Cooper; Hooper and Potgieter were very good for the Waratahs.

Wallaby watch

Robinson was OK in general play, TPN quiet, Kepu pulled early. Skelton was powerful, Hooper and Ashley-Cooper were immense. Phipps didn’t enhance his cause.

The Details

Crowd: Not known

Score & Scorers

Blues  21
Tries: 2 (Visinia, Saili)
Conversions: 1/2 (Hickey)
Penalties: 3/3 (Hickey)
Waratahs 13
Tries: 1 (Potgieter)
Conversions:1 (Foley)
Penalties: 2/4 (Foley)

Cards & citings

No cards. Citings unknown

Team lists

Blues: 15. Charles Piutau, 14. Frank Halai, 13. Francis Saili, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Lolagi Visinia, 10. Simon Hickey, 9. Bryn Hall, 8. Peter Saili, 7. Luke Braid, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Tom Donnelly, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 2. Keven Mealamu, 1. Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16. James Parsons, 17. Sam Prattley, 18. Angus Ta’avao, 19. Hayden Triggs, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Steven Luatua, 22. Ihaia West, 23. Pita Ahki

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14. Cam Crawford, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Kurtley Beale, 11. Rob Horne, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Nick Phipps, 8. Dave Dennis (C), 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Jacques Potgieter, 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Will Skelton, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Tatafu Polota Nau, 1. Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16. Tolu Latu, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Paddy Ryan, 19. Pat McCutcheon, 20. Wycliff Palu, 21. Brendan McKibbin, 22 Jono Lance, 23. Matt Carraro/Stephen Hoiles


Referee: Chris Pollock

Assistant referees: Nick Briant, Mike Lash

TMO: Glenn Newman 

  • yourmatesam

    What’s doing with the Tahs? Body language amongst the group was poor, Beale shooting dirty looks left, right and centre. Hooper didn’t look happy, arguing with Steve Walsh. There’s something deeper happening at the Tahs, the love isn’t there amongst the group and it’s showing.
    I’m not a fan of the Waratahs, but I thought they genuinely had a good setup this year, Cheika’s second stint at the helm, a hard pre-season and sensible talk. I saw them up close in Albury in February and everything seemed pretty calm and collected and things looked set for a really good year for the team.
    Maybe I’m reading too much into the body language on the field, but something is amiss with those guys.

    • Slim 293

      Steve Walsh was in Canberra…

      But yes, the attitude of some of the players (namely Beale and Phipps) needs readjusting…

      • yourmatesam

        My apologies, he was too. Pollock did the Tahs game! Thanks for the pick up there Slim!

    • Mark Blackwood

      Yep, something wasn’t right from the start.
      They don’t seem to play well away from home

    • Just a fan

      Every time I watch Beale at the moment he seems to be getting the shits with his team mates. It looked like he was having a go after the mess up in goal last night, despite being involved himself. He blames others for not catching his crappy passes and its someone else’s fault if he drops the ball. He even gets shitty about being tackled.
      A player like that can do a lot of damage in a team, especially when they are billed as one of the stars. A few weeks ago I watched him rip into one of his team mates who was a young guy making his debut. How must it feel for that kid? Beale needs to pull his head right now and get over himself. Otherwise, and I don’t usually like to bring up past incidents when a player has tried to move on, but I wouldnt be at all surprised to one day hear about another incident similar to that on the team bus in SA last year with the Rebels.
      The Tahs are not playing as a team. They look like a group of guys who has each been built up to be a star in their own right, not as a team. Each of the backs seemed to be trying to pull off a match winner rather than focussing on the basics or looking around them.

      • Glenn Condell

        Beale is proving that he belongs no closer to the action than 13, if that. Much of the attacking confusion is down to him, no-one knows what he’s doing least of all him, though to be fair he is not getting great front foot ball. Part of Foleys decline can be sheeted home to Beales proximity. Foley can execute a plan but Beale cannot, its all ad lib. Again if both had Nic White’s service theyd look better but Phipps is not entirely to blame, they have been squandering good ball too.

      • MM

        A few years ago I wrote about Beale’s attitude to his team mates when something goes wrong, he did it before he left the Waratahs. It is a problem for the obvious team moral reasons but also because there’s inevitably a karma issue. What he glares at them for he inevitably does himself. Its the skippers job but the skipper doesn’t seem up to it. Time for Hooper to lead them.

      • tah fan

        Yep. Was devastated that we signed him. The guy does not fit into our team.
        He’s also not a 12. Whenever he should straighten up the attack he’ll go to the line and then do one of his spins and either spill the pill when he gets slammed or he’ll get driven back and loose momentum.

  • brumby runner

    As a mostly impartial observer (I did tip the Tahs to win this one) I disagree with quite a few statements in the write-up. First, the game was a long way from being exciting imo. Frustrating would be a more appropriate description. Next, Fat Cat was almost invisible, and did nothing to enhance his recall to the Wallabies. AAC tried hard but was guilty as others were also of pushing the ball in contact and turning possession over. The Tahs as a whole need to learn when to pass the ball to a player in better position and when not to pass the ball when under pressure. Michael Hooper was immense and Potgeiter was very, very good. Skelton tried hard also, but I don’t think any others did their reputations any good in this game. I was disappointed in Cliff Palu’s efforts at the end. Really nowhere as good as he was playing earlier in the year. Hope for the Wallabies that he can find his best form again soon. KB, Dennis and Phipps should be mentioned as having way below par games. The rest were pretty much less than you would have hoped for.

    Tahs were especially disappointing overall and palyed below the standards they had set earlier in the comp.

    • yourmatesam

      I think it’s significant that Israel Folau’s only mention is in the team sheet also. Have the Tahs been shown up as one-trick ponies?

      • Brackets

        I really rate Folau as a player, think he is an outstanding athlete. BUT he needs to prove that he can do more than receive passes in the clear and run through little to no defence to score a try (yes, I know he does have these skills, but are we seeing much of them?) Some of his passes last night were terrible, along with most of his team mates, and he still looks a little lost when he comes across a breakdown as a defensive player. I don’t care what position they play, ALL players should be able to go in at the breakdown after the ball.
        My worry is that unless he is scoring tries he is invisible. Look at the other class fullbacks around and that is rarely the case.

        • Patrick

          He’s been so visible under the high ball that he rarely sees them anymore – but I didn’t see this game.

    • Mark Blackwood

      Completely agree.
      AAC did all the lead up work and made the breaks then continuously let himself down with bad passes or hands. Hopefully this was a one off as his general play before the mistakes was the best i’ve seen from him.
      Beale needed support but was let down by the entire backline. He looked like sh*t because he had to try too hard.
      Horne, Hooper, Potgeiter had good games. That’s about it.

  • jenny craig

    the expression on fat cats face says it all really…

  • Mark

    Just far too many cheap turnovers. Simple as that. Not the first time this season that the Tahs have been hurt in this fashion either.

  • Alan Grouse

    Phipps and McKibbon again showed they are not good enough. Tahs will never win the title with such average nines.

    Goalkicking is another a big problem. Madness that we went for the posts a number of times when it was clear that Foley was not kicking well.

    Handling errors are crazy too. The sharpness and accuracy the team had in the first few games has long abandoned them.
    Really disappointing performance.

    • Bruce

      God Phipps was shocking. He had a knock on, a shoddy pass to cause a knock on, and 2 penalties against him in the first 10 minutes. He’s unwatchable.

  • Hawko

    Good to see that people saw things differently. As a Waratahs fan I was distressed/alarmed/distraught at the quality of play and the manic handling and offloading served up. But the game was intense, the balance ebbed and flowed, there were some great skills on display (Nonu’s double assist for Visinia’s try for example) and both teams went at it hammer and tongs.

    There was plenty for the purist to find frustrating but at the same time there was plenty to like, and the spectators got their money’s worth, The expert observer might be unhappy but for the casual observer there was plenty to like.

  • Canuckruck

    The number of turnovers/handling errors by the Warratahs when they were in a position to put points on the board is what killed them. It was quite frankly a clown show.

    It kind of looked like the Tahs might have arrived at Eden Park wearing red wigs, red noses, and big red oversized shoes, all piling out of the same clown car.

  • Pclifto

    God knows I’ve watched a lot of frustrating Tahs games over the years but this would be up there with the worst.

    I don’t think I’ve seen so many attacking opportunities go begging.

    I think Foley has to take most of the blame for pushing passes and trying to conjure magic from every play. He needs to watch Toomua at work. Foley’s failure to draw and pass the man to put an umarked Horne/Crawford (can’t remember which) away along the wing was appalling.

    Agree Beale had to overplay his hand to try to make up for things so I wouldn’t be singling him out for criticism in this case.

    Whoever said FatCat was invisible has a point, I’m not really sure what he’s in the team for these days… he spends a lot of time teapotting and walking back onside. Could be unfair but that’s how it’s looking.

    I think all in all this is not an unsalvageable situation for the Tahs – but they better shed their butterfingers quick smart AND realise that going to ground, recycling and having another crack is often the best option…

    Very disappointing.

  • Tomikin

    ” Foley got in the clear, put a great kick to Crawford with the tryline open”

    Oh my god.. When does got in the clear and put a cross field kick in ever sound great unless its landing in the try zone and Izzy is contesting it… Forget the fact that the Blues Fullback is ten times better under the ball then Crawford, and it went for a try at the other end..

  • Jamie Miller

    Appalling NSW performance, but nothing surprising. Still a litany of handling errors – yeah, a litany. Continually trying to pop under pressure offloads, with no regard for the risk-reward equation (risk-lose possession entirely, reward – gain a half break). Sub-par goalkicking, continuing on from last year. Poor lineouts, again, evident last year. No mental grit, despite the fact that the match was repeatedly there for the taking if only we could chill out and string together five minutes of error-free rugby. Paddy Ryan trying to play like a rangy running 8 out wide, but passing like a man with two baseball mits on his hand. And of course, there was our new recruit Nick Phipps. Three knock ons, one dumb scrum penalty conceded, a turnover for refusing to clear the ball from the ruck quickly enough, and the usual russian roulette from the base of the ruck – one pass high, one pass low, one pass behind the man… For a real Tahs fan, it was just so frustrating. The Blues are an incredibly limited team, as they’ve showed all season; Piri Weepu said before the game that they’d only strung together “twenty minutes of good footy all season”. And whenever we just put it through the hands, we found easy space. So why, why for the love of God why, did we revert to playing Michael Cheika’s XBox fantasy rugby despite the obvious mismatch with the players’ actual existing skill set? I’m all for playing positive rugby, where you seize the initiative. But you need the foundational skills, you need to be able to control the pace of the game, and you need to be able to, above all, do the simple things well. I think there’s a team down in Canberra showing how it’s done.

    • the pirate

      Yeah agree big time with all this . This was possibly the most frustrating game of rugby I have watched all year , or perhaps it was the Waratahs v Force/ Waratahs v Bulls / Waratahs v Sharks, but you begin to get the common denominator now.
      Personally, as a 47 year old on a computer who never played anywhere near the level of these guys , I don’t like to criticise players and I particularly hate to single them out but fuck me there were some poor individual performances , combined with an overall poor team performance on display by the Waratahs.
      In my humble opinion , and this in no way reflects personally upon anyone nor on their abilities as rugby players, Phipps was poor to the point of being atrocious , Foley was poor in both execution and decision making , Beale constantly overplays his hand , which to some degree overshadows and limits Foley, the forwards , with the exception of Hooper and Potgeiter, were run of the mill , and everyone else pushed the kind of passes that you wouldn’t see 12 yr olds doing on a sunday afternoon game of touch down the local park.
      I appreciate that they believe that if they keep playing an uptempo game it will eventually click, and in all fairness it has for them in the past, but surely you can still play an uptempo game by taking the tackle and recycling for quick phase play if the offload you are attempting doesn’t make the risk/reward balance. I seem to recall many years ago being told as a kid never to pass the ball to someone unless they were in a better position than you were and if that were not the case to take the tackle like a man.
      Poor execution is one thing, it happens as do errors of judgement , but some of the dross on display by the Waratahs yesterday was gobsmacking.
      Ok, so instead of whining like an old tart , what do I think are a few things that need to be looked at? The Foley/Beale thing is not working in my opinion.Yes, when it clicks it is a thing of beauty but I fear that it will only click on quality front foot ball and against rattled opposition. To me it is about as sensible as a convertible , fantastic on a warm sunny day but pretty fucking ordinary at any other time . I would consider keeping Foley and swapping Beale and Horne with Beale being given a roving commission on the wing as JOC used to have for the wallabies or Campo before him.
      Foley needs to rediscover the form he showed last year and start to try and direct the game more and I personally think that having Beale outside him seriously limits his ability to do just that.
      I didn’t think the set piece was that bad, but then again I may not have noticed it with all the other stupidity I was witnessing, so I wouldn’t make any great changes to the forwards .
      One thing I would do , and once again this is not a personal criticism of any kind , is to make Hooper captain instead of Dennis as there seems to be a leadership and direction void . In the same way that the flyhalf needs to take charge of the direction of the team around the paddock I think there needs to be a new captain to take charge and perhaps settle the team down when they are attempting the outrageous.
      I still think they should attempt the outrageous, don’t get me wrong I love the new Waratahs and their fuck die wondering approach but a bit of common sense and a period of settled old fashioned positional and phase play rugby when things aren’t working could do wonders

      • Blinky Bill – camping Tamworth

        Spot on about the leadership.
        One of the NZ commentators made the point that when the passes aren’t sticking – and let’s face it, that can happen – then someone needs to address it on the field by getting the guys to hold onto the ball instead of going for the low% stuff.
        IMO that would have made a huge difference. Maybe even won us the game.

        • Robson

          You’re right, holding on to the ball or passing the bloody thing properly would have netted at least another try and maybe 2. Game won? Maybe. You would have to hope that the Blues wouldn’t have scored again too, but close enough I think.

    • Blinky Bill – camping Tamworth

      Jamie – This was a great read mate. How you’ve managed to get a chuckle out of me based on the depressing stuff I sat through last night, is a mystery. Really enjoyed the Paddy Ryan ‘baseball mitts’ one and the Phipps Russian roulette line was good too. In fact….. Gold!
      In some ways it was apt for Anzac Day don’t you think? I can well imagine the scene on the beaches. Crap happening everywhere and real confusion. And you can bet that someone was cheering up the diggers by cracking jokes. So thanks mate for putting a smile on our dial.

  • Robson

    The Tahs handling lapses was the real hoodo at Eden Park last night. The game of rugby is all about passing and catching the rugby ball. If you can’t get that right at this level of the game, nothing – absolutely nothing – is going to work for you. Yes “the bounce that got away”, when Foley kicked for Crawford’s wing was demoralising, but the Tahs monstered their own scoring chances several times with bad passing and poor handling.

  • Frustrated

    I’m not sure how AAC could be considered waratahs best for this match, he must have turned the ball over at least 6 times.
    Hooper was my pick, 100% effort again with excellent defence strong running and breakdown work. Jackpot also very good.

  • The Cheat

    This game reminded me of when Phipps and Beale were at the Rebels. Playing catchup rugby , Beale gets frustrated and feels he has to take it upon himself to do something magical, then ends up running straight into 2 backrowers and getting turned over. Phipps still can’t hit the side of a barn door and that cross field from foley which the blues scored off was horrendous. hooper and potgeiter were actually good, the rest were average. also how is skelton playing 40 minutes? is he injured. sure hes a giant, but you’ve got to go the distance if you want to play test rugby. compare that to the brumbies match, they played as 15 men, not 1 or 2 heroes (looking at you Beale) and Toomua still had plenty of gas in the tank to score that try. There you have it… a test player!

    • Chris

      I think you’ve pretty much nailed it. What I’ve seen is Beale wanting to play 10 and the skipper and coach letting him get away with it. Foley on song directs the attack far better. I almost hope Beale is injured and Horne or Lance (?) plays 12 so the outside backs get a decent look in. Phipps isn’t producing what we hoped in terms of play or leadership. He and Beale appear to be leading the panic brigade. Benn has racked his cue. Dennis is a lovely guy but struggling as skipper. Hooper leads by example but might be a bit too hot-headed to wear the armband. Who else? Someone mentioned leadership void and I think they might be right too.
      All in all I suspect another season is down the toilet. Given the success of the Force, we would have to assume Foley wasn’t the problem!

  • Dean

    This game was rated a Hot Pie? More like a Dropped Pie.

  • Bob

    Two dads had his worst game for the tahs ever and was pulled for it. FACT. Phipps should be stamped never to play for tahs again. He puts zero pressure near the ruck and shovels most passes out late and slow. Mckibben is a better option for us. Imagine genia or white behind that pack.

  • Richard 9

    Your spot on ‘Yourmatesam’. This will be the third time i have made this comment. The ‘Tahs’ dont listen to what ‘Cranky Cheika’ has to say anymore and haven’t for about a month now. The ranting and raving, yelling ang finger pointing goes on and on and they have switch off. You can take so much of this style the enough is enough. Some players will still put up with it , others won’t , and so the the disharmony continues onto the field.
    I said last the ‘Tahs’ start well and have scored in the first 3 minutes or less (same last night) but denied the try, then do nothing for the next 20 tp 25 minutes. I said they cant do that against the KIWI sides coming up. Last night was proof of that. Does every Tah fan out there know ‘Cranky Chieka’s’ record since last year ? Well its 11 losses and 12 wins. I think Michael Foley had a better record with NSW.

    • Dally M

      Yep, and it’s still as valid as the last 3 times you said it.

      Oh that’s right, a player who Cheika cut last season gave you the good oil on this story didn’t he!

  • Douglas

    What a disappointing game – as a Reds fan I felt quite at home watching it though, it was about the same level of frustration and disappointment we’ve become accustomed to.

    Nick Phipps was woeful, once you notice how bad he is it’s hard to stop noticing. Hooper and Jackpot were great, the rest were just very average to very poor.

  • RubberLegs

    As a Reds fan I was surprised when NSWRU bought Phipps (too mechanical); a couple of experienced forwards need to push Nick out of the way and pick it up and run, without dropping it. Nick does not pause to look to see who is in the best position to go forward. Sanchez looks for the best option and often runs from the ruck base to commit some defenders. It’s a sad day for Aussie rugby when Sir John out coaches one of our own.

  • tah fan

    This was frustrating to watch. The Blues weren’t exciting but the tahs were woeful. Pushing the pass and trying to offload too many times when it wasn’t on.
    Also can’t help but feel that if you have such movement of the ball like the tahs had in the forwards, you’re backs aka number 12 could straighten up the attack once in a while. Aac does that and made huge meters every time.

    Felt like this game told me horne needs to go to 10. Simplify things at the starts. Beale cam come finish the job off the bench.

    Also beale turning around while taking the ball into contact always made it easier for the blues to dominate and drive him back. Was frustrating watching him try ballet instead of going to ground and recycling the ball

    • tah fan

      Horne needs to go to 12*

      • Mart

        I didn’t understand why Horne got put on the wing a few weeks ago anyway. It really bothers me when you throw a player in out of position just to fill a position. You need finishers on the wings and that couldn’t be more evident when Horne got put into a gap and couldn’t quite finish it.

        And could someone pleeeeaaaase remind Cheika and Foley and whoever’s running the backline, that the cross field kick to Izzy needs to be brought out of the bag!!! Especially when running the ball non stop isn’t quite cutting it.

  • Nutta

    I saw two different Sydney subbies games yesterday. One was 4th division and the other 2nd division. The play was relatively uninspiring in that there were no boolean mathematics lineout combinations, no man-mountain scrum smashers, no mungo-style obstruction lines, no Campo-esque be-dazzling foot-work and surely no Larkham-like back line combinations.

    But bugger me the simple things were done well – a couple of clear lineout options with direct throws, simple running lines with guys in recognisable support, kicks went out, passes went generally in-front of the man and regardless of size and ability guys generally threw themselves in front of opponents defensively in a “You shall not pass” style.

    Sure there were knock-ons, brain-fades and fk-ups. After all it is Subbies…

    But the point was they played simply, directly and didn’t over-complicate. As a result they were honestly bloody good games of rugby to watch.

    I think my entertainment preference is changing from the screen to the local paddock… Give me honest toil over that generates recognisable results over cubic zirconas that aren’t worth shite any day.

  • goaussieconference

    Agree with the comments on Beale I won’t even have him on the bench against France, also i think Hooper deserves as much praise as we are giving him. On a side note i think Potgeiter has played himself into Bokke contention

  • Dally M

    I also loved the traditional shoulder charge from Nonu right at the death, that went unpunished as usual

NSW Waratahs

Grew up watching Catchpole and Hawthorne, then later the Ella brothers, on Channel Two on Saturday afternoon. Expert commentary by Cyril Towers. No better rugby education ever to be had.

More in NSW Waratahs