Review: Sharks vs Waratahs - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Review: Sharks vs Waratahs

Review: Sharks vs Waratahs

In the lead-up to the game there was just one thing on everyone’s mind: Would the Waratah scrum hold up enough to allow the Waratahs running game to dominate?

The Match


Both teams lined up in a very windy stadium with the wind behind the Waratahs in the first half. All kick-offs went deep because of the swirling wind with several kicks finding the grass.

Waratahs were first to score when the Stormers knock-backs finally went in goal for a 5 metre scrum. Gordon scooted, try converted by Foley 7-0. Next score was a Sharks penalty after desperate Waratah defence, 7-3. Then the Sharks scored a spectacular try off some Waratah mistakes to make it 10-7. Later in the half the Waratahs got a couple of penalties in good positions and finally Foley kicked a goal to square it up at 10-10. It stayed that way till half time, but only just as Mtawarira was held up by Folau on the line. Two line-saves in two weeks!

Just before half time Beale went off injured, replaced by Newsome. No news on the severity. The Sharks appeared to be on top and would turn with the wind at their backs.


There was plenty of back and forth, mistakes galore, Kellaway was having a mare. A brilliant run from Lukhanyo Am, the Shark 13, saw him score again close to the posts, converted by du Preez. Sharks 17-10. Shortly after Foley made a ridiculous forward pass to Newsome in a threatening position. Then Wells knocked on in a good position. Kellaway was replaced by Hegarty with Folau going to the wing.Another great run by the Sharks through the centres but their winger knocked on. Tawaki came on to replace Ryan and Palmer to replace Holloway. Not sure Wells didn’t deserve a rest more than Hollaway, given his errors with the ball.

The Sharks took a quick throw by Daniel but it went majorly wrong and Robertson collected and passed to Hooper who cleared out to score. Foley converted for 17-17. The Waratahs then went up a gear and looked likely to run away with it but then made an error; scrum and scrum penalty to Sharks as expected. Curwin Bosch tried a 55 metre penalty but missed to the side.

A bad Foley pass caused more mayhem. The Waratahs scrum was under serious pressure and two scrums in a row the ball was won but kicked back by the second row and turned over. There was excellent Waratah defence to clear their lines. Mitch Short came on for Gordon and immediately ran straight through the Sharks lineout but a Waratah mistake again caused a breakdown.

The Sharks then scored after another Waratah mistake. Short dropped a pass he should have taken, the ball went to Louw who chipped, regathered and passed to du Preez who ran in to score and converted his own try. At 70 minutes you sensed it was game over. Sharks 24-17. But Foley, Foketi, Hegarty and Short combined to score a great try in the corner. Foley converted 24-24 with two minutes to go.

Both sides had chances to open it up, Curwin Bosch tried a drop goal, Sharks had a scrum on the 22 but the Waratahs cleared and then after the 80 the Sharks knocked on. Game over, a kissing-your-sister draw.


The scrum is still a disaster and Tawaki is not the answer. Kepu has to fly to Argentina otherwise the Jaguares scrum will bury the Waratahs scrum completely. Gibson has learnt nothing from the Ta’avao experience in 2016.

The mistake/turnover rate was ridiculously high. Surely Kellaway has played himself out of the 23. Thankfully the Sharks played with similar carelessness. Foley was error-ridden this week despite his match-saving conversion kicking. Foketi played very well and was probably the Waratahs best, though Rona, Newsome, Hegarty and Gordon were all good. In the forwards Hooper and Hanigan were good and Robertson better than last week. Wells made too many mistakes and Holloway did some good things. Ryan was a penalty magnet. Palmer impressed, Staniforth was quite solid but his carries were ineffective. This was not a great overall performance.


Daniel had a nightmare game and overall the Sharks probably made as many mistakes as the Waratahs. Their scrum is better than the Waratahs but their lineout, particularly in the first half, was poor. They have some good backs – du Preez is all class and Lukhanyo Am is a star attacker but not so good a defender. Bosch and Mvovo were sometimes good and sometimes bad at the back.


Neither team showed much potential to make the finals because they have similar basic weaknesses. They are both trying to play helter-skelter rugby without the necessary skillsets. The Waratahs forwards lack skills, as do the Sharks backs. There was tension aplenty tonight but not a lot of good rugby.

The Game Changer

In the end, there wasn’t one. Both teams conspired to completely wreck their own momentum by a knock-on, forward pass or some other brain snap.


Not too many standouts. Foketi and Hanigan were probably best for the Waratahs and du Preez and Lukhanyo Am for the Sharks. Official MotM was Lukhanyo Am.

Wallaby watch

Ned Hanigan is starting to show some power and mongrel. He may yet prove the doubters wrong.

The Details

Crowd: Unknown, but small. Why would you schedule the game at the same time as a SA-Australia cricket test? Surely a night game was a better option?

Score & Scorers

Sharks 24
Tries: Lukhanyo Am (2), du Preez
Conversions: du Preez (3)
Penalties: du Preez (1)
Waratahs 24
Tries: Gordon, Hooper, Short
Conversions: Foley (3)
Penalties: Foley (1)

Cards & citings

None. Its clear after three rounds that deliberate knock-downs are no longer considered cardable.

  • Dean

    for the wallabies 10 to not be able to pass straight is an absolute joke. multiple try saving opportunities gone to S###! because he can’t do his fundamentals properly! #NSW-WALLABIESNEEDANEW10

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    My sense is that Gibbo has that rare ability to make average punters seem like experts. For fans, the scrum was always an area of major concern for the Tahs and guess what?

    • Fatflanker

      I can only assume Gibbo has unselfishly agreed to back Cheika’s longer-term development plan for several Tah forwards. Ballsy – his own coaching career is hanging on this season’s results.

      • Brisneyland Local

        I think there might be a few coaches in that situation.

  • Fatflanker

    A draw was probably a slightly harsh result for the Sharks but both teams will be kicking themselves for letting the win get away. Tahs scrum was certainly under pressure for most of the match but did better than most would have expected going into this game…no procession of push-over tries and no tight heads conceded, (technically anyway). I also thought the Sharks backs just edged it – fast and dangerous with a slick off-loading game that got them over the advantage line almost routinely. Good preparation game for the Jaguares next week who will hold no fear of knocking on or chancing their arm on the off-loads.

    Credit to the officials who had a good game and reffed fairly – missed a fairly blatant late hit on Folau but weren’t looking for excuses to give the game to the home team.

    • The stats will probably record only one scrum win against the head for the Sharks, but there were several where they ended up with the penalty or possession. The Sharks dished up the Waratahs and yet had been dished up themselves by the Lions in the first round. A good scrum will demolish the Waratah pack unless Gibson makes the necessary changes.

      I agree about the reffing. I don’t like Peyper normally, but I thought he was almost unseen in this game and that’s a sign of a good ref performance. There was a lot of whistle only because there were a lot of mistakes.

      • Ed

        After the Jaguares, the Tahs have the Rebels, Brums and Moondogs.
        Then their scrum has the Reds (best scrum in Oz), the Lions followed by four kiwi sides – Blues, Saders, Landers and Chiefs followed by the Reds again. So if the Tahs have not improved their scrum work before the Reds game, then it will be a tough seven match stretch for the the NSW pack.

        • Brumby Runner

          That looks like it could be a nightmare patch of games.

        • Xaviera

          I thought the scrum improved when Tawake came on. Paddy Ryan seems to have too many technical issues, but a few changes and it will look quite different.

          Let’s assume Tawake and Kepu as props, then either Fitzy (who has been playing well, with MoTM in Sydney), or Latu (if fit). All of a sudden, that looks more solid.

          Then add Simmons into the second row, most likely with Staniforth, but possibly Palmer or Hanigan, and things improve. I’m not a huge Simmons fan, but his work in the scrum is solid.

          Then the back row. I like Holloway at 8 – big unit, rampaging ball runner, and we’re seeing hints of his 2016 form. Hooper on one side, then either Wells or Hanigan on the other.

          Overall, that’s a much better looking pack, and will give Palmer, Ranga and others a bit more time to develop. Ranga’s only 20, and I thought he did OK when he came on, so I expect he’ll improve with time, and a few raids on the pie factory. Sadly, we won’t have that pack for the pussies, which is a worry, so we may have to wait for the Rebels match in Sydney.

      • Huw Tindall

        Only glimmer of hope is Kepu back next week. Hope he has been training the house down while suspended.

        • OnTheBurst

          Kepu isn’t travelling to Argentina. Won’t be back until the following match vs the Rebels

        • Huw Tindall

          God help us all

  • Brisneyland Local

    G’day GAGR’s. Well just returned from ym Sunday morning ride, it is bloody hot and muggy in Brissy today. Have just watched the replay, and I must say another dissapointing game for an Aussie team. I must say if it wasnt for the Kiwi games to remember what exciting rugby looked like I would have forgotten. BL’s comments:
    – Both teams were in it the whole game, but neither seemed capable of stepping up to the plate and grabbing it.
    – The Tarts scrum is bloody terrible. Imagine if you put the Reds forwards with the Tarts backs. You might actually have a team.
    – Other than his place kicking Foley was bloody terrible. How the fuck is this guy the incumbent 10 for the Wallabies. Holy shit bags!
    – I think if this contnues Gibbo will be lucky to keep his job. Where as Thorn has only just started in will probably get a season to turn things around, Gibbo is on wood now.
    – I might be made to eat my words on Neddy. And will be happy to do so if he keeps improving like he does. Credit where credit is due.
    – Lucky the Sharks made a ton of errors, because so far this season, the Aussie teams are making soooooooo many errors. We need Mick the Kick to be doing more and more with our SR teams. Because we are rehashing 2017 at the moment.
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      It seems as though they are all pushing the ball too much. They don’t seem to have the patience to build up a try and tbh don’t really seem to have any options. The plan seems to be “get the ball to Beale and Folau, then sit back and watch them do something”
      I agree Foley was very average, it shits me that with nothing to do except train he just doesn’t get better. Gibson is lucky there’s no NZ teams until later in the season so he can continue to play 2nd rate for a while. Phipps must be getting worried, if I was him I’d be asking my agent to look overseas

      • Brisneyland Local

        Happy Sunday KRL. Yep, I think their lack of patience comes from lack of confidence and lack of skills. So they push, and as the old saying goes “So like the fingers through the toilet paper, so are the days of our lives!” I.E. You push to hard you end up in the shit!
        Foley is crap and not getting better, when his kicking works his passing is crap and vice versa! His in play kicking has never been good!
        Phipps is goneski!

    • Fatflanker

      I’m actually finding these first few games quite exciting – probably due to a combination of the close scores and grimly anticipating the next calamitous mistake.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Thats a really good point.

  • Mart

    I don’t think i have ever seen a game with more dropped ball. Even in the wet

  • Greg

    Just watch the highlights and thought it was an interesting last try. I think the last pass was forward and others were “very flat”.

    The tackle went high as the try was scored. From last week’s example, if the try had not been scored, it would have been a penalty try and a yellow card.

    • Huw Tindall

      Yeah thought it strange nobody mentioned it during the game, especially as it was scored out wide making the conversion tricky, the 7 point penalty try would have been a great result!

  • Patrick

    We need a new poll: how many excavators will be needed to dig the Tahs’ front row out of the turf after next week’s game?

  • Bay35Pablo

    Sounds similar to Tahs against Stormers. Tahs get the ball, get a roll on then stuff up.
    If we can eliminate or at least educe mistakes we might be OK, or at least then able to concentrate on fixing the set piece issues with the scrum.

  • LED

    “Ned Hanigan is starting to show some power and mongrel. He may yet prove the doubters wrong.”

    Not sure I agree here. The Sharks got two critical turnovers from Hannigan missing his clean outs that I can remember and there may have been more that I cant. He hits but slides off the poacher regularly without budging him. There are now too many examples of this when you include his Wallabies performances from last year where we were constantly being turnover at the ruck with Hannigan making it there first but ending up being completely ineffective.

    He’s a big lad – theres no excuse but poor technique for this and it happens regularly.

    • Goose Step Ghandi

      Agreed, I need to see so much more from this guy.

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.

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