Match review of Waratahs vs Chiefs 2013
NSW Waratahs

Review: Waratahs boss Chiefs

Review: Waratahs boss Chiefs

The HSBC Waratahs came back from the depths of despair against the Chiefs to take the lead with three minutes to go at Allianz Stadium, then held on to win 25-20.

It didn’t seem likely: the Chiefs had taken the lead with with nine minutes to go and the Waratahs looked exhausted from all the defending they had to do. But after the Chiefs missed a long penalty kick from their own half, the Tahs restarted play on their 22, regathered the ball, and twelve phases and 80 seconds later scored under the posts at the other end of the park.

The Match

The Waratahs had bossed an out-of-sorts Chiefs team in the first half and led 15-0, but then came two unfortunate events for the Tahs: first, somebody sounded the siren for half-time, which stopped their momentum; and second, Sitaleki Timani tackled Tim Nanai-Williams in the general area of Tim’s mouthguard, and got the yellow card he deserved. It was three minutes into the second half.

Cam Crawford - strong debut

Cam Crawford – strong debut

Maybe it was because their opponents were a man short, or maybe it was because their coach Dave Rennie had given them the mother of all tongue-lashings at half-time – or maybe it was just the vibe, but it looked like the Chiefs had trotted out a different team for the second half.

They looked like a side that had won the Super Rugby tournament the year before, which they had. As much as the home team had all the hardness, skill, patience and confidence before oranges, so the visitors played afterwards.

The Tahs started the game with a hiss and a roar and some of their first-half moves looked like training exercises.

Brendan McKibbin had kicked a penalty goal early and at 14 minutes Adam Ashley-Cooper burst between two defenders and dished out to winger Cam Crawford, who was delighted to score on debut. But McKibbin missed the easy conversion; 8-0 Waratahs.

Adam Ashley-Cooper

Adam Ashley-Cooper – marvelous attacking game

Apart from a few raids by the Chiefs towards Campo’s Corner, the Waratahs dominated the first half through aggressive defence, imaginative attack and good scrummaging. It was made easier because the Chiefs were on their heels a lot watching the play. The Tahs weren’t scoring, mind you; but at 37 minutes fly-half Bernard Foley cross-kicked perfectly to Israel Folau, who beat two defenders in the air and scored under the posts.

So, 15-0 at half-time to the Waratahs, and the Chiefs’ stars hadn’t done a lot.

[Drew Mitchell (Waratahs) injured his hamstring and Peter Betham replaced him after six minutes. At 14 minutes Tim Nanai-Williams (Chiefs) came on for Andrew Horrell, who broke his ankle.]

Then came the second-half Chiefs with the vibe – and the Tah’s yellow card. At 46 minutes the Tahs’ lineout misfired from 35 metres out from their line, Aaron Cruden ran through a gap and the Chiefs’ best player, reserve fullback Gareth Anscombe, got the ball and said ‘G’day’ to Folau as he passed him by, and scored.

Tameifuna (right) - scored arsey try

Ben Tameifuna (right) – arsey

In the next 25 minutes the Chiefs kicked two penalty goals to one, which made the score at 70 minutes, Waratahs 18 – Anscombe 13. The Tahs were still in the lead but they were doing a lot of hard defensive work and looked down and out.

That was when 137 -kilogram THP Ben Tameifuna got the ball two metres out from the Tahs’ goal line and after a sidestep, a jink, and a fend, scored an arsey try. After the conversion it was 20-18 Chiefs.

That signaled the end of the Chiefs’ vibe. The vibe switched sides; the Tahs trusted the systems they had put in place and worked their way up the field. Reserve hooker John Ulugia, of all people, elbowed Folau out of the way and took Foley’s pass to score the winning try.

The Presser

Waratahs’ captain Dave Dennis mentioned that in the 45-to-70 minutes period the Waratahs had trouble playing in the Chiefs’ half. The Tahs had to be smart about it and think more about tactical kicking and doing it well. They had to get a balance and not become predictable.

Coach Michael Cheika said:

We’re actually better at getting in the other team’s half by running as opposed to kicking.  When we try to game manage a little bit, we’re no good at it.

We’re not a real game-managing team […] we’ll play our style for now, until we get really good at it, then maybe after that we can think of throwing a few different things in.

The Game Changer

At 75 minutes and the score Chiefs 20 – Waratahs 18, the Tahs dropped out from their 22 and Cam Crawford recovered the ball.  That started a series of twelve phases over 80 seconds, and John Ulugia scored the winning try.


israel folou profileThough his goal kicking was skew for a change the Chiefs reserve fullback Gareth Anscombe confused defenders to score the Chiefs’ first try and ran things well from the back.

Adam Ashley-Cooper had a marvelous attacking game for the Waratahs and made a break that lead to the try of Cam Crawford, who had a strong debut.  The pack deserves mention for scrummaging well: it often had the back of the Chiefs’ scrum pointing in a direction they didn’t want it to.

But the G&GR MOtM gong goes to Israel Folau who made a defensive blunder but made up for it by being dangerous with his swerve, fend and offloading most times he had the ball.

Wallaby watch

Folau is firming as a Wallaby candidate for the Spring Tour and Ashley-Cooper is making it difficult for other Aussie outside centre candidates to be chosen for the Lions’ gig.

LHP Benn Robinson had no trouble in the scrums against a THP who outweighed him by 25 kilograms, and is also making it hard for his rivals.

Kane Douglas was another Wallaby who put up his hand for inclusion against the Lions.

The Details

Crowd:  15,451

Score & Scorers

Waratahs:  25
Tries: Cam Crawford, Israel Folau, John Ulugia
Conversions: Brendan McKibbin, Bernard Foley
Penalties: McKibbin (2)

Chiefs:  20
Tries:  Gareth Anscombe, Ben Tameifuna
Conversions: Anscombe (2)
Penalties: Anscombe (2)

Cards & citings

Sitaleki Timani – Yellow Card (43 mins.)

Referee: Craig Joubert

Featured photo by AFPhotography


  • Madflyhalf

    Finally AAC back to 2010 form!
    Simply amAzing! Second best 13 in world rugby now.

    Solid in defence, brilliant in attack and a good partnership with an industrious Rob Horne, who’s settling well at 12.

    Anscombe broke through due to outnumber wide, so not a great error for AAC, I found Folau’s tackle attempt the worst defensive effort ever!

    Wallabies desperately need a strong and settled midfield partnership

    • I really hope you aren’t suggesting an AAC/Horne partnership for the Wallabies. There are better insides in every other team in Australia than Horne but I do agree AAC is playing well at the moment. Although I will say he needs to stop being so lazy around the tackle/ruck area and get out of there. He gave away a few penalties by just lying around slowing the ball down for no good reason tonight

      • But with Horne in the team of the week nearly every week, it’s impossible to ignore that form!

        • bill

          Horne is at his best at incentre but he’s not our best, he’s got a lot of work to do to even come close to Taps. Who knows what he’d be like without that injury history.

          AAC is playing well, but he deserved a yellow this game for the attack of the vapours he kept suffering on Chiefs’ ruck ball.

          Incidentally how on earth was Leonard not awarded a penalty try on the quick tap. It may have been a soft way to give up a try but it wouldn’t have been a soft decision.

        • Not sure about the Leonard try. If they had been on side would he of scored? It was great to see a few side entries at rucks penalised.

        • bill

          That’s an odd inerpretation of the rulebook Sully, surely it isn’t that soft on defenders.

          re side entries, that Scott flagged, nice to see they were both pretty blatant as well, not just rule of the week stuff.

        • Graeme

          I think Hooper stopped the penalty try. I haven’t got a replay, but I think it was him who was behind the line and made the final hold up tackle. Otherwise it should have been a penalty try.

        • bill

          Well done him if he did. From what Jouber’s was saying to Messam’s query he thought it was illegal but not cynical.

      • Graeme

        I don’t know what will happen with Horne once Barnes comes back. I think Horne s been playing well but he definitely fits in behind Barnes at 12, and AAC is a shoe-in at 13 on current form

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          I know we would all like to see Rob Horne pass the ball more but to be honest I’m liking what I’m seeing from him, mostly. Given time at 12 I’d expect him find his feet and really improve his combination with Foley & AAC.

          To me Barney’s love of booting away the ball – usually down the throat of an opposition player – is the opposite of how we want to play.

        • Please not Barnes. Not again. Go away.

      • Madflyhalf

        No not with Horne, I think Taps’ still the best 12 Wallabies can have, though a little in shadow in the match with the Brumbies, but he is the in form 12 of Australia.

        Since Dingo stuck with him, the line started looking good, I’m sorry for McCabe whose heart and balls are bigger than anyone’s else, but he isn’t what Wallabies need.
        A playmaking 12. Solid, big, but that can use his hands also to pass the ball, not just to hold it.

  • Noisey

    Anscombe is going from strength to strength, great to watch. Folau building confidence at a rate of knots. AAC in form. But both sets of forwards were the ones to watch last night. Now off to Suncorp to watch another set of match ups across the park. Shit I love this game!

    • Guy

      AAC is in form. But can someone work on his passing confidence. Please

      • Barbarian

        Snore. AAC passes just fine. Can’t say I saw any instances where he should have passed but didn’t. No point shovelling shit to your outside men, and more often than not at 13 your best option is to truck it up over the gain line.

      • Richo

        The worst was when he threw that perfect pass to put Crawford over.

  • bill

    Wonderful first half from the tah’s arguably the prettiest 40 mins by an aus side this year.

    It’s making me uncomfortable though, I’m used to watching 40 min of them and then finding something more entertaining to do with my time. Couldn’t do that yeserday.

    Poor 2nd half though. The Chiefs may have pulled their heads out of their bum but they were still making enough mistakes that the tahs shouldn’t have gone from hare to tortoise. The Chiefs always looked vulnerable toTurning point of the match, well half time really but in terms of outcome taking the penalty shot at 75mins, I don’t think the rugby gods like teams that stop playing rugby and try to sandbag.

    Still, 1st half,the tahs kept the width and tempo up but never looked out of control or frantic, and looked good at possession security. Awesome stuff.

    Folau is earning his raps, but it’s disconcerting hearing the gushing from the commentators when he does something right, but when screws up they go deathly quiet and refuse to talk. Do your job guys, I’m sure Folau won’t break into tears and I doubt he thinks he doesn’t have stuff to work on. Spring tour looks about right for him.

    • bill

      edit^….vulnerable to me. Turning point of the match? …

      • You should be able to edit your posts BIll. If you’re signed in.

    • “Prettiest 40 mins by an aus side this year”, I think you may have forgotten Brumbies vs Sharks……

    • “arguably the prettiest 40 mins by an aus side this year.”

      Perhaps if you only watch one side.

      • bill

        I’m a Reds fan, so mostly I watch them. I said prettiest because while they did well the Chiefs didn’t do much to stop them. I think the Reds and Brumbies have had better halves.

        I like to pay the tahs some credit for playing a better style of footy than they have been for….quite a long time, for some reason I don’t feel the need to get jealous about the Reds.

      • Phil

        Coming from the most one-eyed poster here,what a joke1

  • It was so good to watch the Tah’s play entertaining rugby. As long as the Reds beat them in our return match of course. We don’t want them getting too many points.

  • Josh

    Lol Folau firming for a ‘Spring Tour spot’, if he wasn’t an exleaguie we’d be calling for him to get picked for them now!

    • Pedro

      I agree, I’m a brumbies supporter, but that was the best game by an Australian outside back this season. The try was great, but the offloading was incredible.

      • Lee Grant

        The off-loading was great wasn’t it – and what have the Chiefs missed recently?

        SBW and his off-loads.

        Stay with us Izzy – don’t go back to the Dark Lord.

        • With the real rugby world cup on the horizon and the opportunity to become a genuine worldwide star, he would be a fool to leave.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    Loved this line Lee “The Tahs started the game with a hiss and a roar and some of their first-half moves looked like training exercises”. Dead right. It was so polished that it had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief.

    If I’m honest I didn’t expect us to beat the Chiefs (even at home) but the way we started last night really gave me hope. Then came the second half and I didn’t know if it was a Chiefs fightback or whether we had simply shot our bolt and that was all she wrote.

    In the last 40 there was some moments of God awful defense mixed with some great last second defense (Izzy & Hoops take a bow) and what looked like a return to the bad old days with our 10 kicking the ball back to the opposition, and you sensed the game slipping away. Fortunately normal transmission resumed long enough for us to close out the match with a great try by the big fella (so he can catch). But it was a very close call.

    IMHO the biggest difference this week was the energy (at most times) of our pack. More of our big units were sharing the load by working harder. This allowed Hoops to be quicker & stronger at the breakdown & in defense. He made some crucial turnovers & was in there holding up the ball over our try line.

    During the week Cheika asked his forwards to lift and they responded with some barging runs, a line-out steal, solid defense & a solid scrum. We just need to sort out our restarts.

    • Lee Grant

      “IMHO the biggest difference this week was the energy (at most times) of our pack.”

      Exactly right. Their energy flagged under constant pressure when the Chiefs got the vibe in the second half but they somehow found a reserve of strength. Even against the Canes you could see the resolve and good fitness to allow a comeback in the second half.

      Let’s start the season now.

      But talk is cheap – let’s see how they go as strangers in a strange land at Loftus.

      • Bay35Pablo

        “they somehow found a reserve of strength”

        That extra fitness is paying off. I was disgusted last year early on last season when we played the Clan, and after beating us MacIntosh came off and said they’d thought they’d get over us in that. And he was right – they did. How a team with our resources can get fitness wrong, especially after having been good on it for so many years, was flabbergasting.

        Hopefully normal service has been resumed for the next 10-20 years.

    • Guy

      We have had a few matches where you can see the polish swinging the ball side to side (80% Foley, 20% others); but i do think at times they are being robotic about it and push passes or lines that shouldn’t have been pushed. Its all coming together slowly though, and i love it.

    • Lee Grant

      “If I’m honest I didn’t expect us to beat the Chiefs (even at home) but the way we started last night really gave me hope.”

      Agree – The idiot who did the G&G match preview and said “Chiefs by 10″ needs a kick up the arse. Where do they get these people???

      • Lee Grant

        PS – The idiot was me.

  • jay-c

    probably the proudest moment ive had being a tahs fan in five years
    they played like a team and all the big name players stood up!

    • Lee Grant

      Yeah it was great.

      A perfect day, really. Two pies from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels at Woolloomooloo on the way to the ground, a magic first half of entertaining rugby and a stirring comeback.

      It doesn’t get much better than that.

  • Mark

    How is nobody talking about Foley’s game? I thought he was close to best on ground for the Tahs. Finally it looks like they have a creative attacking 5/8 who can make and use space! His impact on the game was huge.

    • redbull

      This is baffling to me as well. The Tahs appear finally to have a genuine home-grown fly-half and he will be lucky to get mentioned in game wrap-ups. Unbelievable.

    • Lee Grant

      Good point Mark. Apart from that kick out of the full Foley didn’t do a lot wrong, yet did a hell of a lot right. He is also playing a passing game close to the tackle line, of the type that Bernie Larkham played and Quade Cooper does now.

      That means that if the receiver of the pass has aimed himself at a potential gap and/or the inside shoulder of a defender sneaking wide, a linebreak is ‘on’.

      As with Cooper at the Reds, he needs the runners doing those things, or else it doesn’t work.

      This is what used to piss me off with the Tahs – they did things too deep and made these elegant moves that had defenders yawning waiting for the contact. Beale had the same problem with Tahs’ receivers not running onto to receive the ball flat to the tackle line and they were too-often running towards touch anyway. And this was mostly under Link.

      Yeah Foley is the catalyst that Cheika needs. In a way I would have liked Barnes to be fit from the start of the season in a parallel universe so Cheika could have bullied him into becoming a better player.

      Foley already showed signs of such a game against the Canes but it he laced it with some blunders including poor kicks,

      Of course that ideal game is only possible with a pack of forwards who show up to play because otherwise the scrummie, literally, can’t deliver, and the flyhalf has to scramble. The great Bernie could sometimes make the flat game work in bad circumstances, but he was a genius.

      But I digress – Foley will be getting mentions if he keeps playing like that because people will be looking at the root causes of success.

      This Tahs’ team was still doing it this year but the tide has changed.


      • Lee Grant

        Oops – ignore the last bits after ‘success’. I failed to proof read.

    • Guy

      I’m with you on that. Foley is the real deal. His has all the passes, kicks, and steps a fly needs, and knows exactly (almost) when to use which. If he can keep showing up like he has all season, there is no way he can be overlooked for a November Holiday up north…

      • Bay35Pablo

        I had some peanut (actually, “grub” – he’ll know what I mean) carrying on how foley was garbage. I had to chew y tongue off after disagreeing intially, when he kept going on.
        Foley is as you say a good home grown 5/8. Hallelejah!!!! I can see the promised land!!!!

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Bay – I assume you were at the game. Can you fill us in on the feel of it all on the night from where you sat?

          I’m curious if the crowd was as enthusiastic as they appeared on the tele. Only just over 15,000 (I believe) but were my ears deceiving me when I thought I heard them getting involved?

          No doubt Tah fans have had their hearts broken too many times and some won’t want to go out on a date ever again. I’d love for the boys to sense that the crowd is right behind them. I think they have now earned that right.

        • I was there and can confirm that the crowd was going ape. A first half performance like that will get anyone involved!

          One thing you may not get on TV is the intake of breath every time Folau gets near the ball. It’s palpable

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Thanks for that Matt. Much appreciated.

          TV is way better than nothing but of course nothing beats being there in the flesh & taking in the smell and sound of it all.

          My hope is for Tah fans to one day be as loud and proud as they are in Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra & Perth. Tahs may well be 3rd on the Aussie ladder but IMHO we’re a sad 5th in crowd support. Or am I way off there?

    • Totally agree! Folau was brilliant. His try was
      utter class and im dying to see more of it as I really cant think of another
      player who could compete with him at jumping for a cross-filed ball. Its
      inevitable his doubters will point at his poor defense for Anscombe’s try but
      he also made some very telling ones, in particular a certain try saver. With
      Mogg being injured lately, is there presently a more in form aussie 15 then

      It was the best performance by the Tahs this
      year. The big boys of Palu, Two Dads, Hooper and Tatafu really stood up and the
      team looked a completely different side because of it. The defense was both
      brilliant and bollox at times, if they could throw in a little more consistency
      they would trouble a few more sides yet.

      Despite a few silly penalties Hooper was pretty
      fantastic too. LOVED how Chieka acknowledged the work he was doing and that he was
      probably carrying other guys. This proves just what little BS he will tolerate
      and the high expectations he has of the players, all giving me good feelings on the future
      and direction of the club

  • Mountain Man

    What’s the law on players taking out defenders to open up an attacking channel close to the ruck? Seems pretty dodgy to me. Also seems like the Kiwis specialise in it.

    • Guy

      They have been without doubt training for it for a few years now. It is clear and obvious. It needs to be stopped. More guys are ‘cleaned’ that are not even in a ruck than are, all the while standing in the way on the wrong side of the ruck…

      • Mountain Man

        On a Chiefs move that fortunately went wrong (dropped ball) Meesam took out 2 players to open up a channel. It was obviously a very cynical and rehearsed move. Hooper was clearly remonstrating with him afterwards and the commentators said nothing. The refs need to get onto this and to stop it. Why should you be allowed to “clean out” a player who isn’t attached to a ruck or a maul when its simply tackling someone without the ball?

    • Bay35Pablo

      Glad in not the only one thinking that. Saafies seem to have something similar in standing around the opposite side of the ruck to inhibit the 9. Plus staying in the ruck on the wrong side

    • Lee Grant

      It is the new blight on the game and was pioneered by Rodney So’oialo who would actually pull players out of the ruck when standing on their side of it. Just ask George Smith: he complained to the ref once in a Bledisloe match that the Wallabies couldn’t get to their own ruck because Rodders was always in the way.

      It’s part of rugby evolution. Once the ruck crackdown on going off feet, or otherwise spoiling the attacking ball, was implemented, before the 2011Super season IIRR, players and especially backrowers had to improvise.

      Rodders was ahead of his time.

      McCaw, the cleverest of them all, had to replace the “Snake” tackle where he slid down the attackers” side of the ball in the act of tackling, which wasn’t considered illegal because “he couldn’t get out of the way” once he completed his tackle. Refs weren’t penalising tacklers for what they did before they hit the deck.

      Now referees are pinging guys for tackling in a way that gets them on the wrong side of the ruck when they get to ground. ”Can’t get out of the way” is no defence now, but commentators keep rabbiting on about it..

      In effect they are pinging guys for what they are doing before the tackle is completed They won’t mention that because it’s not in any law book, but it is a good convention for them to use, in my eyes..

      Anyway, McCaw came up with the “McCaw Mosey” where he stumbled around ‘accidentally’ after finding himself on the business end of the opponents’ rucks. What Mountain Man mentioned about the Chiefs is a gross form of the Mosey and is quite often penalised by Nigel Owens and Wayne Barnes because it is noticeable.

      McCaw is also not bad at the advanced mosey of running a forward diagonal line blocking tacklers trying to get at McCaw’s team mates running with the ball behind where he is.

      This is not a gripe at McCaw: it is an appreciation of what he does and how far ahead he is of Aussie blokes trying to spoil stuff, and the law makers.

      When he is retired he will have a good old chuckle at how he was ahead of the game in his career.

      Not that he needs any of that skullduggery – he would be a great player squeaky clean.

  • BloodRed

    To paraphrase Cheika “we are good at playing rugby when we play……rugby”
    Welcome back Tahs

  • Bay35Pablo

    I initially thought Joubert was smashing us a la Kaplan. Then just before ulugia’s try he missed 3 knock ons by us on our 40 & I realised he was just bad. Not impressed.

    Got to ht and thought I was dreaming. 15-0 against chiefs? Call ft now!!! Was just as much them being in their shell but we were also playing … Rugby!!!

    Timani going off really took the wind out of our sails. Often teams lift & hold out with 14, but we seemed to lose focus & ease off.

    Our defence was mostly great. Real crunching. But their 2 tries both seemed soft. Both ran through several tacklers & should have been brought down. At least seemed that way live without replay.

    Anscombe their best by far. Their surge was down to him in large part. Couldn’t believe he was on the bench to start. But injuries seemed to bring him on early and timani off seemed to jolt them into using him.

  • Rob

    I dont understand how all the pundits are talking about Matt Toomua as a potential test player and not even mentioning Bernard Foley. He is by far and away having a much better season. 3 tries versus 1. 5 try assist versus 3. 8 linebreaks versus 1. 9 line break creates versus 5. He has even made 53 tackles to 36 albeit with more missed tackles. Why are the likes of the Rugby HQ gang ignoring Foley. if he doesnt warrant a starting berth, surely he would make a great impact sub to change the flow of a game and to step inside tired legs around the 60-65 minute mark.
    On a side note, Folau’s confidence looks sky high with his little sidestep into contact after the siren last night.Please stay Izzy and dont go back to the Grub game

  • NTA

    Kane Douglas typified what was right about the game – massive physically and dominated the contact area. Chiefs had no-one to match him.

    • Nutta

      Yep. Been waiting for that from KD.
      Also agree on a lot of the comments re Foley. I don’t know much about Fairies, but Foley looks assured and in control whilst playing relatively flat without the heart-in-mouth low percentage plays of others (paticularly QC)
      In terms of Folau, hate to say it, but it looks like we have a mungo who really can play…

  • Jeff

    No one has mentioned it but I thought there was illegal blocking when Tameafuna scored that try under the posts….almost like truck and trailer. One of his big locks was in front of him and made it very hard fro any defender to get to big Ben. I haven’t watched the game again but am curious. Am I wrong?

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