Tahs smash Chiefs - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Tahs smash Chiefs

Tahs smash Chiefs

Round 14: Surely the most important round of the 17 in the season. Only two games have no bearing on the finals make-up, and several games are make-or-break for both teams, with a loss consigning the loser to an away final or no final at all. Arguably, this game was the most crucial in the whole round.

For the Chiefs, a loss would catapault them out of the home final and rely on other teams losing to get back. Charlie Ngatai was still out with concussion and Michael Leitch is gone for the season. For the Waratahs, a loss would put them out of the finals from where it would be almost impossible to return. Kurtley Beale and Jed Holloway are gone for the season also, as is Ben Robinson. Both teams have lost their star 8 and 12 players.

Can he dominate like he used to?

Can he dominate like he used to?

The Match

Right from the kick-off the game was on. The Chiefs had the better of the first half but were down by four at half time. They scored first after the break but then the Waratahs clicked into gear and ran away with the match to win.

Waratahs 45 – Chiefs 25

Tahs v Chiefs (6 of 11)

First Half

Tahs kicked a penalty to start 3-0. Then the Chiefs began what looked like some unstoppable offloading to have the Tahs under the pump till Folau took a huge intercept and ran 80 metres to score. Converted by Foley, 10-0. The Chiefs surged back on attack and Timanivalu put a through kick that Phipps fumbled over the line and Chiefs scored. Some bad Tahs kicking saw the Chiefs on attack again and with their offloading proving unstoppable they scored again through Cruden who missed the conversion. 10-10.

Palu then got a yellow card for a neck roll cleanout. McKenzie missed the shot at goal. There was lots of niggle in the rucks and the referees missed a headlock tackle by the Chiefs on Hooper. McKenzie kicked for goal successfully. 10-13 to the Chiefs. The Waratahs held out (just) till Palu got back and then Palu made a half-break, off-loaded to Skelton who ran 20 metres and then got a one-hander away to Hooper who scored. Foley converted to make it 17-13.

The Chiefs were dominant in the half with their off-loading game but went into half time four points behind.

Tahs v Chiefs (4 of 11)

Second Half

After some dynamic play from both teams, Harris scored for the Chiefs in the corner; not converted by McKenzie. Chiefs 18-17. Then the Tahs picked up their running game, using the fact that the Chiefs were not engaging at the breakdown to pick and go up the middle and off-loading in the tackle. Kellaway scored a great team try and Hooper then scored an even better one with most of the team handling in the lead-up phases. Waratahs 31-18. Lousi then obstructed at the kick-off and the Chiefs kicked to the corner. The Tahs disrupted the lineout maul and ran the ball out. Some dynamic running from Mumm, Folau and others got the ball to 5 metres out and a knock-on by the Chiefs led to a dominant scrum which was followed by repeated Waratah charges and desperate Chiefs defence. Controversially, a try was awarded to Folau by the TMO who ruled the pass from Phipps was flat. Waratahs 38-18.

Gibson emptied the bench which was later to prove a mistake. The Waratahs made a couple of crazy defensive kicks and the Chiefs pounced, scoring from a Cruden cross-kick to Pulu. Converted from the sideline, it meant there was less than two converted tries between the teams. Dempsey scored a great try to make it 45-25 and despite great efforts by both teams that’s how it ended. Carraro went off injured before the end leaving the Waratahs with only 14 on the field.

Tahs v Chiefs (5 of 11)

The Wrap-Up

It was a tremendous game of rugby played by two great teams with the right attitude. Ten fabulous tries, fierce tackling on both sides, great off-loading, passing and running. You couldn’t ask for better.

The Waratah’s scrum clearly got on top in the second half, both the run-on front row and the finishers. If you saw the first four weeks you would not have believed it! And the lineout functioned well against Bird and Retallick too!

The braindead decision by SANZAAR to change the bonus point system was shown in all its glory. Both teams deserved a bonus point for the way they played and the tries they scored. Neither got one.

Jaco Peyper twice reversed decisions on knock-ons after it was clear from the screen that the AR had missed it. I doubt it fitted the protocols, but it was fair as both were obvious, and indeed if they had been ruled correctly the Tahs would have had another try (and a bonus point). Given the clear offsides the AR’s missed and a foot on the line that wasn’t, neither AR covered themselves in glory. They were the worst performers out there.

Gibson’s use of the bench was problematic. He pulled Horne off early despite him having a great game and appearing to be uninjured and ended up with only 14 players on the field for the last three minutes.

Tahs v Chiefs (1 of 11)

The Game Changer

Three unanswered tries in the middle of the second half turned the game. It stemmed from the Tahs attacking directly as the Chiefs stood off the rucks and then off-loading once the break was made. Great NZ-style rugby played back at them.


It is hard to find a bad player on either team. Folau was immense but my MOTM was Dave Dennis. He was a giant among tall men tonight.

Wallaby Watch

All the Wallaby players played well, including those who no one seems to like. Dave Dennis played his best game one week too late.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Waratahs 45

Tries: Michael Hooper (2), Israel Folau (2) Joe Dempsey, Andrew Kellaway

Conversions: Bernard Foley (6)

Penalties: Bernard Foley

Chiefs 25

Try: Seta Tamanivalu, Aaron Cruden, Nathan Harris, Toni Pulu

Conversion: Damian McKenzie

Penalties: Damian McKenzie

Cards & Citings

Yellow cards: Wycliff Palu



  • blueboy11

    The Tahs are so athletic and powerful across the park, they just have a level of intensity they can reach defensively that very few teams can score against, and they certainly got their today. In the first half (bar the opening few minutes) they were basically on the back foot, yet went in to the break ahead thanks in large part to some unbelievable pieces of defence.

  • What about that! Can we play like that for the rest of the season?

    Honestly I was not very optimistic before the match, even at half time I was nervous as hell. Truth is for the first half we only played 1% of the time inside the Chiefs 22 and if it were not for an individual try from Folau and a try from an linebreak around midfield we probably would not have been able to hang on the scoreboard.

    I believe the Chiefs are still better than us in general (how many tries do we have to score at home against these guys to get a bonus point?), but if we can run support lines and master the offload like we did last night we are a lot tougher to beat. There’s a lot to improve but a 20 point difference is no luck.

    Folau – forget Ben Smith, SBW, Willie Le Roux… the best footballer in the world is Australian and play for the Wallabies.
    Hooper – I would’ve hate to have gone to school with him. What a bully. Outplayed the Chiefs and future All Blacks captain everywhere, and sticked it to him from the first breakdown.

    Great showing from TPN, Dennis, Horne and Zac Guilford as well. Also, Kellaway is not far behind that McKeinze kid at all, expect him to develop into a Wallaby starter in the next 4 years.

    Everyone else was pretty solid. The pace of the match was so high the finishers couldn’t cope with it for the first minutes they were on I guess. Can we just please tell Matt Carraro and Reece Robinson to stop with these stupid grubber kicks? Just hold on to the ball ffs.

    • Mart

      I think it’s time to blood a young winger and bench Carraro… oh hang on we got Taqele coming back!

  • Wilbur Starn

    Tahs were immense. I thought the biggest thing I got out of that match was how bad Crudens defence is. I hope they AB’s pick him. Great game.

    • Arty

      Not just Cruden. What about Lowes turnstile defence. First man dropped for the chiefs.

      • Pedro

        Folau relished running at McKenzie too, he seemed to be surprised if he ever slowed him down at all.

        • blueboy11

          When he was running at McKenzie it was nearly always in open space, and Folau makes the best defenders in the world look average in open space, let alone 21 year-old fullbacks who weigh about 60kgs.

        • Pedro


  • LoveThePoop


    Sam Cane has been found after being reported missing last night. The future All Black 7 and captain went missing for about 80 mins last night, only to be later found in the chiefs dressing room. Michael Hooper is wanted for questioning in relation to reports he forcibly detained Mr Cane in his shadow against his will. Bob Dwyer has realised a statement stating that he was now unsure if Hooper was better than he thought, or if the “worst” 7 in Australia is better than the best 7 in NZ…

    • blueboy11

      Calling Cane the best 7 in NZ would have made sense had the actual best 7 not put on a man of the match, 2 try performance against the defending champions literally 30 minutes before this game kicked off. I reckon long term Cane will move to six and Savea will play 7 for the ABs (in fact wouldn’t be surprised if they experimented with that in the Wales series). Remember, Kaino is also well past 30, and while he hasn’t retired from internationals, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hansen started to move away from him in the next 6 months.

      Cane just doesn’t have the elite athletic ability you need at openside these days, while Savea is nearly as freaky as his brother, with scary intensity to match. Also, behind Savea, the ABs have two younger 7s in Blake Gibson and Mitch Karpik (though both are currently injured) who are much better suited to playing 7 in the modern age than Cane is; again, long term he’s likely a 6.

      • Xaviera

        I said it at the time and I stick by it – I would have taken Savea to RWC2015 ahead of Cane, and this year’s Super Rugby only highlights that. Cane is OK, but Savea is dynamic, and I know who I’d much prefer to defend, and it’s not Cane! However, like all back rows, Australia’s included, it’s about balance, so it will be fascinating to see what Hansen does with his 6/7/8.

        • blueboy11

          As a pure backup to Richie, I’d have preferred Savea as well. Cane skillset really does seem to fit the 6 jersey more; he’s basically decent carrier and a powerful, high volume tackler with a huge engine who’s just an ok pilferer.

        • Who?

          What’s funny is that’s almost a description of Hooper. :-O
          Great tackler, very strong carrier, big engine, with pilfering and breakdown strength not his strongest areas.
          Which makes the comments about Cane being comprehensively outplayed by Hooper just as relevant as they were at the top of this thread.

        • blueboy11

          The difference between Hooper and Cane is the athleticism. At 7, you obviously generally want a pilferer, and that isn’t Hooper’s strength as has been discussed a ton in the past. But if you can’t have an elite pilferer (and there aren’t many of them around), you need a difference maker.

          That’s where Cane falls down, he is a very good player in all the aspect you mention, but athletically he isn’t on the same level as Hooper, and that, combined with his lack of breakdown ability, really suggests he’s a 6 playing out of position.

          Until the past 12 months or so, NZ had decent but not great options at 7 outside of McCaw (who himself was obviously a lesser player than his younger self), epitomised by Cane. Now though, with Savea and the two promising youngsters, they may have quite a few more decisions to make.

        • gurchin

          Lesser player on athleticism perhaps, equally maybe made up for in wiles

      • Seb V

        Savea is a beast. He outplayed Pocock in both Brumbies V Hurricanes games last year. I was so surprised he wasn’t in the RWC15 squad.

    • Ahahahah good stuff

    • Richard

      Thanks for that LoveThePoop. Not sure anyone in NZ ever doubted Hooper’s ability and is denying him of the praise he deserves for his performance last night. There is an equal amount of recognition in NZ of the depth of No. 7’s in Australia, likewise the combined capability at the breakdown of Hooper, Pocock and Fardy as a test back row. Whether their presence together is translated into other areas is less clear. We all saw the vulnerability of the Wallaby lineout at the RWC and we expect that to be better this year. Enjoy the Waratah’s performance and victory. After 11 games, it was encouraging to finally see them awaken.

  • Pedro

    Thanks for the write up hawko.

    Didn’t see that coming, the tahs forwards just kept coming. Louisi played really well off the bench looking really hard to take down.

  • Nutta

    Good scrummage. Good lineout. Creative running and the use of pick&drive was smart. And don’t underestimate the defensive effort – commentators saying 75% of the game was played in Tarts half.

    Meat & potatoes rugby meaning the time was prime for gravy…

    Many may argue but I thought Mumm was MOTM. He had a monster game in dark and unseen places. That said Dennis played v.well too. Amazing to see Folau is such form and I still reckon Kellaway would not be out of place in Gold. Great win against a serious opponent.

    • Picking the MOTM was the hardest task tonight, so I won’t argue too hard. Dean has cemented the 6 jersey as his this season with a succession of good performances, not always recognised. Bob Dwyer, for all his faults, stated before Mumm left for the UK that he should be playing 6 and at last that has come to pass. He and Dave both have huge engines, which allows Skelton, Lousi and Palu to play 55 minutes or so very successfully.

      The official MOTM was Phipps and while he was good he gave away a simple try and his box kicking was atrocious. Not a great decision, frankly.

  • Tropical Sauce

    Best game by Cliffy Palu in an age , he dominated and enforced . The same could be said for the entire Tahs squad lead from the front by Hooper yet again, they haven’t played like this since 2014.
    Not sure I really understood the tactic of the Chiefs standing off rucks , which allowed the Tahs to punch massive wholes in their defence. Sure try it once or twice but the entire game they were only committing 2 or 3 at the very most to rucks. Can some rugby genius explain why they were doing this ?

    • Pedro

      I think they stand off the rucks to try and get more “tackle only” situations which are of course of great benefit to the defense as there is no offside line in that situation. Obviously it didn’t work for them last night though.

      • Nutta

        Correctumundo. No ruck means no off-side

  • Xaviera

    In many ways, that was a strong performance from a Kiwi team last night, against the Chiefs. High skill levels, multiple offloads, tries from turnover ball, poor territorial percentage yet still ahead on the scoreboard. Sound familiar? Suggests to me that Daryl’s imprint is starting to show, and if this is what we get, I like it. Sadly, due to a scheduling clusterfuck (seriously, Tahs and Swans at home at the same time, on a Friday night, both top of the table clashes, all of which also happens to coincide with the start of VIVID! – which rocket scientist came up with that??), only 18K punters saw it, but it was worthy of many more. And there was noise! Paddy Ryan said post match he thought the crowd was much larger as a result of the noise. That augurs well for future clutch matches.

    We struggled to pick a clear MOTM, but only because so many stood up. I was concerned when I saw Cliffy on the teamsheet, especially as a result of Jed’s injury, but Cliffy, while not at the level of his peak, certainly intimidated, which may have been enough to inspire his piggy colleagues. Mummy and Dennis were both immense, the latter knocking one of the Chiefs somewhere into Paddington with a run late in the match – a huge hit. I thought both Lousi and Skelton had their best games in ages, and when they were our two second rowers together, albeit briefly, that looked like a terrifying proposition for any opposition. Skelton seems to polarise folk, but his efforts and impact last night were of a high level, and his awareness and offload for Hooper’s try was world class. Love the ~80kg fullback sizing up the 140kg second-rower at full tilt – live for those moments. Our scrum was strong and our lineout did well – better than the Chiefs, and they had Jaws in the lineup, so no excuses.

    For a backline missing KB, they surprised, pleasantly. The rearrangement seemed to work, and Cam Blades said the centurion came off because “he was burnt” – he’d gone so hard he needed to be subbed. That makes sense. Izzy was spectacular, and I think Cheik has a real dilemma on his hands – 13 or 15? Again, it will become a balance issue, because Izzy clearly can play both, and last night was his best outing to date in 13, and against top shelf opposition too. Haven’t seen his run metres, but if they’re not close to 200m, I’d be very surprised. Kellaway continues to grow into this level, and looks more comfortable with every match. We’ll see him in gold sooner rather than later. The wingers contributed and our 9 and 10 created a lot of doubt for the opposition defence. Phipps especially (the official MOTM), started running more, and they created momentum, which led to opportunity which led to points.

    The match officials? I would have managed a few things differently. Jaco AR (as opposed to Jaco referee) clearly had something against Cliffy, but was blind to 13 black’s constant niggle and NRL style cattiness. A sterner chat and some time in the naughty chair would not have gone astray. Cliffy got 10 for a neck roll, but a Chiefs neck roll was missed too, again by Jaco AR. I suspect the Referee Coaches would have had writer’s cramp by full-time and the post match video review would have raised the Jaco eyebrows (all four of them).

    A pity the Test window has arrived – with this sort of momentum, I’m sure the Waratahs would be happy to tackle all their tough matches ASAP.

    • RedSheep1989

      Good points all round but I’ll have to disagree on Kellaway. He’s playing a lot better than he was at the start of the season but he’s a long way back from anyone in the Wallabies squad now. He reads the game well and but just isn’t dominant enough in contact. Hope he goes well though, time will tell

    • Davo

      Yes, a pity about the scheduling. I was next door at the Swans which was also a great game which the good guys won. I would definitely have gone to the Tahs game as well if it wasn’t on at….exactly the same time!

  • TheMountain

    Cliffy was all class last night! I have to ask forgiveness for my non-belief. Does anyone know if Mckenzie asked the bench for a new set of dacks after Skelton sized him up? I would have…

  • Joy

    About 18,000.

  • Mike Thompson

    Nice to be rid of that lead weight Kurtley

    • MM

      Such an ugly, ugly, ugly sentiment.

      • Irony doesn’t translate well in print.

  • jamie

    Tahs would’ve beaten anyone the way they played last night. Absolutely amazing. I’ve only seen one Kiwi comment something stupid on social media so I suppose “we” (bandwagonning) did alright to shut them up.

    That game was the best of the season.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    WOW! That blew me away. The Chiefs just didn’t turn up. Congratulations on the Tahs, they wanted it more and played accordingly. The win was well deserved and some of the players under question really stood up. I still don’t see Folau as a 13 and while he had a magic game I’m still concerned about his defence. Not just one on one but the subtleties of a good centre to position himself and force the opposition to make mistakes just isn’t there and I think that against a world class backline he’ll be found out. But then again smarter people than me see differently. I guess we’ll see against the Poms.
    Interesting reading all the comments and there are some good points. Cane had the worst game he’s played in years and must be looking over his shoulder at Savea, Cruden must be looking at Sopoanga the same way and McKenzie showed he’s still a boy and needs a lot of work before he’s ready to be a full back for the AB’s. I know he’s been named in the squad but I just don’t see him there yet. He plays well at times but under pressure he makes bad decisions and his defence needs a lot of work. Hopefully he’s there to learn and provide cover if there are some major injuries.

    • Nutta

      Selecting a kid is never safe ground. The Oz perspective has classic wins and losses each way in this regard – look no further than Ewan McKenzie vs Kurtley Beale. Link was picked as a virtual pup but was part of an unlikely victory, did well vs Richard Loe (I think) vs Kurtly who I don’t think ever got past the missed kick vs the BILs in 2013. If that had slotted we win the series, the guy is a legend, Dingo is a master-coach and everything else fades away… Carpe Diem

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I agree Nutta, interestingly the talk coming out of the camp is that he’s unlikely to get on the field and that it’s a case of building him up for the future. It looks like this management team have actually got their sh*t together and are planning well

  • Grant

    Great game of rugby for sure. I took two non-rugby friends to the game and they were both impressed. One is an Ells supporter so we may win him over. I actually think the ref had a good game. I enjoy the running, flowing game and it was this element that impressed my friends. I’m glad it wasn’t a Joubert type ref on the night. It was a tough, gritty contest with a lot of running, points and excitement – the Tahs but more importantly, rugby union was the winner on the night.

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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