Review: Tahs Top Force in Easter Scrapfest - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Review: Tahs Top Force in Easter Scrapfest

Review: Tahs Top Force in Easter Scrapfest

The Waratahs beat the Western Force in a tight yet scrappy Sydney affair. Both sides will have plenty to work on though, with big weaknesses exposed.

The Match

Once again Sydney put on a lovely Sunday afternoon, with mild conditions and dazzling sunshine. The first half was an odd kind of affair, with both sides showing good intent with ball in hand. Sadly this positive intent was thwarted by a combination of good defence, poor handling and indiscipline. Ebersohn and McKibbin took full advantage, kicking 3 and 5 penalty goals respectively. The Tahs were attempting an expansive game, attacking the Force in the wider channels. The Force were playing far more narrow, but good carries from the tight forwards meant that they found metres fairly easy to come by. While the scoreline was 15-9 in favour of the home side at half time, you felt like the game was still very much in the balance.

and there was much rejoicing

and there was much rejoicing

After their regular half time shellacking, the Tahs came out with a renewed sense of purpose, and it paid off almost immediately, with McKibbin slotting a penalty and then AAC scoring in the corner after good lead up work from Folau and Foley. It looked like it could be a space job, but the Force rallied, and a converted try to Alfie Mafi just eight minutes later kept them within 7.  A penalty a few minutes later to Ebersohn reduced the margin to just 4, and it was game on. The game began to stall, not helped by pedantry from Steve Walsh. The last fifteen minutes was dominated by Waratah breaks and Waratah errors. They put themselves in great positions, but were let down by poor handling and bad support play.

Both teams had chances in the last ten minutes, but ultimately the Force just weren’t good enough to get over the line. They had plenty of ball but their attack was predictable and thus they were largely contained by the Tah defence.  It was scrappy, but the Waratahs won the day 23-19.

The Talking Point

This was a funny game, and highlighted the shortcomings of both sides. The Force were clinical and made few errors, but were too predictable and had an inability to break the line outside of the second channel. The Waratahs created opportunities left, right and centre but just couldn’t hold onto the ball. Blend these two teams into one and they would be unstoppable. Going forward, though, I would say one thing: you can fix execution, but you can’t teach X-factor and the ability to break the line.


mcmeniman profileI was very impressed with the work of Hugh McMeniman. Abrasive, physical but also very intelligent with a good game awareness. He made big hits but also deft passes and smart turnovers. He takes the chocolates from Benn Robinson, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau and Alfie Mafi.

Wallaby watch

MMM and Alfie Mafi should both be considered as real chances for Wallaby spots. Both were outstanding with limited opportunities. Benn Robinson looks to have nailed down the loosehead jersey, and AAC had yet another solid game at outside centre. Folau furthered his claims. Ryan, TPN, Timani and Hooper were all quiet though, and will need to lift.

The Details

Crowd: 15,348

Score & Scorers

Waratahs 23
Tries: Ashley-Cooper
Conversions: nil
Penalties: McKibbin 6

Force 19
Tries: Mafi
Conversions: Ebersohn
Penalties: Ebersohn 4

Cards & citings

Salesi Maafu, 23′, high tackle on TPN

  • As in recent games, intent was there, you could see what they wanted to do, but execution not up to it mostly. Passing to close runners was poor at times, runners turned over easily at times. Take the win. Good thing McKibbon can kick goals.

  • Bay35Pablo

    Cripes, once again execution lets us down. How long can this go on? Especially since we seemed to be getting better, although part of that is the pressure your opponents put on you.
    I must say the force’s flaws look familiar to tahs fans. We’d have lost this game a similar way last year. I’d rather be us in 12 months.

  • Steve

    The refereeing was decidedly average too…

  • Gus

    I haven’t been able to see the game yet but how did folau go with taking the ball into contact this week? I have noticed that he seemed to get turned over a lot more when he goes to the ground than an average player.

    Maybe it’s just because he’s more visible after doing some dynamic runs so I notice it more than other players but he seems to be missing the instinct of what to do when tackled.

    Week to week it is a deficiency in his game I haven’t seen improving. Which is a shame because it’s pretty much his only one right now. He’s obviously a class player with the potential to be one of the first selected in any wallabies backline by next World Cup.

    I’m just worried with all this wallaby talk already he may get found out in international play if he can’t recycle well when tackled. Any thoughts?

    • After a great run He got in a bad position right near the force line which lead to a turn over. Otherwise I think he was a bit more improved. His work off the ball still needs work though – clean outs after being a decoy runner for example… He got us in position for our try though. He’s adding good value generally I think. Should’ve taken a nifty ’round the corner’ ball from Betham though, that may have lead to a try.

  • Polo

    Thats to many Tahs to be in Australian side , only form players not one match hero’s. most of the side would have to came from Qld& Act , it seams to be the players that have the biggest ARU contract that get in ! There not Numpties

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    I was dragged away to participate in an Easter egg hunt and forced to watch the replay, so this could be the chocolate speaking. But I think we may just be just be improving.

    The dreaded ‘give away heaps of points before 1/2 time’ has improved and we actually went into the shed with a decent lead. Maybe the shock of it all was too much and Cheika couldn’t give his usual spray to shock us into action or maybe Michael Foley really did have our number. Who knows? What ever the reason we didn’t seem to push on as much as I’d hoped.

    Staying positive here – I liked the look of some of the back line moves. Sadly poor execution let us down a few times. None the less it was encouraging to see that someone at training is giving thought to breaking down defenses. I hope we stick at it.

    IMHO we need to stop relying on the Referee to save us and instead have our enforcers ‘willing & able’ ensure we get quick ball. Otherwise the attacking game plan of Cheika’s is at high risk of being thwarted. And we can’t have that!

    Any thoughts on who could be our Enforcer?

    • Barbarian

      Agree totally. The expansive game plan really relies on your first cleanout man being hard and accurate. The Tahs failed at this numerous times on Sunday and were made to pay. They were better last week. That should be Dennis, McCutcheon, Timani and Douglas.

      • Ooaahh

        McCutcheon is a bust. Bring back Cliffy and where is minitimani?

        • Barbarian

          McCutcheon gets through a lot of work, unfashionable player but very useful. No doubt Cliffy is a clearly superior player. Think Lopeti is injured.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          I like what I’m seeing from McCutcheon (and others).

          Perhaps not where he was part of that bust on the left side for the try line, hung onto the ball just a fraction too long and got tackled from behind (think I’ve got the right bloke there). That move had me up and dancing. But then it’s pretty dull where I live.

          Just thinking about the Tahs the other day and how often it’s hard to pick one player who is outstanding. Could that mean they are actually more of a team this year than a bunch of stars? Sure feels that way!

        • Jimmy

          Problem with Pat is that he never makes it over the advantage line. He is, no doubt a good honest player but in the absence of a hard running 6, the Tahs need an 8 who can carry. Pat isn’t the answer in that position.

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