A fascinating clash is brewing on Saturday night and already the mind games (or are they brain farts?) have started.
What we should have is a classic case of ‘rugby good’ vs ‘rugby evil’, just like the Wallabies vs England. In the ‘good’ corner is the Force. Full of speed and guile through backs like Giteau and O’Connor, and a blistering back row of Pocock, Brown and Hodgson.
In the ‘evil’ corner are the Tahs. With a mangling forward pack that’s supreme in tight and a backline that can’t string 3 (OK, 2) passes together. Unflatteringly for NSW is that’s where the analogy ends, because unlike the Poms at their best, the Tahs have no general at five-eighth and are unable to even play an effective 10 man game. Witness last week’s lesson from the Bulls.
So on paper it seems easy to pick the winner – the ‘good’ guys. But what history should have punched into any Wallaby supporter over recent years is that a very good forward pack – even with stumbling morons behind it – can still, and more often than not will, win rugby matches. Especially at home.
So it’s not an easy one to call. It looks as though either the Force will stick on 4 tries with Giteau making it easier for Tahu to return home to League, or the Tahs will strangle the fuck out of the game and win by 6. Proabability says the later.
Gagger says: Tahs by 6
Oh, and and by “mind games”, I was referring to the benching of Burgess. I’m attributing this to a Hickey plan of grinding the Force down for 50 minutes and then sticking the heat up with Burgess and Beale for the last 30.
If that’s not the case, then it’s pure brain fart.
Force Pek Cowan, Tai McIsaac, Ben Castle, Sam Wykes, Nathan Sharpe, Matthew Hodgson, David Pocock, Richard Brown, Josh Valentine, Matt Giteau, Cameron Shepherd, James O’Connor, Ryan Cross, Scott Staniforth, Drew Mitchell.Replacements Ben Whittaker, AJ Whalley, Tom Hockings, Tamaiti Horua, Chris O’Young, Josh Tatupu, Haig Sare.
Waratahs Sam Norton-Knight; Lachie Turner, Timana Tahu, Tom Carter, Lote Tuqiri; Daniel Halangahu, Brett Sheehan; Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh (c), Ben Mowen, Will Caldwell, Dean Mumm, Dan Palmer, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Res: Damien Fitzpatrick, Sekope Kepu, Chris Thomson, Luke Doherty, Luke Burgess, Kurtley Beale, Peter Playford.