Preview - Waratahs v Brumbies - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

Preview – Waratahs v Brumbies

Preview – Waratahs v Brumbies

There can be only one. The Super Rugby tournament is more difficult for the Australian teams in 2017 than it was last year because they are playing against the sides of the stronger South African Conference. This means that it will even easier for three NZ teams to make the finals and more difficult for a second Aussie team to go through.

Moreover the standard of teams within the Australian Conference are closer to each other than ever, with the Brumbies and Waratahs weaker than last year and the others stronger. The Aussies Conference derbies will become even more important than they were before, and almost worth double points.

This Waratahs v Brumbies match could determine which of these two teams will be the Aussie finalist.


This year this game could be worth double points to the winners

The form

Round 1

  • Waratahs 19 – Force 13
  • Crusaders 17 – Brumbies 13

Round 2

  • Lions 55 – Waratahs 36
  • Brumbies 22 – Sharks 27

Round 3

  • Sharks 37 – Waratahs 14
  • Brumbies 25 – Force 17

The Waratahs’ form on their South African tour was terrible. They looked uninterested and once they fell behind it looked like they gave up. They looked mentally weak; yet they looked mentally tough and ground out a hard-fought game in Round 1.

The Brumbies’ form has been better but how did they surrender victory to the Sharks after the siren with a draw on the scoreboard?

Both teams’ sole wins have been narrow ones at home against the Force.


sekope kepu scores vs all blacks wallabies 2015

Kepu and Hooper play in their 100th Super Rugby game

The teams

Michael Hooper will captain the team once more.  At 25 years-old he will be the youngest player to play 100 games in Super Rugby.  Sekope Kepu also runs on for his 100th match. Waratahs’ fans didn’t know who he was when they recruited him.

Bernard Foley has been better during the week and has been named in the starting team, but he will still have to pass his final test.  Bryce Hegarty has been named as a replacement and will start if Foley is still unfit.

Lock Will Skelton returns to the starting team and no. 8 Jed Holloway plays his first game of the season after his pre-season hamstring injury. Reserve Michael Wells will replace Holloway some time, and perhaps, early.  The Tahs have decided upon a 6-2 split on the bench which anticipates a heavy track but bears risk.  Ned Hanigan, also back from injury, will be the extra forward.

Scrumhalf Nick Phipps retains his starting spot after some indifferent form in the Republic, but Jake Gordon replaces Matt Lucas on the bench.

Scott Fardy comes back into the team as expected and Lolo Fakaosilea, not an openside flanker, replaces Chris Alcock, who has a concussion. Winger Nigel Ah Wong is preferred to James Dargaville this week.


Scott Fardy – will make a nuisance of himself  again

Crucial Considerations

The Brumbies‘ attack still relies heavily on the set pieces, which are better than that of the Tahs. The rolling maul from lineouts, which the home team had no answer to against the Lions in Johannesburg, is a primary weapon of the ACT team. It is bucketing down in Sydney as I write this and wet conditions, the habitat of the visitors, will favour the Brumbies.

Scott Fardy was strategically rested for this game. He will be looking to slow down the Waratahs’ ball so they will struggle to get their backline attack going. These were the same tactics used by the Force in Round 1.

The Waratahs returning players will make them stronger than the team than played in South Africa, although the rest of the team will be jet-lagged after travelling back from Durban.

It is a Waratahs home game but Allianz is hardly a fortress anymore.

Allianz Stadium is hardly a fortress these days

Key contests

Skelton v Brumbies maul.

Mauls are the main scoring method for the Brumbies.  Skelton has been known to disrupt some of them virtually on his own but it will need a team effort to defuse the Brumbies’ maul, a skill which the Waratahs have not demonstrated yet.

Waratahs backrow v Fardy

The Waratahs will have to ensure quick clean ball from rucks that Fardy will be doing his best to spoil, as mentioned. None of the Waratahs’ backrowers are renowned for cleaning players out at the breakdown; so they will need to beat Fardy to it.

Bernard Foley v Wharenui Hawera

The Waratahs’ attacking patterns have been ineffective without Foley. They work best when the flyhalf is a running threat that puts the defence in two minds. Opponents have been sliding off Hegarty and stifling the attack further out. If Foley passes his final concussion test he will make defenders watch him longer, which means Folau will get more space at outside centre and create danger.

The Brumbies’ backline attack is pedestrian and not deceptive enough. If flyhalf Hawera can initiate improvement in this area and spark his team, the Brumbies will threaten the threadbare defence of the Waratahs as the South African teams did.

Wharenui Hawera – needs to spark the Brumbies’ backline

Israel Folau v Tevita Kuridrani

Kuridrani lacks quick lateral movement as the Scots proved in November, and Folau will be able to get around him if any space is available.

Waratahs attack v Brumbies defence

The Brumbies strength in their three games has been their defence. The area Brumbies have struggled in is scoring points. The Waratahs have struggled in all facets. Their attack has been their one area that has shone; but like a lantern on a mast during a storm, it has been uneven and sporadic.


Apart from the above, the Waratahs’ discipline has been poor as has been the Brumbies’ goal kicking. Perhaps it is my heart over my head but I believe (wish) that the returning players for the Waratahs will make the difference.

Waratahs by 4

Skelton – good in the tight stuff


1. Tom Robertson
2. Tolu Latu
3. Sekope Kepu
4. Dean Mumm
5. Will Skelton
6. Jack Dempsey
7. Michael Hooper (c)
8. Jed Holloway
9. Nick Phipps
10. Bernard Foley *
11. Rob Horne
12. Irae Simone
13. Israel Folau
14. Reece Robinson
15. Andrew Kellaway

16. Hugh Roach
17. Paddy Ryan
18. David Lolohea
19. Dave McDuling
20. Ned Hanigan
21. Michael Wells
22. Jake Gordon
23. Bryce Hegarty *


1. Ben Alexander
2. Josh Mann-Rea
3. Allan Ala’alatoa
4. Rory Arnold
5. Sam Carter (c)
6. Scott Fardy
7. Lolo Fakaosilea
8. Jordan Smiler
9. Joe Powell
10. Wharenui Hawera
11. Nigel Ah Wong
12. Kyle Godwin
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Aidan Toua

16. Robbie Abel
17. Nick Mayhew
18. Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin
19. Blake Enever
20. Ben Hyne
21. De Wet Roos
22. Jordan Jackson-Hope
23. Andrew Smith

Match Details

Date: Saturday, March 17

Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Kick-off: 17:45 AEST

Referee: Glen Jackson (NZ)

Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Aus), Will Houston (Aus)

TMO: Ian Smith (Aus)

* If Foley fails his final concussion test before the match Hegarty will start at flyhalf and David Horwitz will take his place in the reserves.

  • McWarren

    I always like watching this game. I think the Tarts will be fired up to prove they aren’t as bad as the SA trips suggests (I hope there not that bad) and the Brumbies will be pissed after losing that game last weekend and a little worried about the lack of certainty about their future. I think the Brumbies will win this one on form, but, that mighty Tahs lock pairing could swing it the other way.
    For me the most important/exciting match up is the two 12’s. Both guys have a huge amount of potential and this is just the sort of match where either one can comfortably throw a certain amount of caution to the wind. It will be interesting to see if Simone can work well with Foley (if fit).

  • Pedro

    I think that even if Foley is declared fit it’s a big ask for him to hit the ground running, especially in difficult handling conditions.

    Thanks for the write up, but I think the ponies will feast on the flowers who lack starch in defense. Brums by 14.

  • Lee Grant

    Good piece Peter – I loved this line:

    “Their attack has been their one area that has shone; but like a lantern on a mast during a storm, it has been uneven and sporadic”

    It flickered a bit, didn’t it?

    I can’t reconcile their tepid losses in the Republic with their fighting away win against the Stormers last year. I know they had injuries, but everybody has them and they should have done better.

    This is a watershed game for the Waratahs, more so than the Brumbies who were ran down by the Sharks but improved their finishing against the Force last week.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    I’m not sure your write up is reflected in your prediction. The only real advantage I see for the Tah’s is a home game and I’m not sure that means that much – as you have pointed out. Skelton didn’t have a bad game in SA but I also didn’t see such a good game that I’ll give him too many points over Carter. I’ve been a bit disappointed with Hooper this year. I haven’t really seen either much in the way of a fetching 7 or much in the way of positive leadership and I think he may need another rant from Bob Dwyer to get him going. The Tahs are definitely better at scoring tries this year and that may be enough to turn them around but I think the Brumbies are coming in as favourites.

    • Lee Grant

      I see the bookies have the Tahs as the favourites also, which I think is odd.

      You’re right that Skelton didn’t have a bad game in SA – didn’t have a good one either; he didn’t play. (Sorry to be a smart-arse, but I couldn’t help it.)

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Hahahaha didn’t he play in the first game?

        • Lee Grant

          His only game this year was against the Force in Sydney. I think he was chosen to play the Lions but had to withdraw.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I knew I’d seen him play. Obviously didn’t impress the shit out of me, but then he never has.

        • Adrian

          He was actually the player of the round in round 1 according to a couple of sites

        • Lee Grant

          I was at the game – he was probably second choice for man-of-the-match.

          Signed – Smart Arse.

    • PeterK


      Missing from the piece was how I thought all the returning stars will make a big difference to the tahs.
      Holloway, Skelton, Foley whilst Brumbies only have Fardy.
      Also the forecast was for sunny for saturday night but now it is for showers.

      Lets say these were lost in transaltion.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        It’ll be intersting to see how much better or worse Foley makes the team. He’s been off for a long time and players usually take a while to get back into the groove. It’d be good to see Skelton continue to improve but he needs to do a lot to make up for the lumbering inneffective mass of blubber he was last year for me to support him.

      • Pedro

        Brums also get Ah Wong, who is a beast.

  • Brumby Runner

    Good preview Peter. Game is a toss up to me. Only comment is that the Tahs have scored 69 points to the Brumbies’ 60, while shipping over 100 to the Brumbies’ 61. On form, not much between them attacking wise but the Brumbies’ defense has been much stronger. I have a feeling though that these figures won’t have a lot of bearing on the game’s outcome this weekend.

  • Nick

    Thanks for the preview Peter. I’m hoping the Tahs are fired up and put a score on the Brumbies but I have a feeling it will be close.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Kuridrani’s lateral movement might not be fantastic, but nor is Folau’s to be fair. He busts through tackles brilliantly, but his strengths in recent years has been trying to run through players as opposed to running around them.

    By that same token, last time these teams met in Sydney Folau was shown up in defence multiple times by TK. TK palmed him off like he was nothing at one point.

    I want to say that I’m confident in a Brumbies win, but the Tahs might be fired up to prove they aren’t quite as terrible as they were in South Africa, and the Brumbies may well be very distracted given all the talk about them getting cut.

    That said, I’m still picking the Brumbies by 7.

    • PeterK

      Disagree, Folau can break tackles he also has a very good step which he beats players with.
      Folau scored tries against brumbies in both matches last year

  • John Tynan

    Thanks Peter, and tip of the hat for some top quality trolling to open the article!

  • Bay35Pablo

    Nice write up. More analysis there than the Fox Rugby team usually shows all season.
    For match ups, front rows look even, Brumbies have stronger locks, back rows mouth watering match up by Tahs with edge IMHO, halves probably the key – whoever performs likely to win, back line tahs have more firepower on paper.
    As always will come down to how much time the piggies can give the service off the back of the ruck, and the set piece. How that will play out is anyone’s guess, especially on a wet track. Whoever is more willing should take it.

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