Waratahs hopes laid to rest at the graveyard (*possible exhumation order cancelled) - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Waratahs hopes laid to rest at the graveyard (*possible exhumation order cancelled)

Waratahs hopes laid to rest at the graveyard (*possible exhumation order cancelled)

At a cold, windy and damp graveyard the Waratahs went into the game needing to come away with as many points as possible to put the pressure on the Brumbies and give themselves a chance at finals footy.

The First Half

Both teams took their time settling into the game. For the first 10 minute both teams tried to get on the front foot but made errors and turned the ball over.

The first real chance came for the Blues at the 10 minute mark afters stealing a Waratahs defensive line out 10 meters out, but they knocked on. The Waratahs were awarded a penalty at the scrum allowing them to relieve the pressure of the Blues attack.

At the 14 minute mark the Waratahs were given their first opportunity with an attacking line out on the 10 metre mark. The Waratahs went straight for the maul, which broke down, and were awarded a penalty for the Blues coming in from the side. The Waratahs again took the line out option going to the maul, this time it went to ground, the ball unplayable, as the Waratahs were going forward they were given the feed.

At the scrum, the Waratahs were showing dominance, earning a penalty with the Blues coming up in the scrum. The Waratahs again went to the scrum, exerting their dominance earning a repeat penalty as again the Blues stood up due to the pressure from the Waratahs. With the scrum being set for the third time, the ball finally came out and went through hands to the centre field where the Blues were penalised for a high tackle in front of the posts.

Having scrum dominance, the Waratahs again went to the scrum, and again forced the Blues to pop up, finally being rewarded with a penalty try. Bernard Foley converted from directly in front. 7-0 Waratahs.

From the kick off, the Waratahs received the ball just outside the 22, the pass going back to Israel Folau who kicked into touch, but as the ball was passed back the Blues were awarded an attacking lineout 5 metres from the line. The Waratahs fortunately were able to defuse the Blues attack, stealing the lineout with Foley kicking the ball down field. The Blues received the ball from the kick, getting back on attack and worked their way back up the field, putting Patrick Tuipulotu over in the corner. The TMO confirmed the try, Piers Francis missed the conversion making the score 7 – 5 to the Waratahs.

The Blues got back on attack a few minutes later after the Waratahs were caught offside allowing the Blues to kick to touch for an attacking lineout 5 metres out. The Blues threw in, going straight to the maul and advancing, the maul went to ground with the referee ruling the Waratahs had deliberately collapsed the maul and the Blues were awarded a penalty try. Francis made an easy conversion. 12-7 Blues.

The Waratahs had one more opportunity to get on the board just before halftime. From an attacking lineout 10 metres out, the Waratahs went to the maul, but the Blues managed to stop it legally taking it ground and the turning the ball over.

From the resulting scrum, the Blues, in trying to exit, lost the ball at the breakdown, putting the Waratahs back on attack, going 10 phases until a bobbled last pass on the line turned the ball over to the Blues, closing out the first half.

Half time score: Blues 12 – Waratahs 7

The Second Half

The Waratahs started the second half well, with Michael Hooper breaking through the defence and sending the ball out wide. An offside penalty at the 43 minute mark gave the Waratahs a scrum 5 metres out. Once again the Blues front row was under enormous pressure, standing up in the scrum. The Waratahs were awarded their 2nd penalty try of the match. Foley converted, 14-12 Waratahs.

Some good attacking play from the Blues saw Melani Nanai break the line, getting the ball to Steven Luatua who got off a good offload to Francis. Francis used his fancy footwork to beat 4 defenders to get over the line, successfully converting his own try. 19-14 Blues.

The next 5 minutes saw both teams attacking the line, with the Blues looking threatening each time they had ball in hand. At the 57 minute mark an offside penalty against the Waratahs saw Francis take the 3 points, 22-14 to the Blues.

Just minutes later the Waratahs finally managed to break the Blues defensive line. Folau, on the end of a Hooper pass, beat a defender to easily cross the line. Foley made the conversion, cutting the lead to just one point. 22-21 Blues.

Two minutes later it was the Blues crossing for another try, with Nanai collecting a grubber kick from West after it ricocheted off Dean Mumm’s foot, crossing the line un-opposed. Francis converted to take the lead out to 8 points once again, 29-21 Blues.

At the 70 minute mark the Waratahs went on the attack again, sparked by a turnover to Hooper. A good series of passes sent the ball wide to Reece Robinson who kicked ahead, forcing an offside penalty against the Blues. The Waratahs played on quickly and another good set of passes saw Angus Taavao score, again Foley successfully converted to make it a 1 point game.29-28 Blues.

The Blues came very close to crossing the line off a Francis grubber kick, it was only the boot of Andrew Kellaway right on the try line that stopped the Blues player from gathering the ball and scoring. Frome the resulting lineout close to their line, the Blues went on the attack with George Moala crossing for the final try of the match. Francis missed the conversion, leaving the lead at 6 points, 34-28 to the Blues.

It looked as though the Blues were going to get another opportunity to score after the Waratahs kick off failed to go 10 metres. From the scrum on half way, the Blues kicked the ball into the 22 and regained possession of the ball after it was initially gathered by the Waratahs. A forward pass out wide ended their attack and gave the Waratahs one last chance to steal the game. After a break from Foley and then Rob Horne, a penalty was awarded to the Blues when Horne did not release the ball. The ball was kicked into touch ending a hard fought match.

The losing bonus point gives the Waratahs and their fans a glimmer of hope that they can still make the play offs. It all comes down to the Brumbies now, a single point from them in their match against the Force and it’s all over for the Tahs.

Final score Blues 34 –Waratahs 28

The Game Changer

The substitution of Ofa Tu’ungafasi for Charlie Faumuina helped fix the Blues scrum issues, taking away the one real area of dominance that the Waratahs held over the Blues.


Paddy Ryan had a good game, particularly come scrum time, where he helped put huge pressure on the Blues front row. His work in the scrum was a major contributing factor in the 2 penalty tries. For the Blues West and Luatua stood out from the pack.

Wallaby Watch

Foley had a better game than last week, putting pressure on the defence and a 100% kicking rate off the tee. No one else really stood out, Horne made some good attacking runs and Folau looked the goods with his try, although the 5 turnovers he conceded did not do much to help the Waratahs out with this one.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Blues: 34
Tries: Patrick Tuipulotu (26′) Penalty Try (30’) Piers Francis (49′) Melani Nanai (64′) George Moala (77′)
Conversions: Piers Francis 3/5
Penalties: Piers Francis 1/1

Waratahs: 28
Tries: Penalty Try (22’) Penalty try (44’) Israel Folau(61′) Angus Taavao-Matau(72′)
Conversions: Bernard Foley 4/4

Cards & Citings


  • brumby runner

    Wasn’t a particularly high standard but was quite interesting nevertheless. The question of whether the Tahs would take the win (a bonus point win was never in the equation) kept a level of excitement throughout.

    In the end, the last placed NZ side was too good for the two top placed Aus teams in consecutive weeks. Says a lot really.

    I thought Hooper was again the Tahs’ best with Folau also showing his class. Cannot agree that Foley had a good game at all. He doesn’t run the plays like a 10 should. Rob Horne is a bit of a liability at this and at test level these days. Missed tackles, and just looked to be dominated most of the game.

    For the Blues. Nanai and Luatua were outstanding.

    • formerflanker

      Horne’s passes to Folau were usually too high or behind.

      • Paul

        Totally agree. Rob Horne has been in terrible form lately.

        • Jeremy

          Rob Horne is the epitome of Australian rugby against these Kiwi sides. Laboured, one-dimensional and non-threatening. Lacks speed, finesse and skill with even the most basic of tasks.

        • Seb V

          oh but Jermey he plays with “heart”, cos your know heart wins Test matches ;)

    • Really?

      Did Folaus class include the 4 consecutive carries for turnovers, (he finished with 5), the pathetic attempt on Nanai for his try, the making of zero tackles playing centre when the opposition scores over 30 or the kick out on the full, far too many classy things to name eh! Nice try, rest nothing short of horrible.
      Avoids contact, takes no responsibility- 2 must win games in a row and he has been shocking.

  • A Fan

    0 wins from 12 played by Aussies in NZ this year says it all really. The gulf is real. Best to scrub this year from memory and rise like the Phoenix from the ashes, admittedly their chances realistically ended with the injury to KB as the Cheika/Gibson style requires a second playmaker which Horne/Horwitz could not adequately fill. A challenge indeed for the coaching staff going forward with KBs departure and the rest of the comp catching up and scheming against the Tahs up tempo approach. A new approach to play to our strengths (Folau/Hooper) in 2017.

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      The Phoenix rising from the ashes will simply become a BBQ chook unless we learn the lessons from our mistakes. IMHO skill levels and brains needs to be fixed for us to even hope to compete against what the Kiwis are consistently producing.

      • Jimmy T

        And those Kiwi sides will be in no mood to slow down next year either. Noticeable how even the Blues have put more accuracy into what they are doing and evolved from that flashy, dry-ground style that was at best 50/50 against decent opposition. Standards and expectations over there are so much higher and guys know they must deliver every time they play to retain their spot. NZ got 4 of their 5 sides into the play-off’s this year. You know that will now become the new benchmark.

        • onlinesideline

          agreed – these guys are at a totally different level. They are bigger, more athletic, more agressive, forwards link better, work as a pack, faster thinking, sublime backline skills …

          we are not a threat to these guys at all…they’re really good, lets face it … and they seem to be getting better.

          sh&t …done by the poms and super 15 looking weak

    • Davo

      I think you have nailed it with the Cheika/Gibson style needing a second playmaker. The Wallabies certainly looked a lot better against England when Toomua was on the field. Kerevi and Horne simply do not have the right style to play as a Cheika/Gibson 12. Lilo and Horwitz have the style but seem to be lacking the skills to execute well in the role. A ball playing 12 is also key to getting the most out of Folau and Hooper in attack.

      From a Tahs perpective let’s hope Horwitz can step up next season and become more like Toomua. This was only his first season after all.

      I appreciate the other option is to change the Cheika/Gibson style, but I hope they persist with it. When it works it is both entertaining and effective. They have been unlucky with injuries and availability issues to key players this year so I don’t believe it is time to abandon it just yet. The one area where I hope they do tweak that style is to improve the contestibility of kicking. I note from the match description that one of the Blues tries was scored from yet another kick downfield that was easily retrieved by the opposition, then quickly returned by them to an attacking position.

      • Baz

        So if the Cheika model is so reliant on having a 2nd play maker, why did he select Kerevi who is better suited at No. 13 as his inside centre in the 1st 2 England tests?

  • Marcus

    And so it ends… A season that saw home and away losses to the very average Brumbies, a home loss to the below average Rebels, homes losses to Kiwi sides Highlanders & Hurricanes and away losses to Crusaders & Blues. So much for the hopes after the Chiefs win and the encouraging display in Tokyo against the dreadful Sunwolves. This is a Waratahs side who for most of the season played with little skill, little imagination and on many occasions questionable dedication. It was a playing group where too many guys felt far too comfortable in their position and without bully boy Cheika there to boot their arses, failed to set a proper standard for the others to follow. Michael Hooper tried. Israel Folau tried. Too many others went through the motions in preparation and game day performances. A team that within 2 years goes from title winners to losing 7 games and missing the play-off’s says a lot about player attitude. Mean reversion has occurred. Same old Waratahs!

    • Davo

      On the positive side, the Tahs started the season with the worst scrum in the competition, narrowly avoiding a penalty try against the Reds in their first game by cleverly running out of props so that scrums became uncontested.

      Then in the last game of the season they get two penalty tries from scrums!

    • Willem Labuschagne

      The two big disappointments of the Super Rugby season have been the Jaguars, full of players who made it to the RWC quarterfinals, and the Brumbies. Many picked one of those teams to win because of their strength on paper. One has to wonder what happened. In particular, one has to ask how a team coached by Bernie Larkham, at his best the most dangerous running fly half in the world with a wonderful cut-out pass, could end up with the maul as their only effective weapon.

      The Waratahs have had periods in their games when they looked the goods because there was flow and all 15 players contributed. They even extended this to all of one unforgettable game, against the Chiefs, when they looked organised in attack to such a degree that few questions were ever asked of their defence. Unfortunately, at other times it looked as if they had 13 passengers who were waiting for Hooper and Folau to win the game. Folau is a threat on attack but not.a player with a well-rounded array of skills, with the exception of his skill under th high ball. He’d be a remarkable winger, but at full back his kicking is average and at centre he doesn’t get the chance to use his ability under the high ball to the same extent as the back three do.

      Among the good things the Waratahs can take out of the season is the improvement in their scrum. One wonders how much of this is due to the remarks made by Benn Robinson about Coach Gibson not taking scrum preparation seriously enough. Things certainly improved after that breaking of protocol.

      The weakest link in the Waratahs is also the weakest link in the Wallabies — Nick Phipps is a number 9 with no mental toughness whose passing technique crumbles under pressure, and his erratic form has to be a major factor in Foley’s own unsatisfactory form. The other major factor that affects Foley, as has been pointed out, is whether he has a number 12 who can share the decision-making burden. A large part of the improvement in the Blues is due to the way Piers Francis has taken pressure off Ihaiah West, so a second playmaker is important for some players. Not the Dan Carters, but the Foleys and Wests. Where o where is the next Matt Giteau going to come from?

  • Seb V

    Foley still kicking like crap. He gets worse under pressure – eg the last 20mins: That poor kick-off and throwing that wayward pass. He really needs KB inside him to take off the pressure – he can’t do it all himself which seems to be what he is trying to do.

  • Andy

    The biggest worry is there doesnt appear to be a good standard of juniors coming through. So when these players retire or piss off somewhere else there are no potential world beaters replacing them. And that’s for all teams.

    But agree on the calls above. No skill or brains in oz rugby anymore. I’d take one of them but to beat NZ teams you need both.

  • Jeremy

    The Waratahs should really enjoy their off-season. Feels like they’ve been on holiday since about Week 2 this year. What an underwhelming bunch of clowns.

  • AB

    Agree with most of the pessimism in comments re. tahs season – it was very disappointing – however there were a couple of upsides – Jack Dempsey looks a very gutsy and skilled loose forward with some great breaks, offloads and tackles through the season, Andrew Kellaway improved a lot through the season and looks to have a smart rugby brain – he will never be an Israel Folau but he might develop into a Ben Smith which may be more important. Needs to significantly improve his kicking game though if they want him to stay at fullback.

NSW Waratahs

Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

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