Waratahs vs Force - Green and Gold Rugby
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Waratahs vs Force

Polota-Nau proving anything is possible
Waratahs vs Force

The comp starts for both teams with a must-win game. The Force desperate to stay in Super Rugby, the Waratahs desperate to re-establish after the disappointment of last season. All the players desperate to lay down their individual markers. And then the rain, desperate to ruin the spectacle.

THE MATCH

In conditions in which only a Kiwi team would have looked good, both teams battled hard. The Force had the better of the first half but as the game wore on the Tahs expressed their dominance and won the match.

THE RESULT

Waratahs 19 – Force 13

Haylett-Petty runs into Hooper

Haylett-Petty runs into Hooper

FIRST HALF

Conditions were breezy and wet. The Waratahs kicked off, Latu won a turnover penalty at the ruck, Robinson kicked for 3-0. After the kick-off Latu won another turnover penalty at the ruck, Robinson kicked 6-0. Then the Force turned the game around through better field kicking, very fast defensive linespeed and dominating in the tight work. Kepu got a yellow card for a second maul collapse inside the 22 and the Force camped there until Lowrens and Lance combined for a converted try under the sticks. Force 7-6. Robinson got another penalty for 9-7 but the Waratahs were not looking dominant.

Tahs popgun kicking to clear their line was not helping. The Force got two further kickable penalties to go into half time at 13-9. They kicked everything in their own half as you do when its wet.

Jono Lance dives over for his first half try.

Jono Lance dives over for his first half try.

SECOND HALF

Waratahs went onto attack at the start and Phipps tapped a penalty 10 out and passed to Skelton, who bulldozed over. Converted by Robinson to give the Waratahs the lead 16-13. The Waratahs then went close after a great run by Horne. TPN came on at 49 minutes, but Waratahs won the scrum penalty and went to the corner.

Then the big game moment. Skelton took a conventional lineout jump and grab. Who said he couldn’t? The subsequent rolling maul was stopped half a metre short for a turnover. Then a bad high tackle by Meakes on Hooper was only a penalty (look for a post game referral to the judiciary). Waratahs kicked to the corner, won the lineout and the lineout maul was held up over the line. The Force turned it over at the ruck and cleared. Lots of Tah pressure had yielded zero points.

Fisty-cuffs between the Tahs and Force

Fisty-cuffs between the Tahs and Force as Simone thinks about bullying Coleman

The Force cleared and then followed a period of Force dominance which again exposed Hegarty’s short clearances. Coleman then was penalised for a deliberate knock down, There was a massive maul run by the Waratahs which ended agonisingly close followed by a turnover and Force clearance.Then at 72 the Tahs got a scrum penalty that Robinson kicked for 19-13. Hardwick, who had played well, picked up a yellow card for a tip tackle but Robinson had his first miss for the night so the score remained unchanged.

Folau gets inverted in a late yellow card effort by the Force.

Folau gets inverted in a late yellow card effort by the Force.

THE WRAP-UP

The Tahs domination in the second half got them the result but three tries from mauls went begging. Both teams will be buoyed by their intent and attitude but have a lot to work on to improve their performance. Hegarty’s clearances are Foley-lite but Robinson’s kicking was first class. When he missed his last attempt I almost went into shock. Simone looked good in his first outing, but will relish a dry track.

The Force showed lots of good tonight and I think if they keep developing they will be third in the Australian conference. They finally have a team with enough class to achieve that. They will get less sympathetic refs and need to adjust their discipline though. Their newbies did not look out of place – Rona and Peni were excellent.

Dean Mumm grapples with Ross Haylett-Petty

Dean Mumm grapples with Ross Haylett-Petty just to check his underarm

The Game Changer

Skelton’s try turned the game around and the Waratahs never looked back.

The G&GR MOTM

Lots of players were serviceable and Latu had a blinder in the first half but my MotM goes to Will Skelton for his dominant performance in the second half.

Wallaby watch

Folau and DHP were pretty anonymous, though DHP kicked well but blotted his copybook with an awful knock-on. Hooper was Hooper and Latu went well. Mumm and Coleman looked good and Lance was totally composed under pressure.


The Details

Crowd: TBA

Score & Scorers

Waratahs
Tries: Skelton
Conversions: Robinson
Penalties: Robinson (4 from 5)
Force
Tries: Lance
Conversions: Lance
Penalties: Lance (2 from 2)

Cards & citings

Yellow: Sekope Kepu (team infringements collapsing the maul). Richard Hardwick (tip tackle).

  • Huw Tindall

    That’s a pleasantly positive write up. Reading the live blog over on the The Roar it sounded like a dire night of mistake riddled rugby. Tahs sound like they should have put on about 10 more points in the second half. 29-13 sounds much better!

    Can anyone in the Tah’s backline kick? I’ll lose my sh!t if we continue to battle with basic clearance kicks this year.

    • When your 10 is worse than Foley for line kicks you know you are in trouble!

      And Holloway is not on the plane to SA. The Tah backrow did not make much impact in the wet, they definitely needed more grunt than Wells could provide.

      • BF

        ONce again, hooper ineffective at the breakdown.
        He’s equalled his 2016 pilfer count in round 1
        ZERO

  • Pedro

    I think the most impressive aspect for the tahs was that a lot of players contributed a little. Last season it seemed that Hooper our Folau had to make an impact for the tahs to compete and they did. This game though there were several players that did their role very well, without one standout performer.

    The force played quite well, roughly a high octane version of their alter ego, the spirit. Plenty of positives, not least their set piece and territory game, which was better than the tahs’. Their back line didn’t ask enough questions but showed some promise.

    It was a pretty shit game though.

    Thanks for the write up hawko.

    • Arty

      Have to agree a lot of players contributed a little! ..and you think this is impressive.
      And face it, without an active Folau Tahs are ordinary. Put him back to FB now.

  • Dally M

    For all the talk of the new guidelines on hits around the head, i thought the ref was pretty lenient with some of the tackles especially the hit Meakes put on Hooper, which looked pretty deliberate and i was sure would have been a yellow card, possibly even red with the new guidelines yet was just a penalty.

    • Tomikin

      It was deliberate, as before that he was holding Hooper at the ruck and Hooper started swinging arms at his arm, then Meakes went straight after him with a high cleanout, I think he should have gone (by the new laws)

      • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

        I couldn’t follow that ruling where it was only a penalty because ‘Hoops was falling backwards anyway’?
        Reds v Sharps – Hunt was yellow carded when a Sharks player ducked low.
        I’m all for player safety, so wish them luck on how to rule on head highs.

        • Tomikin

          Its all about consistency, I don’t mind how they rule it, but get it the same across all games and then at least everyone know’s what happens.. Hunt’s was no were near as bad as Meakes, but got carded, Meakes should have gone as well… I like his aggression, but I think Im going to think of Billy as a bit of a twat if last night was to go on..

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Yep, when it comes to Refs decisions, you hear the word ‘consistency’ from the players consistently [sorry about that]. No doubt us humble fans would settle for that too.
          But if a player trips into a ‘high tackle’, what then? Bad luck for the tackler I suppose.

        • Pedro

          Also if you do it in the lead up to a try or just prior to a stoppage and they show it on the big screen.

      • Dally M

        I guess it’s still early and they all need to adjust to the guidelines.

        It will be interesting to see if it gets cited under the new process now as well.

  • Arty

    I was one of the few that answered the glut of promotional advertising Emails about this game and turned up. Same stuff, different year, but at least we won unlike 2015 on that fine sunny day. Lucky it was dismal and wet because it hampered the Force just as much and we scrambled a win.
    It was park standard Rugby and deserved free admission.
    If I’m getting pissed after a lifetime of support then what next.

    • Pedro

      A sleeve tat and a bulldog’s membership?

      • Arty

        Not on your life! Thanks for the reality check. I’ll be at the next game.

  • Nutta

    Lots of say, but not much new to say. Pedestrian play and crap execution was the soup of the day. Yeh it was wet but this is professional rugby – they couldn’t even finish off driving-mail tries ffs. Watching the quality (or lack thereof) from the Oz teams this weekend, i get the feeling this if going to be a long year.

    Paddy Ryan and Adam Coleman REALLY don’t like each other do they?!

    • Pedro

      Haha, I think that Ryan came on with instructions to bait Coleman exclusively. Kinda worked.

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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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