NSW Waratahs

Preview: Hurricanes v Waratahs

Preview: Hurricanes v Waratahs

Even after spending the weekend off with the bye, the Hurricanes are still sitting pretty on top of the Super Rugby table. With seven wins from seven starts, they’re three points clear of the Chiefs who’ve played an extra game. The Waratahs arrive in Wellington with their collective tail between their legs after a dismal loss to the Stormers. Can the Waratahs conjure a performance to test the rampant Hurricanes?

The form

The Waratahs were not expecting to leave Allianz Stadium last Saturday night with a demoralising loss but that’s where they find themselves. After underestimating the Stormers they were made to pay for careless mistakes when trying to score a winning try and ended up losing soundly. With four wins and three losses and just a miserable two bonus points, they’re languishing in tenth of the competition ladder. An away game that looks very tough on paper doesn’t give their fans much reason to be filled with confidence. In their way are the Hurricanes who will be looking to turn on another exhibition of attacking rugby in front of their Wellington faithful. Having won their first seven games they’re in uncharted territory. How long can they keep their loss column empty?

So here then, are the key matchups.

Foley and Beale against Barrett and Nonu

This matchup has the possibility of being absolutely electrifying… if only the Waratahs combination can produce some form. Barrett and Nonu are spearheading a backline that is setting the competition alight. At this point in the season they could provide the entire shortlist for try of the season. The Waratahs pair have shown little more than glimpses and will clearly need to produce their best match of the season to challenge the high flying Hurricanes. The Waratahs pair will both spend some time at fullback in defence and they’ll have to be very careful with any kicks they make otherwise they could be trying to make a try saving tackle only seconds later.

The Waratahs’ playmakers are not quite clicking at the moment and have paid the price with opposition teams scoring off their errors. They’ll have to be extra careful against the Canes with a backline ready to pounce on any mistakes. Beale needs to find his combination with Peter Betham running off his inside shoulder to help provide some extra options to add some spice to the Tahs backline. When Beale can play flat to the line with options on either side, he has the potential to ignite the Waratahs backline with Foley.


Benn Robinson versus Ben Franks

The most experienced forward in the respective sides will go head to head in the scrums on Saturday afternoon. Both in the midst of strong seasons, Benn and Ben will need to reach into their bag of tricks to get one over their opponent when they pack down. The Waratahs know that they need a strong forward performance to give their team a chance and a strong platform at scrumtime is where that has to start. The style of play exhibited by both sides means that both men will touch the ball plenty of times. The skills of the front rowers can often have a significant impact if they come into the play at a key time. Robinson has been used several times this season playing a run around move with Foley or Beale and needs to be assured with his timing. In contact he needs to focus on his ball retention which has had the tendency to let him down in recent years.

 


Fearless prediction

This doesn’t look like a good matchup for the Waratahs on paper and it doesn’t look like getting much better on the field. They’re providing themselves ample territory and possession to win just about every game, but currently, they’re making too many mistakes to trouble a top team like the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have the ability to score tries from their own goal line and they’re not afraid to attack from opposition mistakes. The Waratahs will need to be ruthless in attack if they’re to stand a chance.

The Hurricanes are playing such excellent rugby right now it’s hard to see them being beaten. Hurricanes by 10.

Hurricanes

1. Reggies Goodes
2. Motu Matu’u
3. Ben Franks
4. Jeremy Thrush
5. James Broadhurst
6. Callum Gibbins
7. Ardie Savea
8. Brad Shields
9. TJ Perenara
10. Beauden Barrett
11. Julian Savea
12. Ma’a Nonu
13. Conrad Smith (c)
14. Cory Jane
15. Nehe Milner-Skudder

Replacements
16. Brayden Mitchell
17. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen
18. Chris Eves
19. Mark Abbott
20. Adam Hill
21. Frae Wilson
22. Rey Lee-Lo
23. James Marshall

NSW Waratahs

1. Benn Robinson
2. Tolu Latu
3. Sekope Kepu
4. Will Skelton
5. Dave Dennis (c)
6. Pat McCutcheon
7. Michael Hooper (vc)
8. Wycliff Palu
9. Nick Phipps
10. Bernard Foley
11. Rob Horne
12. Kurtley Beale
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (vc)
14. Peter Betham
15. Israel Folau

Replacements
16. Tatafu Polota-nau
17. Jeremy Tilse
18. Paddy Ryan
19. Jacques Potgieter
20. Mitch Chapman
21. Stephen Hoiles
22. Brendan McKibbin
23. Matt Carraro
24. David Horwitz
25. Jed Holloway

NSW Waratahs

Too much sport is never enough. Go the Waratahs!

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