Waratahs 26 – Lions 3
Ok, let’s forget the first half because it really isn’t worth remembering. The sides went in at nil all, the Tahs having committed 15 handling errors, often killing off promising attacking movements. But in a torrential downpour, it was many of the younger players – some surely pushing for Wallaby selection – who stepped up to the plate and delivered this important 4 try bonus point victory in the second half.
Just as last week against the Force, the Tahs defense was outstanding. They look completely at home on the back foot and seem to relish the chance to force the opposition into a turnover. To date they lead the Aussie teams defensively by a country mile, having conceded only 16 tries, the closest rival being the Reds at 23 tries against. This also puts them in the top 4 teams overall for points conceded (only halfway through this weekend).
Take a bow Les Kiss, and not just for your name. The best Wallaby teams have been built on solid defense, so this is a great sign.
For the rest of the review, here are a few player ratings, let me know if they agree with yours. Note how well many of the younger or newer players like Burgess, TPN, Beale and Horne have done. This is a great sign for the Tahs, although in many cases not for the older players they’re pushing out.
15. Knorton-Knight Another thoughtfull performance at the back with some good counter-attacking runs. 7/10
14. Lachie Turner. You have to keep reminding yourself of the guy’s age as he looks like he’s been there for ever now. Always dangerous and nearly away a few times, but is suspect on the ground with loose ball. 7/10
13. Rob Horne. Considering he’s not had his 12th birthday yet, this guy is amazing. While he’s greased lightning on attack and hits tackles hard, it’s his defense that has been surprisingly impressive. Just needs some tweaking on the final pass. A future answer for the Wallaby 12 conundrum? 8/10
12. Tom Carter. With some gas outside him now, he suddenly fits into the backline and is working well off Beale’s shoulder. 7/10
11. Lote Tuqiri. That nose-job has done him a power of good. While not quite as outstanding as last week, his work rate in both attack and defense is immense and his pace is right up again. Showing good attitude 8/10
10. Kurtley Beale. Week by week he looks better and better and is growing into the role of director with confidence. This week his distribution was outstanding, the magic pill to Waugh for the first try a great example. His running, defense and place-kicking (3/4) are also greatly improved, just the kicking from hand still missing. 8/10
9. Luke Burgess. An even better game than last week, which was shit hot. Considering who’s around at half-back for Australia, he must surely be playing himself into Gregan’s shoes. His clearing at the ruck is top notch and he seems to be everywhere. On top of that he has the ability to make things happen, including the quick tap to Mumm’s try and the boot downfield, chase, charge-down and what would have been a score if TPN hadn’t got in the way.
From the coach:
McKenzie said it was no coincidence the Waratahs had scored their only two bonus-point triumphs since Burgess gained his promotion to the starting side three weeks ago.
“We brought him into the team because we thought he’d actually improve the performances and he’s done that, so there’s no surprises there from our point of view,” McKenzie said.
As a reminder, you heard about him on G&GR first, last year from Coatsie
Get used to the bench Brett. 9/10 and man of the match
8. Palu. Considering his inability to offload last year, he now leads the comp in this area. Creates go forward with almost every run. 7.5/10
7. Phil Waugh. Still leading from the front and has perfected out of tackle steal. 8/10
6. Dean Mumm. Thought he’d blown a gasket in the first half, but came back strong in the second half and beat 4 men to score the second try. Still playing as a second row though. 6.5/10
5. Aussie Dan. The usual genius at the line-out, but also on his top form in the loose, especially defensively. Would love to see his tackle count. 8/10
4. Will Caldwell. Did blow a gasket and was subbed. Is his skull actually fractured? 5/10
3. Matt Dunning. Did a lot of the hard stuff in the scrum, which is probably why he looked so shattered in the loose. 7/10
2. Polota-Nau. While Link is spoiled in this position, TPN is shading it. His throwing wasn’t half bad considering the conditions and he plays as another back-rower in the loose, busting holes with his flatmate Palu. Just didn’t need to throw that flick pass. 8/10
1. Bennn Robinson. Also solid in the scrum and oh so close to another try. 7.5/10
Replacements: Lyons is a great guy to bring on and Mafi was sharp, chasing down Burgess’ kick. Frier isn’t far off TPN and scored a try. The rest were pretty anonymous, Sheehan demonstrating why he’s on the bench.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Waugh, Mumm, Polota-Nau, Freier
Cons: Beale 3
For the Lions:
Pen: Van Schalkwyk
Waratahs: 15 Sam Norton-Knight, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Will Caldwell, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Al Baxter, 18 David Lyons, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Matt Carraro, 22 Alfi Mafi.
Lions: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Joe van Niekerk, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Dewald Senekal, 3 JC Janse van Rensburg, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Franco van der Merwe,19 Wilhelm Koch, 20 Chris Jonck, 21 Rudi Vogt, 22 Jannie Boshoff.
Referee: Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Nathan Pearce (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)
Assessor: Scott Young (Australia).