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Waratahs 25 – Sharks 10
This was the Waratahs 5th straight win in the 2008 Super 14, and their second half four try dicking of the Sharks has rightfully slung them to second in the table. The blueprint for the win was the same as last week – muscle up in the first half, tackling anything that moves, and frustrate the oppo (and the crowd) into submission for the second.
It’s been the mantra of the coaching staff all year – we trust our D and our fitness; put these into action and the attack can folllow. In the first third of a rainy season this seemed pretty hollow, but of late it’s rung true. Is it a pity Link had to go before it bore fruit?
Another line that the tahs have trotted out has been the idea that it’s a steady build through the season that they’ve been looking for – individually and as a team. This has also been coming through. A few players stand out from this perspective:
- Beale – He’s by no means perfect, but yet again today he seemed another step towards a great player. The maturity lies in not trying too much, but what he does is working. Shame about the place kicking
- Palu – from strength to strength. Last year he’d go missing, today he was awesome. His first try actually made me laugh out loud as he bulldozed over 3 Sharks, and this was after he’d bitch-slapped Venter. He’s talked about as the next Kefu, he could even be better
- Tom Carter – I haven’t been easy on the guy, but game by game he looks a real option at inside, even for the Wallabies. The crash ball is a given, and he does it well, but his support play is coming on gangbusters
- Luke Burgess – At times today he took it a step too far, but I’m a fully signed up member of the the Burgo fan club. He makes rugby exciting again while doing the simple things brilliantly – his clearing from the ruck being a prime example. He single handedly doubles the creativity in the Tahs backline.
And this leaves out the likes of Waugh and Tuqiri who are in the best form of their careers. Not just as players but leaders.
Can the Tahs do it though? We’ve been burned before, but by god it looks good right now.
EDIT: To be fair to the Sharks I should mention that they lost their skipper Johan Muller in the warm up, and Freddy Michalak after about 10 minutes. Two pretty big last minute losses to cop. Michalak’s is an ACL tear which means the end of his S14 season.
Tries: Norton-Knight, Palu 2, Carter
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.
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jacques Botes, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 AJ Venter (c), 4 Albert van den Berg, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Johann Muller , 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Grant MacNeill (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)
Assessor: Scott Young (Australia), Lusanda Menze (Performance Auditor) (South Africa).