Preview: Reds v Waratahs

Date published: March 6 2015

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The Waratahs will be hoping to overcome the Reds for a third straight game when they run out in Brisbane after their bye week on Saturday.

Victories by 27 and 31 points last year ended a run of five defeats against their Australian rivals as the eventual champions showed they were now top dogs in the conference, with the Reds trailing in fourth position at the season's end behind the Brumbies and Western Force.

We don't see much changing in 2015 as the 'Tahs have real experience, power and know-how in their pack in the form of Dave Dennis, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Wycliff Palu and Michael Hooper while the remainder of their impressive eight offer so much with ball in hand.

The Reds will struggle for decent ball and with Israel Folau having not yet got over the whitewash, the 'Tahs and Wallaby full-back could well cause the hosts plenty of problems. Even without the injured Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Cheika's side have the tools to get the job done.

Last time out: The Waratahs were rampant in Brisbane last year as they dominated in a 34-3 victory. Tries came from Jono Lance, Kurtley Beale (two) and Nick Phipps, with the absence of star Folau making the result all the more impressive. Folau did score for the 'Tahs in their Round 2 meeting with the Reds though earlier in the campaign, with Beale and Peter Betham the others to get over.

Players to watch: Seems to have found some form after a difficult year or so at the franchise, but Will Genia will be keen to build on this, especially going up against current Wallaby number nine Nick Phipps. Alongside James O'Connor, their battle with the aforementioned Phipps and Bernard Foley could shape where this result is headed. Also keep a close eye on Kurtley Beale, who was superb against the Reds last year, and the work the whole Waratahs pack gets through. Michael Hooper in particular will be lively.

Team news: Experienced campaigners James Horwill and Ben Tapuai return to the Reds side after last weekend's loss to the Highlanders at Forysth Barr Stadium. The duo replace Marco Kotze and Samu Kerevi, the latter having not recovered from injury. Genia and O'Connor continue their partnership in the half-backs while Adam Thomson, Liam Gill and Jake Schatz are growing as a combination week by week in the Reds back-row.

The Waratahs will enter without consistent performer Ashley-Cooper, who misses out this week due to swelling behind the knee. His place is taken by Matt Carraro while Peter Betham is preferred over Taqele Naiyaravoro, despite the latter having scored two tries against the Force.

Form: The Reds have had a mixed start to the season as an awful opener in Canberra was followed up by an impressive response against the Force. Last week's loss at the Highlanders while disappointing was another positive in the defensive column following that embarrassing defeat to the Brumbies but they must be right on it against the 'Tahs. Speaking of the champions, they enter from a bye week which they went into with a win to their name over the Rebels. That result had followed a tough opening loss to the Force in Sydney that clearly hurt them.

Prediction: We expect the visitors to have too much grunt up front and quality in behind. Waratahs to take this by 15 or more points!

Previous results:

2014: Waratahs won 34-3 in Brisbane
2014: Waratahs won 32-5 in Sydney
2013: Reds won 14-12 in Sydney
2013: Reds won 25-17 in Brisbane
2012: Reds won 32-16 in Brisbane
2012: Reds won 25-21 in Sydney
2011: Reds won 19-15 in Brisbane
2011: Waratahs won 30-6 in Sydney

The teams:

Reds: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Dave McDuling, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Sam Johnson, 23 Campbell Magnay.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jaques Potgieter, 5 David Dennis (c), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Stephen Hoiles, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Jono Lance, 24 Taqele Naiyaravoro.

Date: Saturday, March 6
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 18:40 local (21:40 NZ; 19:40 AUS; 10:40 SA; 08:40 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Rohan Hoffman (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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