Super Rugby Review: Waratahs

Date published: July 18 2016

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With the Super Rugby quarter-finalists now decided we take a look at those teams who missed out. Next up, the Waratahs.

Not making the quarter-finals is disappointing for the 2014 champions as poor form earlier in the year eventually came back to haunt them.

Losing to the Brumbies, Highlanders, Rebels and Brumbies again by Round 8 left them well off the pace in Australia and it was no surprise to see the team from Canberra hold on to claim the only play-off spot available as Conference winners. New Zealand took the other places.

They then won six of their next seven games and with the Brumbies wobbling towards the end, there was a chance of the 'Tahs topping their country's table. But they lost at home to the classy Hurricanes and then last up at the Blues too as their season drew to a premature end.

One positive that probably won't mean much for the Waratahs was that Israel Folau finishing the regular-season on top of the try chart on 11 scores, made more impressive by the fact he was playing in a new position of outside centre. The jury remains out though on whether he will continue in that shirt for Australia in the Rugby Championship seeing as they are well stocked at 13 and not so much with full-backs.

They scored 55 tries this season, one fewer than the Brumbies, and conceded 37, which is three fewer than their rival. There is definitely room for improvement in the latter area though as they were ranked 12th on the tackle percentage table while their line-out also misfired.

It is unsurprising to see Folau was their top carrier with 173 while only Dane Haylett-Petty made more metres than him, which is positive for Australian rugby. Tireless flanker Michael Hooper made the most tackles for the 'Tahs with 154 to his name in a pack that enjoyed a 94 percent success rate on their own put-in, with the emergence of 22-year-old back-row Jack Dempsey a major positive. He looks a real talent.

Of course all those stats would be traded for a stronger early-season and a place in this week's quarter-finals. But bad days at the Super Rugby office ultimately came back to haunt the Waratahs, who now lose Kurtley Beale, Dave Dennis, Wycliff Palu and Benn Robinson, with the post-mortem set to begin as Daryl Gibson looks to respond in 2017. His first port of call will be making sure they hit the ground running.

Best player: Jed Holloway and Jack Dempsey impressed in the forward pack but it is hard to look past what Israel Folau gives the Waratahs. Opposition sides continue to struggle to contain the Wallaby which is incredible with all the analysis and preparation they must do before facing him. His move to outside centre gives him more ball and he clearly relished that as despite finishing 10th, he topped the try chart.

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