Planet Rugby

Preview: Waratahs v Lions

16th May 2014 10:38

Share:

will skelton waratahs

Presence: Will Skelton

The Waratahs will look to build on their ferocious form at home when they host a resurgent Lions outfit in Sydney on Sunday.

Having won each of the five matches at the Allianz Stadium in what is proving to be a solid season for the New South Wales unit, a sixth successful day in front of their supporters will go a long way in ensuring they build some momentum ahead of two tough away fixtures.

Next week Michael Cheika's men take on the Rebels, who have also taken great pride in their performances at home, before travelling to Hamilton where they will square-off with the defending champions in the last match before the June Tests take priority.

Cheika made just one change to the starting line-up that beat the Hurricanes in their previous match with lock Will Skelton taking over from Jacques Potgieter, who was dropped to the bench as he is struggling with a leg injury.

Skelton, at 140kg, happens to be the biggest man in the Waratahs squad and his presence against one of the best scrumming units in the competition should come in handy.

"The Lions have been excellent in the scrum," said Cheika.

"They've pretty much dominated nearly every opposition that they've come up against, or they've had a really good contest with them, and it's going to be a big battle for our forwards out there."

Traditionally the 'Tahs have prided themselves in their work at the close exchanges, although their ability to pierce through defensive lines with explosive runners like Israel Folau has, in recent times, taken centre stage.

It would therefore be interesting to see whether league convert Taqele Naiyaravoro will be given a run as he too is believed to be one of those wingers who runs through, as opposed to around, other players.

The ideal time to give the 115kg Fijian his first Super Rugby cap would be when his side have a comfortable lead, although Cheika would have taken notes from the Lions' last outing where they saved all their strength for the final 40 minutes of play.

The Lions head into this contest having fallen inches short of what would have been a one of the best come-from-behind victories of the season.

They bounced back from a 23-0 half-time deficit in their match against the Highlanders and would eventually go down 22-23 in the most controversial of circumstances.

Having had more time to adapt to their new surroundings, Lions coach Johan Ackermann had only to make a few tweaks to his side and on that front he has implemented measures to counteract the threat Folau is likely to pose.

Ackermann opted to move Courtnall Skosan from wing to full-back as the experienced Deon van Rensburg makes his return to the squad while fellow winger JW Jonker was rewarded with a start for his solid second half performance the previous week.

The continuity Ackermann has tried to show with his team selection this season has done wonders for the culture that is taking shape within the most inexperienced side in the competition - although it also highlights just how little depth in personnel the former Springbok lock has at his disposal.

The Waratahs have a 93 percent win record against the Lions and are unlikely to let this one slip.

However, Cheika could very well send a thank you note to the Highlanders for highlighting that it is not impossible to lose against a group of players who are still finding their feet after spending a season in the wilderness.

Form: The Waratahs are experiencing one of their best seasons in recent years, and have picked-up four-try bonus points in four of their six victories this season. The Lions started well with four wins, but stand to lose their sixth consecutive match this week.

Previous Results:
2011: Waratahs beat Lions 29-12 in Sydney
2010: Waratahs beat Lions 77-12 in Sydney
2009: Waratahs beat Lions 38-33 in Johannesburg
2008: Waratahs beat Lions 26-3 in Sydney

Prediction: The Waratahs are at their best at home should target the bonus point. Waratahs by 18!

The teams:

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Alofa Alofa, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro

Lions: 15 Courtnall Skosan, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 JW Jonker, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6.Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Rudi Mathee, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Chrysander Botha

Date: Sunday, May 18
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kickoff: 16:05 (local, 06:05 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Andrew Lees (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs SaracensMunster vs Saracens Preview
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks15:15
Castres vs Leinster13:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Grenoble vs London IrishGrenoble vs London Irish Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs Lions17:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs Tasman19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615