Planet Rugby

Preview: Waratahs v Blues

23rd March 2013 21:17

Share:

luke braid blues v waratahs 2011

Under pressure: The Tahs host the Blues

The Waratahs campaign does not get any easier this weekend as they host a Blues side in excellent form at the Allianz Stadium.

For the Waratahs the stakes cannot be any higher. Another loss at home will surely turn up the heat on a team that is sitting 13th on the combined table and last in the Australian conference.

Whilst they have shown patches of brilliance, and an attacking intent, their unforced errors have let them down, and at the end of night, a loss is a loss. But form isn't their only concern, as they have lost playmaker Berrick Barnes for six weeks to a thumb injury after only just welcoming him back last weekend after a long lay-off, forcing coach Cheika to look to Rob Horne to take his place.

The Waratahs will also be without Polota-Nau and Wycliff Palu as they are both sidelined for another week, but they will be welcoming back Drew Mitchell, who was controversially left out of last weekend's playing squad, because of poor form, but with desperation, comes desperate measures.

Mitchell will take Turner's place on the wing, with Israel Foulau retaining his full-back position, and Bernard Foley and McKibbin making up the centre pairing.

Dissecting the Tahs isn't too complex, the team has the ability on paper, but the burden of anxiety that has been built up chronically over the past few seasons has let the team down, according to Michael Cheika.

The Tahs however will have something that may build their self confidence, knowing that whilst they don't have the best overall record against the Blues, they can take solace in the fact that the Aucklanders have not won in Sydney since 2003.

The Blues camp is boosted with the return of All Black Anthony Buric, who has not played for over 12 months because of a neck injury and will be injected off the bench. Keven Mealamu however has been left out as a precaution by John Kirwan.

The Blues had an explosive start under their new management, having defeated the Hurricanes 34-20 and Crusaders 24-15, but lost to the Bulls a fortnight ago.

Whether the week's bye has done the Blues any favours, we will have to wait and see. The Blues coach has admitted that the team suffered with poor execution against the Bulls, and an inability to change from plan A to plan B.

"We technically didn't get it right against the Bulls and we didn't have the ability to adjust on the football field. We need to be able to do that this week, because the Waratahs will throw different stuff at us," Kirwan told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

There has been talk of the match being front-dominated, or as Kirwan puts it, like "WWF wrestling", which will put the Tahs in an interesting predicament of being sucked in with the forward two rows, or playing the backs with Foulau taking pot-shots at breaking the line.

Against the Cheetahs the Tahs had a strong scrum, and even won a couple of scrums agains the feed. The Blues are brilliant at counter-attack, so the Waratahs will be tested in defence as well, but the feeling is that if the Tahs can get their passes to gel, their ability and gameplan could get them over the line.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Pat McCutcheon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (capt), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson. Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Mitchell Chapman, 19 Jed Holloway, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Ben Volavola, 22 Tom Kingston.

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 George Moala, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (capt), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Jackson Willison.

Date: Sunday March 24
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 16.05 (18.05 NZT, 05:05 GMT)
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Will Houston (Australia)
Television match official: Peter Marshall (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs Leicester19:45
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton Treviso17:00
Glasgow vs Ulster19:35
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs BluesHurricanes vs Blues Preview
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954