NSW Waratahs

Highlanders v Waratahs

Highlanders v Waratahs

Both teams won last week, both teams looking for points to keep up with the frontrunners and not let them get away on the table. Its not do or die but its still a key game for both teams.

The Match

Shane Christie was a late withdrawal, replaced in the starting line-up by John Hardie.

The first 20 minutes was all Waratahs. Dominant scrum, big hits and characteristic running and interpassing. The first try was off a short ball from Folau to Hooper who made the break and passed to Phipps to score. Foley missed the conversion. 5-0. The second try was a deceptive blindside move from Phipps with a great pass to Carraro to score under the posts, converted to make the score 12-0.

Despite the score, the Highlanders had been competitive and in the second 20 minutes climbed back into the contest. The Waratahs had been successfully targeting Aaron Smith but after taking the halfback out twice inside the red zone, the last offender (Kepu) was yellow carded. This sparked a Highlander fightback. A scrum under the posts wobbled for the Waratahs but then held. Smith got close and then Franklin scored from a pick and go.  After the restart, the Waratahs made a great move, Folau ran a great line but Fekitoa stripped Folau in the tackle and the ball was passed to Naholo who ran in to score. 14-12 to the Highlanders.

 Naholo – ran into score before half time

 

At half time it had been an absorbing match with great play by both teams. The key for the Waratahs had to be to stop the inaccuracies at the tackle/ruck which had resulted in turnovers. Those turnovers were getting punished by the Highlanders outside backs who were running amok.

In the second half the Waratahs started impressively only to turn the ball over. The Highlanders took advantage and after some good play Ben Smith scored. Sopoaga converted for 21-12. Almost before the crowd settled Osbourne scored a great try – the Highlanders were playing Harlem Globetrotters rugby. Highlanders 26-12 and it looked like they would score 50 but despite some great rugby they did not trouble the scorer again.

In the last ten minutes the Waratahs struck back. From a long kick out from Ben Smith, Beale ran it back, passed it to Folau who passed to Hoiles who scored. Conversion good so 26-19 with a couple of minutes to play. In the last moments the Waratahs went hard on attack but lost the ball at the breakdown (again). The Highlanders cleared to touch to get 5 points with the Waratahs to get a losing bonus point.

A great game to watch with running, inter-passing and big hits. Waratahs lost it because of inaccuracy in their play at the tackle and the breakdown.

 Sam Louisi – had some good runs from the bench

 

The Game Changer

The two tries scored early in the second half meant the Waratahs were always behind the eight-ball.

The G&GR MOTM

Fekitoa was my MOTM because his ball-ripping skills led to the try which was the ultimate difference in the final score.

Wallaby watch

Skelton had a storming game as did Beale.


The Details

Crowd: Unknown

Score & Scorers

Highlanders: 26
Tries: 4 (Franklin, Naholo, B Smith, Osborne)
Conversions: Sopoaga 3/4
Penalties: 0
Waratahs: 19
Tries: 3 (Phipps, Carraro and Hoiles)
Conversions: Foley 2/3
Penalties: 0

Cards & citings

Yellow card: Kepu

NSW Waratahs

Grew up watching Catchpole and Hawthorne, then later the Ella brothers, on Channel Two on Saturday afternoon. Expert commentary by Cyril Towers. No better rugby education ever to be had.

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