Amongst the flotsam and jetsam from the Waratahs sunken season, I’ve been trying to find some positives for this week’s game against the Cheetahs.
The best one I can come up with so far is that at least one team with ‘tahs’ in their name will win.
Actually, that’s not true and there are a couple of things to look forward to for the clash at altitude in Bloemfontein.
One is the return of Drew Mitchell for the first time since his ill-fated World Cup comeback.
Schmoo has been named at 11 and seeing him back on the field really is a big positive for both him and the Waratahs as a team.
His presence as an attacking threat and as an on-field leader in an often rudderless backline have really been missed this year.
Who knows, with him on the field a couple of those close losses could have been wins.
Whether Drew will be effective after such a long lay-off is another question, and you would think he will only feature during the first half, with Tom Carter to move in at 12 and AAC shifting out to the wing to replace him.
Although he’s coming off the bench, it will be good to see Sarel Pretorius up against his old team too.
Feel free to share any other positives you can come up with in the comments!
Waratahs: 15. Bernard Foley, 14. Tom Kingston, 13. Rob Horne, 12. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 11. Drew Mitchell, 10. Berrick Barnes, 9. Brendan McKibbin, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Dave Dennis, 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Sitaleki Timani, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson (c). Res: 16. John Ulugia, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Richard Stanford, 19. Lopeti Timani, 20. Sarel Pretorius, 21. Daniel Halangahu, 22. Tom Carter
Cheetahs: 15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Rocco Jansen, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Willie le Roux, 10. Riaan Smit, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Ashley Johnson, 6. Heinrich Brüssow, 5. Andries Ferreira, 4. Izak van der Westhuizen, 3. WP Nel, 2. Adriaan Strauss (c), 1. Coenie Oosthuizen. Res: 16. Hercu Liebenberg, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Francois Uys, 19. Justin Downey, 20. Tewis de Bruyn, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Philip Snyman
Date: Saturday 26 May. Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein. Kick-off: 1705 local, 0105 (Sunday) AEST.
Referee: Craig Joubert. Assistant Referees: Sindile Mayende, Stefan Breytenbach. TMO: Gerrie Coetzee.
The season is effectively over for both teams, and the talk from both camps during the week has been of trying to restore some pride.
With that in mind, you’d think both ‘tahs’ will want to run the ball and spread it wide as often as possible.
It could come down to back three v. back three and the Tahs should do the job there with Mitchell back on the paddock over Pakalani and both Foley and Kingston in good form.
The back row battle will be interesting too, with Dennis, Alcock and Palu facing a strong Cheetahs row of Brüssow, Johnson and van der Walt.
This really could go either way, but after getting fairly close against the Stormers the Tahs must finally be ready to chalk up an away win. As usual, they have the class to do it but it will all come down to execution.
Waratahs by 8.
Thanks to Paarlbok in the forums for the title for this week’s preview too!