Stormers 13 – Waratahs 13
When the Super 14 semi-finals loom, you can always count on the Waratahs to find new ways to bewilder. So on a night with comedy rain coming down (now that’s a power shower) Link McKenzie decides to stick with his masterstroke of benching the one guy in the Tahs who can kind of kick (Sam Norton-Knight) and instead stick the out and out winger Tuqiri at the back.
While this move alone didn’t rob the Waratahs of a badly needed win, it was a symptom of the lack of clarity in thinking that did. In conditions like these, accuracy in the small things count. Sure you can point the finger at Beale for not dropping back far enough to get away the last second drop goal, but if truth be told, one young player more than others will be having a good look at himself.
As Phil Waugh said:
“We had our chances to win this game, every point they scored came from our mistakes, that’s disappointing.”
While there were a multitude of handling errors, it was two howlers from Lachie Turner that blew this game. The mis-fielded kick on the floor (by my count his 3rd this year?) that led to Naqelevuki try, and then the charged down kick he gifted to Human. This game needed a flash of brilliance to win it, the kind that Lachie ’07 could produce. How have we wound up with Lachie ’08?
The last mistake I’ll point out is not paying attention to Kafe’s chalkboard on Inside Rugby. The Tugboat pointed how the Stormers committed no-one to the breakdown and strung them across the park. Take them through the middle of the ruck Kafe urged. For parts of the second half the Tahs did to great effect. For the rest they ran into the dark blue wave strung across the park.
On the positive side the back-row worked their arses off and the front row of Robinson, and wait for it – Baxter – smashed the Stormer scrum forcing two wins against the head. While we still don’t know if the guy can run, Timtam Tahu can sure as shit pass, just like 8 rounds ago when he last played. Carraro and Norton-Knight both showed a good pair of heals on the hoof.
Sure, it was 2 points on the road against a solid side in piss poor conditions. But a home semi now rests on the Blues beating the Canes in Auckland. Even a 5 pointer against the Reds wouldn’t put NSW past a 4-point Hurricanes win on points difference. And this all assumes a win against a dogged Queensland outfit. Oh for a drop goal.
For the Stormers:
Tries: Naqelevuki, Human
For the Waratahs:
Pens: Beale 2
Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Luke Watson, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Brian Mujati.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Pieter Myburgh, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Tony Brown, 22 Dylan des Fountain.
Waratahs: 15 Lote Tuqiri, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Matt Carraro, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 David Lyons, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Sam Norton-Knight, 22 Timana Tahu.
Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Brent Murray (New Zealand), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Assessor: Arrie Schoonwinkel (South Africa)
Timekeeper: Kat Swanepoel (South Africa).