As the weeks roll on, it becomes increasingly foolish to tip against the Tahs. Love em or hate ’em, they’re showing a quality missing in the rest of the Aussie sides at the moment, and that’s the ability to win.
I sense the tide of opinion may have turned a little, from waiting (if not hoping) for them to drop off a cliff through their limited game-plan, to now seeing them as having the kind of base that could just go all the way. What if, like last year, now was about the time they kicked on, adding some attacking flair to their 10 man engine. We know they’ve got the personnel in Turner and Tuqiri, just not the ability or inclination so far.
However, even though they’re well poised on the table, the Tahs only have 6 games left to play, and from those probably need at least 20 points. Keeping in mind one of those games is the Sharks away, and suddenly winning against the Stormers at home this weekend looks like it could be a season maker.
On the face of things the Stormers are tough opposition with the likes of Burger, de Villiers, Januarie, Watson and Brits in the side. However, while the Tahs have made the habit of winning the toit ones, the Stormes have been losing them – some pundits putting it down to their thin bench.
For the Tahs, the pack has been nothing short of sensational. Even looking at where they’ve lost some key names, players keep fronting up, Dan Palmer and Ben Mowen being the latest notables. The key battle this week will no doubt be the back row and it’s a clash of the titans. I wonder if Venter will have an eye out for Cliffy after the bitchslapping he got last year.
When it’s all said and done you’ve got to expect the Tahs to grind home in another tight affair, but have the inkling that this backline is waiting to click with Burgess (last week’s highlights below) and the Gahu giving some valuable fluidity last weekend.
Gagger says – Tahs by 5
Waratahs: Sam Norton Knight, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne, Tom Carter, Lote Tuqiri, Daniel Halangahu, Luke Burgess, Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh (captain), Ben Mowen, Will Caldwell, Dean Mumm, Dan Palmer, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Damien Fitzpatrick, Sekope Kepu, Chris Thomson, Luke Doherty, Brett Sheehan, Kurtley Beale, Timana Tahu.
Stormers: Conrad Jantjes, Wylie Human, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (captain), Sireli Naqelevuki, Peter Grant, Ricky Januarie, Luke Watson, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, AJ Venter, Adriaan Fondse, Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, Wicus Blaauw. Reserves: Tiaan Liebenberg, JD Moller, Hilton Lobberts, Francois Louw, Dewaldt Duvenage, Willem de Waal, Percy Montgomery