This evening’s match at the Sydney Football Stadium showcased the tough, grinding style of play we’re coming to expect from local derbies, with Berrick kicking the ball so many times his calf cramped. All up there were 76 kicks from hand — 44 by the Force and 32 by the Tahs.
Sitaleki Timani with his two rat’s tails was the go-to man with many strong runs and was also busy in defence. He’s hit a great patch of form and is providing the go-forward that the Waratahs are missing from Cliffy and TPN. His handling has improved noticeably in the last few weeks.
John Ulugia had a pretty good night. He was solid in the scrums and several pressure throws were executed perfectly. Unfortunately, his two crooked lineout throws were into 5-metre attacking lineouts.
Lachie Turner had a good night, notably putting on a great step for a 40-metre line-break. That and a nice break by Luke Burgess around the back of a lineout were the Waratahs’ biggest attacking chances in the first half.
For the Force, the honey badger Nick Cummins almost scored after toeing the ball over the line and back in field. Alas, this gave Soseni Anesi enough of a headstart to win the foot race to the ball.
Kurtley Beale was excellent contesting the Force’s midfield bombs, although on one occasion paid for this when Dick Brown took him out in the air and hurt Kurtley’s leg. Somehow this act led to a Force penalty and their regaining of the lead. Kurtley’s goal kicking was not great, though one miss bounced back off the post into the arms of a chasing Ryan Cross for the Waratahs’ first try.
Of big concern was Nathan Charles being taken from the field on a stretcher in a neck brace after knocking himself out cold by headbutting Tom Carter‘s knee.
The Waratahs set up camp in the Force’s 22 in the second half. Twenty-four phases of pick and drives got them a scrum in front, and after several resets Stuart Dickinson advised the front rows “Just get it right, people are getting bored of this rubbish.” The Waratahs won the next scrum and a few pick and drives later Ulugia scored his first Super Rugby try under the posts.
At full time the Tahs were awarded a penalty five metres out. Rather than go for the penalty the Tahs kicked the ball out, gifting the Force a bonus point for losing by 5. Here’s hoping that one doesn’t come back to bite us at finals time.
Half Time: Waratahs 6 (Beale 2/4), Western Force 9 (O’Connor 3/4).
Full Time: Waratahs 20 (Tries: Cross, Ulugia), Western Force 15 (O’Connor 5/6)
Moses’ Man of the Match: Sitaleki Timani