My confidence is shaken. 20 minutes into the Reds game against the Brumbies I was feeling pretty good about being on the Red bandwagon. But then it all fell to pieces. Meanwhile, the Waratahs have notched three wins on the trot, even if one of those was against the Sunwolves.
So here then, are the key matchups.
There is a massive difference in the way these two forward packs approach the game. The Tahs have a lighter, more mobile pack that aren’t that effective gaining metres in the tight channels but who will run and defend all day long. The Reds pack is huge, and they love the hard work in tight. They will be looking to barge straight through the middle of the Waratahs and make room for their backs to barge through the Waratahs midfield. The Tahs forwards will look to survive the first half hour of the Reds running at them and hope they run out of puff. With a five-three bench and all their locks starting the Reds will be hoping to wear out the Waratahs with tight work so the won’t have the energy to run free. The lineouts are fairly even but the Reds should have the upper hand at scrum time. In fact, the Reds will be cheering at every scrum called.
The battle of the opensides: Hooper v Wright
Michael Hooper has a long-term hold on the revered Wallaby seven jersey and Like it or not that’s the way it’s going to stay for the foreseeable future. But 20-year-old Wright, who is a more traditional seven, could be wearing that jersey in a few years time. Liam Wright is the odd man out in the Reds pack, at 97 kilos he’s dwarfed by every other player in the squad. He may not be as good as Hooper yet but he’s too young to know that. And ignorance can be a dangerous thing.
On the toe: Foley vs Lance
Or Beale? Foley and Beale share the Waratahs flyhalf/inside centre duties while Jono Lance does it all by himself. Especially with Kerevi at inside centre who’s not known for his distribution and kicking.
But once again the difference between the Waratahs duo and the Reds is stark. While Beale and Foley are hidden in defence Lance spends his entire game defending in the front line. In attack Beale and foley shine where Lance is competent. Foley and Beale will flatten up on quick ball but Lance tends to sit deep no matter what the situation. The Reds will be hoping their forwards and especially Wright can slow up the Waratahs quick ball and shut down the Waratahs pair but I’m not sure what they can do to improve the Reds shonky try-scoring record.
This game is a slippery slope for both teams in a race, along with the Brumbies, to catch the fast-starting Rebels. As always my heart is with the Reds and I can see them winning. But the most likely outcome is a Waratahs win after an early lead for the Reds. If the Reds were hoping to win the battle of the benches they’d be sadly mistaken with plenty of talent on the Tahs bench as well.
Lastly, a special mention of the biggest mismatch of the day. Good luck to 175cm 91 kg Filipo Daugunu up against the inform 195cm 123 kg Taqele Naiyaravoro. A tale of two wingers if there ever was one. Who remembers Rocket Rod Davies up against Samoa’s Alesana Tuilagi. Ouch!
1. Tom Robertson (33)
2. Damien Fitzpatrick (37)
3. Sekope Kepu (113)
4. Ned Hanigan (21)
5. Rob Simmons (4)
6. Will Miller (5)
7. Michael Hooper (86, captain)
8. Michael Wells (21)
9. Jake Gordon (37)
10. Bernard Foley (93, vice-captain)
11. Taqele Naiyaravoro (38)
12. Kurtley Beale (116)
13. Curtis Rona (6)
14. Alex Newsome (6)
15. Bryce Hegarty (18)
16. Hugh Roach (35)
17. Harry Johnson-Holmes (6)
18. Paddy Ryan (97)
19. Tom Staniforth (6)
20. Jed Holloway (29)
21. Nick Phipps (62)
22. Lalakai Foketi (6)
23. Cameron Clark (12)
1. James Slipper (C) – Bond University
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank
3. Ruan Smith (run-on debut) –GPS
4. Izack Rodda – Easts
5. Kane Douglas – Norths
6. Lukhan Tui – Souths
7. Liam Wright – Easts
8. Caleb Timu – Souths
9. James Tuttle – GPS
10. Jono Lance – University of Queensland
11. Izaia Perese – Easts
12. Samu Kerevi – Souths
13. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths
14. Filipo Daugunu – Wests
15. Aidan Toua – Easts
16. Alex Mafi – Bond University
17. JP Smith – GPS
18. Sef Fa’agase –University of Queensland
19. Adam Korczyk – University of Queensland
20. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
21. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland
22. Hamish Stewart – Bond University
23. Jordan Petaia – Wests