Live scores, blog: Blues vs Waratahs
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The Super Rugby finals series gets underway this afternoon as the NSW Waratahs looks to beat the Blues despite their long injury list, and poor record at Eden Park. Join us for the all the live action from 5:30pm (AEST).
The Waratahs have been in finals mode for the last two rounds having needed to record victories in each match to stay in the finals hunt.
The effort has taken its toll, with an injury list a mile long added to with Luke Burgess, the ninth starting player to be out of action, having broken his hand in training during the week.
The Waratahs’ injury list is a sorry sight: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Luke Burgess, Drew Mitchell, Ben Mowen, Sekope Kepu, Al Baxter, Daniel Halangahu, Pat McCutcheon, Berrick Barnes and Rob Horne.
Dan Vickerman has not played enough games for the Waratahs and is therefore unavailable for the side.
Josh Holmes will step into the breach, promoted to halfback to cover for Burgess. Four other changes have been made by coach Chris Hickey from the side that comfortably downed the Brumbies.
Kurtley Beale has been moved closer to the action at five-eighth. Beale has been the player for the Waratahs, and his increased work with the ball will attract keen interest.
Will one of the world’s best fullbacks now become an average fly-half? Perhaps, but Beale is likely to defend at fullback, giving him opportunity to play to his counter-attacking strengths.
The Blues have the luxury of just one alteration to the teamsheet after the win over the Highlanders, as Alby Mathewson goes back to No.9.
The Waratahs do have more momentum, as the Blues have stumbled into the finals, losing four from their last five, and their scrum and line-out may be susceptible.
The Blues’ playmaker, Stephen Brett, is prone to flaky moments and could be vulnerable under pressure.
1. Benn Robinson, 2. John Ulugia, 3. Paddy Ryan, 4. Kane Douglas, 5. Sitaleki Timani, 6. Dean Mumm, 7. Phil Waugh [c], 8. Dave Dennis, 9. Josh Holmes, 10. Kurtley Beale, 11. Sosene Anesi, 12. Tom Carter, 13. Ryan Cross, 14. Atieli Pakalani, 15. Lachie Turner
16. Elvis Taione, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Pat O’Connor, 19. Chris Alcock, 20. Hugh Perrett, 21. Brendan McKibbin, 22. Bernard Foley
1. Charlie Faumuina, 2. Keven Mealamu (c), 3. John Afoa, 4. Anthony Boric, 5. Ali Williams, 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Luke Braid, 8. Peter Saili, 9. Alby Mathewson, 10. Stephen Brett, 11. Lachie Munro, 12. Luke McAlister, 13. Benson Stanley, 14. Joe Rokocoko, 15. Jared Payne
16. Tom McCartney, 17. Tevita Mailau, 18. Chris Lowrey, 19. Daniel Braid, 20. Chris Smylie, 21. Winston Stanley, 22. Sherwin Stowers
Blues v NSW Waratahs at Eden Park, Auckland, kick off at 5.35pm AEST.
Head to Head: Played 16 Blues 10 Waratahs 6
In Auckland: Played 7 Blues 6 Waratahs 1
Last clash: Round 9 2011 – Blues 31 bt Waratahs 17 at Eden Park
Betting: Blues $1.29 Waratahs $3.70
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