Thumbs down for Michael Foley
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There was a graphic photo in the Sydney Morning Herald last week of beleaguered Waratahs coach Michael Foley giving the thumbs down sign right under the headline “Foley set to announce he is staying with the Waratahs”.
A contradiction in terms if ever there was one.
After last night’s 19-15 loss to the Brumbies at ANZ, thumbs down would be the more accurate of the two statements.
In another woeful and ill-disciplined performance, Foley’s debut season now boasts 11 losses, with seven of them on the trot. These are both records for the Waratahs.
Yet last night the Waratahs had 10 Wallabies on duty, the Brumbies five. That stat meant nothing as the Brumbies kicked downtown and waited for a mistake.
They rarely had to wait long as the Waratahs gave away six penalty shots at goal. Both Zac Holmes and Jesse Mogg obliged by slotting two out of three each – a gift-wrapped 12 points.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, consistent turnovers by the Waratahs kept the Brumbies on top to lead 9-5 at the break. In the end it was 18 Waratahs turnovers to nine.
The Waratahs were more spirited in the second half to lead 15-9 with 23 minutes left on the clock, but reverted to type by giving away a try and two penalties in the space of seven minutes.
And that was that.
There can’t be any doubt, it has to be thumbs down for Michael Foley’s future and the Waratahs hierarchy mustn’t escape censure and change, either.
There’s a malaise in the franchise from top to bottom, underlined by manager Chris Webb tendering his resignation after five years in the job.
He has been a popular and diligent manager whose heart is all Waratah. If he’s had enough there’s something radically wrong.
It’s the opposite side of the coin for the Brumbies, who were a basket case last year. Former Springbok World Cup winning coach Jake White has performed wonders and done so virtually overnight.
But despite the win last night, White can’t be too excited, except for the fact the Brumbies still have a 5-point lead over the Reds in the race for automatic finals qualification by topping the Australian Conference.
The second-placed Australian team mightn’t have enough points to make it in the top six, so to top the Conference is imperative.
The biggest worry for the Brumbies and Reds is that both only scored one try this round. No team can progress in finals rugby without scoring their fair share of five-pointers.
Let’s see what happens next week in the final round when the Brumbies meet the lowly Blues in Canberra, and the Reds take on their arch-rivals, the Waratahs, at Suncorp.
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