Waratahs backline finally clicks
It took five weeks, but finally the Waratahs displayed the attacking flair that Michael Cheika had been asking for all season.
There were quick hands, smart passing, backline movements and running rugby all on display to entertain the crowd, and in the dying minutes the Waratahs held their nerves, made the correct decisions and won the game 30-27 after the siren.
Although it was a great attacking game for the Waratahs, they still weren’t up to the standard expected of them.
Loose balls, penalties in the ruck as well as somewhat soft defence allowed the Blues to take the lead in the first half and almost hold on to a tie in the second half.
Even though the first three minutes looked like it would be last weeks debacle all over again, by the eighth minute the Waratahs moved the ball through the hands and Drew Mitchell found himself over the try line.
The move was simple, run straight, keep the ball in hand and draw the defenders in, and it worked.
Folau drew in the last defender and with a quick flick Mitchell had the ball with only metres to the try line. Eight minutes in and it was 7-3.
However, this lead didn’t last for long, like usual the Waratahs had a great opportunity with the ball, moving downfield and keeping the ball in hand, until they were penalised in the ruck giving the Blues the ball.
This was all the Blues needed to find gaps and get through the defence, by the 12-minute the Blues were ahead 10-7.
The Tahs continued to put the pressure on the Blues with their ball movement and running and were often awarded with penalties as the Blues struggled to hold the Tahs defence.
After Drew Mitchell threw a dummy and found a gap downfield, the Tahs were awarded an offside penalty in front of the posts. At the 23-minute it was all tied up 10-10.
But after such great work the Tahs were unable to hold the Blues back in the last 20-minutes, awarding the Blues penalties and making errors all down the field. By the 29-minute the Blues had made it over the line again.
After several minutes of pressure on the Waratahs defence, the Blues eventually found a gap and were over.
It was only five minutes later that the Waratahs made another fumbling error which saw the Blues over the line again. By the 32-minute the Waratahs were trailing 24-10.
The Waratahs struggled to convert their possession in the last minutes of the half, losing line-outs, dropping balls in tackles and finding themselves on the wrong side of the ruck.
For the fourth time this season, the Tahs entered the change rooms behind in the score.
After yet another Michael Cheika halftime talk, the Tahs entered the field ready to win back the match and in eight minutes they had crossed the line.
After several minutes of fumbling on both sides, the Tahs took control of the ball. This time Foley threw a dummy, found a gap and using support players, Folau was put over the line. The Tahs were catching up to the Blues making the score 24-17.
Yet again the Blues and Tahs forged ahead with the ball, but continued to make mistakes with plenty of dropped balls, ruck penalties and poor passes. Eventually the Tahs held on and after 13-phases, Foley had scored.
The ball made its way back and forth along the back-line, with quick hands and forward movement, the Tahs were drawing with the Blues again, 24-24 at the 66-minute.
With only minutes in the game left, the Waratahs continued to make head way down the field with Tom Kingston making a break down the side line gaining 20 metres, the Tahs were then awarded the penalty bringing the team ahead for the first time in the second half 27-24 with ten minutes left in the game.
This was short lived however, as the Tahs continued making mistakes and awarding the Blues a penalty directly in front of the posts, the scores were again level 27-27 with eight minutes left.
With only minutes left the Tahs held onto the ball and Mitchell again made a massive break downfield, but the Tahs were unable to get the points.
The Tahs kept on the attack, moving the ball up and down the back line, eventually putting Foley in a position to kick for goal, but with only a minute to go he missed.
After a quick restart and moments after the siren blasted, the Tahs were awarded a penalty directly in front of the posts.
Foley made no mistake this time, as he kicked the Tahs to a win, 30-27.
Although it was a messy match with dropped balls, several ruck penalties and loose line-outs, the Tahs will have something to take away for next week, with great attacking flair and tight back-line movements.
Hopefully next week it will be an even better match against the Force, who managed to upset the Reds only two weeks ago.