Foley and White feeling the Super Rugby pinch

David Lord Columnist

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    Jake White. Source: Alan Porritt / AAP

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    This Super Rugby round will be vital to coaches Michael Foley and Jake White. Waratah Foley is in Perth to do battle tonight with a resurgent Force, hoping Friday the 13th is but a myth.

    Brumby White has the top of the Australian Conference to defend tomorrow night against the improving Rebels at Canberra Stadium.

    The defending champion Reds have a bye to lick their wounds after three successive defeats, and to count the days to when Quade Cooper, Mike Harris, Ben Lucas, and the Fainga’a twins return from injury.

    On paper, the Waratahs and Brumbies should win. But should, and paper, don’t count anymore.

    The Waratahs are coming off a bye, so they’re fresh. Foley has made the understatement of the season that it’s time his team made some noise.

    The Waratahs are a far better side than two wins and four losses, and have the backline cattle in Berrick Barnes, Tom Carter, Rob Horne, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Bernard Foley, and the exciting young winger Tom Kingston, providing the pack can win them clean and quick ball.

    There’s the problem – David Pocock.

    The Force’s inspirational captain and one of the best pilferers in world rugby, Pocock is a one-man destruction unit. Throw in the likes of evergreen lock Nathan Sharpe, Richard Brown, Nathan Charles, and Toby Lynn, and the much-vaunted Waratahs pack will be under intense pressure for the entire 80 minutes.

    There is a litmus test here, In their last games, the powerhouse Chiefs have beaten the Force 20-12, and the Waratahs 30-13. But in the credit column, the Force hammered the Reds 45-19 in their previous game.

    This Force-Waratahs clash should go down to the wire, especially as NIB Stadium is likely to be a full house.

    In Canberra, how Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor play for the Rebels will severely test the Brumbies, who have found a new lease on life under Jake White.

    The South African Rugby World Cup-winning coach believes the Brumbies can keep Beale and O’Connor quiet. A mighty big call.

    Concentrating on the talented twosome will leave plenty of holes for Mark Gerrard, Lachlan Miller, and Mitch Inman to show their speed to great effect. Having said that, Beale and O’Connor invariably find a way around close marking.

    Watch for Brumby full-back Jesse Mogg, one of the most exciting custodians in the tournament, bobbing up from nowhere with incisive runs on a regular basis. He doesn’t look the part, but he sure fulfils it.

    Flanker Michael Hooper is another Brumby to watch. He’s a junior Pocock.

    This game should be close, as well.

    In the wash-up, it’s Michael Foley, Jake White, and two question marks? The underdogs are barking.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (28)

    • April 13th 2012 @ 6:35am
      kingplaymaker said | April 13th 2012 @ 6:35am | ! Report

      ‘have the backline cattle in Berrick Barnes, Tom Carter, Rob Horne, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Bernard Foley, and the exciting young winger Tom Kingston, providing the pack can win them clean and quick ball.’

      I’m afraid I can’t agree with this. The Waratahs pack often dominate matches but the failure of the backs to make the slightest penetration in the opposition defence, let alone score tries, means the team loses.

      AAC is way past it, Horne disastrous and Carter aside from the occasionally ok performance dire. Even Kingston isn’t that exciting.

      If Mitchell and Turner were fit things might be different, but now the backline is not so much the Achilles heel as the Achilles leg or half-torso of the team.

    • Columnist

      April 13th 2012 @ 7:16am
      David Lord said | April 13th 2012 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      KPM, tonight the backline you have sold short, will be the difference between winning and losing. Having said that I’d be even more confident of their success if Sarel Pretorius was starting at 9.

      • April 13th 2012 @ 8:59am
        rl said | April 13th 2012 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        David, I reckon that would be true IF the Tahs pack can at least achieve parity against the Force pack. Big ‘if’. That backrow is simply outstanding, and Sharpey is showing the sort of form that would make him just about a walk-up start in any other country. The Force are lying in wait… they won’t have forgotten the very poor performance they put in at home against the Tahs at home last year, and the Tahs are missing all the vital ingredients from their win last year (Burgess, Turner, Beale). Time for the NSW front row to make a statement.

        One of the Force’s achilles heels is in the halves, yet they have a world-class no 9 warming the bench. Foley is planning to unleash Sarel as the defences tire?

      • April 13th 2012 @ 9:12am
        Justin said | April 13th 2012 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        David KPM is right – The Tahs backline is full of plodders and just above average players mostly. The only highlights for them at this stage are Kingston and McKibbins goal kicking.

        What else in that back line would have an opposition shaking? Horne hasnt broken the line since under 12s, Carter will run straight ahead, Barnes will kick and if not throw 3 man cut outs that are high and behind the man all night. Meanwhile they have their best 10 option playing at 15 and he has been disappointing so far.

        Kingston may end up being an excellent 13 (his junior position I believe, first season at wing this year) and if Horne doesnt pull his finger out, it will be sooner than many people think.

      • Roar Guru

        April 13th 2012 @ 10:37am
        Sam Taulelei said | April 13th 2012 @ 10:37am | ! Report


        Is that not the same backline that played the Chiefs. In that match the Tahs forwards provided more than enough good ball for their backs to use. There were opportunities created but not finished off.

        I don’t know what the problem is with the Waratahs specifically but watching all the matches to date, constructing tries from setpieces and showing flair or creativity from broken play has been largely missing from all the Australian backlines so far.

    • April 13th 2012 @ 7:30am
      kingplaymaker said | April 13th 2012 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      David let’s hope they turn up trumps: certainly Rob Horne must have some talent and who knows what Kingston has up his sleeve. Pretorious indeed seems to be the keystone though.

    • Columnist

      April 13th 2012 @ 9:36am
      Brett McKay said | April 13th 2012 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      Lordy, my concern for the Waratahs is that if they follow your suggestion and only concentrate on Pocock, Matt Hodgson will have a field day. I made the observation the other week that the Force playing Brown at blindside and Hodgson at no.8 has freed Hodgson up, allowing him to play more like the opensider that he is. Pocock is still getting the plaudits, and probably rightly so, but I don’t think Hodgson has played better Super Rugby than he is this year.

      In Canberra, the game will be won in the forwards for mine, and with the tweaks Jake White has made to the pack, I reckon he does as well. He’s finally unleashing Fotu Auelua at no.8, Hooper is back at open side, and Mowen won’t play a whole lot differently at blindside. And Jones/Pyle v Carter/Fardy could be worth the price of admission alone…

      • April 13th 2012 @ 9:45am
        jameswm said | April 13th 2012 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        If you think that Brett, you must really love your locks…

        • Columnist

          April 13th 2012 @ 10:16am
          Brett McKay said | April 13th 2012 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          ha, no I don’t, James, but I just mean both sets of locks have been playing really well this year for their relative experience, and are all starting to get noticed, which is great…

      • April 13th 2012 @ 11:20am
        Ilikedahoodoogurusingha said | April 13th 2012 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        I for one Brett am looking forward to the look on Cipriani’s face when Auelua is bearing down on him at full speed. Eddie Jones has certainly been talking him up this morning.

    • April 13th 2012 @ 10:07am
      Gary Russell-Sharam said | April 13th 2012 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      Guys where is the youngest Faingaa brother is he injured or is he just on the outer with White or did he transfer to another Franchise??
      I agree that the game Tahs V Force will be won in the forwards and to that end IMO I would not be surprised to see the Force may edge out the Tahs. It will be a close encounter. In the backlines IMO they are fairly close in ability maybe not on previous reputation but on current form. The Brumbies IMO should shade the Rebels even though the Rebels have O’Connor, Beale, Delve etc I reckon that the Brumbies have the fire power in the forward set pieces to and the turn over ball to beat the Rebels. They will be much better than their form against the Reds

      • April 13th 2012 @ 10:16am
        bmwwilliams said | April 13th 2012 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        Gary, he’s still at the Brumbies. I believe he hasn’t played a game this year due to injury, so I doubt White has had the chance to assess him one way or the other.

        From the promise he’s showed in previous seasons though, he’s definitely one to hang on to.

      • April 13th 2012 @ 11:22am
        Ilikedahoodoogurusingha said | April 13th 2012 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Colby is still on the injured list.

        • April 13th 2012 @ 2:50pm
          Max Power said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

          Which is why Fardy, who’s on an EPS contract is allowed to play. Once Colby is back White won’t be allowed to pick Fardy unless there’s another injury.

          • April 13th 2012 @ 4:20pm
            Markus said | April 13th 2012 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

            I notice they’ve just released Jono Owen for him to sign a short-term contract with the Rebels. Does that open a spot to contract another player into their 30-man squad?

      • April 13th 2012 @ 11:35am
        Justin said | April 13th 2012 @ 11:35am | ! Report

        I would imagine that the Rebels would have him on their radar, he is a good footballer and if Hooper is at the Brumbies then he will want/need match time.

        • April 13th 2012 @ 11:46am
          Markus said | April 13th 2012 @ 11:46am | ! Report

          Yep, mentioned similar the other day.
          Faingaa will have been watching on in frustration as Hooper cements his spot as the team’s top openside, and with Lipman likely to depart the Rebels soon enough, I think they will be looking to snap up one of these two very talented youngsters.

    • April 13th 2012 @ 12:31pm
      Rhino said | April 13th 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

      Reds aren’t licking their wounds with a bye after three successive defeats. They beat top of the table Brumbies last week.

      • April 13th 2012 @ 1:39pm
        Justin said | April 13th 2012 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

        Dont worry Rhino with Lordy Lord you get used to numerous mistakes in his articles and apparently “Lachlan Miller” is a very good footballer too…

        • April 13th 2012 @ 2:39pm
          David Lord said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

          Justin, you are quite right, Lachlan Mitchell not Miller, and he is a very good footballer.

          • April 13th 2012 @ 3:59pm
            Justin said | April 13th 2012 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

            Not from what I have seen in his 2 seasons with the Rebels to date David. Honest yes but he has a LONG way to go to be very good. I’d argue most Rebels supporters hold a similar view.

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