Sarel Pretorius must start for the Waratahs

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Wycliffe Palu was one of Round 10's best performers. AAP Image/Tony McDonough

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    The Waratahs won’t reach the Super Rugby playoffs while marquee half-back Sarel Pretorius remains on the bench. Last night the Waratahs did it the hard way in beating the Force in Perth 23-18.

    While starting half-back Brendan McKibbin was on duty for 60 minutes, the Waratahs led 10-3 at the break and 17-3 two minutes into the second half.

    But the Waratahs had enough ball in the first half to win two games, with 62% possession, spending 60% in Force territory, and 3 minutes 11 seconds in the Force 22 as against the Force’s 30 seconds in reply.

    For the icing on the cake, the Waratahs won the rucks and maul 43-23.

    Totally dominant for just 10 points, thanks to a pedestrian McKibbin who chocked a backline keen to run. The Waratahs should have cracked 30 points by half-time and the game would have been all over.

    Had Pretorius started, a 30-point first half haul was almost certain.

    With all that possession and territory, he would have had the backline hunting for the four-try bonus by the break.

    The difference between McKibbin and Pretorius is the South African delivers the ball far faster from set and broken play. Berrick Barnes, Tom Carter and Rob Horne would have so much extra time and space to strut their stuff with that mountain of possession.

    It was not to be. Hopefully by next week against the Rebels, followed by the tough assignment against the Crusaders, the half-back problem will be sorted.

    From one-way traffic in the first half, the third quarter saw an incredible transformation. In that 20-minute period the Force came alive with 79% possession and were camped in the Waratah half and 22, forcing the visitors to defend as though their lives depended on it. The result certainly did.

    By the 63rd minute the Force led 18-17 for the first time with a distinct sniff of victory. They had come from nowhere scoring two tries in posting 15 unanswered points, 10 of them while Waratahs full-back Bernard Foley was in the bin.

    Game on.

    The last 17 minutes ended up an arm-wrestle, the result up for grabs. But the Force lost their discipline under pressure by giving away three kickable long range penalties – Barnes landed two of them and that was that 23-18.

    Surprisingly, the much vaunted Waratahs pack was at its best when benchmen Jono Jenkins, Paddy Ryan, John Ulugia, and the Timani brothers Sita and Lopeti took over late in the game.

    For the Waratahs, David Dennis had a huge game, highlighted by his 30 metre sprint to touch down just after half-time after winning lineout ball, Tatafu Polota-Nau had his best game in weeks, Wycliff Palu was always dangerous, Berrick Barnes directed traffic apart from the odd wayward kick, and Pretorius livened up the backline, even though they were pretty much done.

    For the Force David Pocock had a quiet game by his lofty standards in the first half, but burst forth in the second to claim man-of-the-match, while Matt Hodgson, Nathan Sharpe, Toby Lynn, Nick Cummins, and full-back-turned-fly-half David Harvey were outstanding.

    Even though there were 18 Wallabies on duty, the game never reached that standard. But it was entertaining thanks to sensible and clearly understood refereeing from Kiwi Glen Jackson that had the 12,838 crowd involved from start to finish.

    Jackson is the refereeing find of the year. In only his sixth game in control, the 36-year-old was fit, fast, and very much in control. He only retired in late 2010 but has been fast-tracked by the appointments board that deserve praise.

    Jackson played 60 games as fly-half for the Chiefs from 1999-2004, accumulating 404 points, and 1505 points for Saracens from 2004 to 2010 over 130 games.

    He is a breath of fresh air and will be in demand from all 15 franchises.

    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 (45)

    • April 14th 2012 @ 7:14am
      Justin said | April 14th 2012 @ 7:14am | ! Report

      From what I saw both teams need decent 10s. Harvey’s hands are painfully slow and is not a long term solution. His goal kicking is pretty good though.

      David you got it wrong in your piece – The Tahs won’t win the comp with Barnes at 10. He needs to go back to 15 and let Foley run the ship. In fact the 10-12-13 channel is ordinary. The Tahs are no chance.

      • Columnist

        April 14th 2012 @ 7:46am
        David Lord said | April 14th 2012 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        Justin, I agree with you entirely, I never said anything about the Tahs winning the tournament. But Berrick Barnes is a lot better 10, when Sarel Pretorius is on duty.

        • April 14th 2012 @ 8:38am
          Justin said | April 14th 2012 @ 8:38am | ! Report

          Apologies David, yes you were talking finals. My position stands and after now watching the first 30 this morning. Barnes either kicks poorly, too often or throws long inaccurate cut out passes that just allows the defence to drift easily.

          McKibbin passed pretty well from what I saw and Sarel would not have got them 30 points

        • April 14th 2012 @ 10:21am
          mikeylives said | April 14th 2012 @ 10:21am | ! Report

          Not sure what your anti-McKibbon agenda is David, but he distributed pretty quickly and accurately. Sarel in fact appeared a bit slower in recycling the pill. Sarel worth another 20 points? Dreaming.

          Tahs were unlucky not to get a pushover try when Palu lost control of the ball and Barnes took some horrid kicking options in the first half. Barnes is talented enough to launch counter attacks (NB I saw him look at his teammates and point to the air prior to a 22 dropout from the force, which suggests his up and unders are pre-meditated). He needs to run it back first and kick if his options are shut down or if there is an obvious gain that presents itself.

          • April 14th 2012 @ 3:11pm
            bluerose said | April 14th 2012 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

            the ref send Foley to the sin bin and the next maul Palu came from the side and pulled it down, isnt that a yellow card infringement after he just warned the Waratahs?

            • April 14th 2012 @ 3:17pm
              PeterK said | April 14th 2012 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

              jackson heavily favoured the force, not once did he look if they were offside but endlessly penalised Tahs for it.

              The scrum that was reset at the end was error in law, it was a new scrum time was up, it should of been game over.

              so it is rich complaining he didnt help the force even more.

              • April 14th 2012 @ 3:37pm
                sittingbison said | April 14th 2012 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

                Rubbish Peter, he didn’t favour the Force. He had the two ARs yabbering all night about looking out for force infringements, yup that’s right “force” infringements not “infringements”. He was going to send a Tah off at that point, but didn’t when AR couldn’t furnish the number. Blind Freddy AR couldn’t even confirm a try despite being 3m away and looking straight at at, and couldn’t see crooked throws from TPN.

                Then we have Kafer suggesting Force should get more penalties against them.

                Sure the scrum reset was a mistake, but for all Lordies praise the guy had no idea about scrims, there was barely a decent one all night and that’s not Maafus entire fault

              • April 14th 2012 @ 4:01pm
                PeterK said | April 14th 2012 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

                the throws were straight, draw a line down the middle of the lineout BEFORE it closes and check where the ball ends up. Charles had more latirtude than TPN in lineouts. TPN had one called not straight and he had to right down the middle but charles threw to his side.

                Thats right the AR’s did report a lot of Force infringements BUT Jackson ignored them and kept penalising the Tahs.

                Maafu was a disgrace as a prop. There were few decent scrums because the force props folded like deck chairs with the pressure they were put under, and rightly penalised. Even here Jackson made the props packs really close and try and take away the hit.

                Kafer is the only aussie commentator I respect the others are too one eyed and seemingly dont understand the laws.

                Kafer was right the force should of been penalised more.

              • April 14th 2012 @ 8:58pm
                sittingbison said | April 14th 2012 @ 8:58pm | ! Report

                Sorry Pete you are wrong, I was at the game and can categorically report TPNs throwing was abysmal, it got to the point the crowd was laughing, and there wasn’t much to laugh about with this game.

                Ask yourself why a force scrum that has more than held its own all season suddenly couldn’t hold a single scrum against the same pack they held four weeks ago. Sure Maafus is a worry, but he wasn’t totally to blame the ref didn’t have a clue what was going on. In fact the very next scrum after he was sent off Robinson went down like a pack of cards and no whistle either way.

                Look at the performance or lack thereof of both teams- the ref was very ordinary at the set pieces and breakdown for both sides.

    • April 14th 2012 @ 7:22am
      Crashy said | April 14th 2012 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      Will be interesting to see how they progress in the final third of the season with elsom, vickerman, pakalani and possible drew Mitchell back. It’s a long season sodas long you are thereabouts by midseason you have a real shot at the finals. The last game against the reds could be a real road bump.
      Force are a well coached team and I hope they knock off some of the Staffa and kiwi teams.

    • April 14th 2012 @ 7:27am
      Crashy said | April 14th 2012 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      I guess shared needs to web rotated at some stage so as long as we are winning while he is on the bench we are ok. The rebels game should be a formality but the shaders on a sunny afternoon should be a massive test.

      • April 14th 2012 @ 8:40am
        Justin said | April 14th 2012 @ 8:40am | ! Report

        Rebels a formality – that smells like the Cheetahs game last year 😉 NSW couldn’t be that arrogant again could they? Mmmm… Maybe.

    • April 14th 2012 @ 7:29am
      Crashy said | April 14th 2012 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Sorry re spelling- damn iPad predictive text. I meant to say say that Sarel needs to be rotated to preserve him for the rest of the season.

    • April 14th 2012 @ 8:32am
      Sailosi said | April 14th 2012 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      For the waratahs to be successful, pakalani when fit must be fullback, foley to 10, sarel at 9 and berrick fighting for a bench spot.

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    • April 14th 2012 @ 8:44am
      nickoldschool said | April 14th 2012 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      ” Had Pretorius started, a 30-point first half haul was almost certain.” let’s not get carried away: Pretorius started the match against the same WF a month ago and the Tahs lost 20-21, at home. McKibbin could have done better yesterday but he was sound with the boot and converted a couple of crucial penalties/conversions.

      • April 14th 2012 @ 10:04am
        p.Tah said | April 14th 2012 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        I actually think McKibbon was better than Sarel last night. his passing was in front of the man. Sarel’s were above the head forcing the runner to lose momentum.
        Kingston’s try can be put down to McKibbon running (not kicking), finding Foley on the fly who then put Kingston in. Obviously McKibbon and Foley work well together. (Fly half/ half combo perhaps in the future?)
        The Tahs opportunity in the first half were partly attributable to the fast ball McKibbon provided. The fact there opportunities didn’t convert to points was because of dropped ball or ruck turn overs not because of McKibbon.

        I think Sarel is a great player as well. Great to have two half backs fighting it out. I prefer McKibon to start because he provides structure and I like Sarel to come on when legs are tired.

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