Bernard Foley thriving on the Waratah captaincy

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Bernard Foley of the Waratahs. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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    Since Bernard Foley took over the captaincy from the injured Michael Hooper, the Waratahs are looking like a genuine Super Rugby premiership threat.

    Last week was a come-from-behind 31-26 win over closest rivals Rebels, and last night a barnstorming 77-25 success over the Sunwolves to clinch the Australian Conference and an automatic qualification into the playoffs.

    The 77 points broke the Waratahs’ previous best of 73 against the Kings in 2010 and the 12 tries last night was another record, while the runaway train Taqele Naiyaravoro’s two tries took him to 14 for the season to break Israel Folau’s record of 12.

    The knockers will say the Sunwolves were down to 14 men for just over half the game when winger Semesi Masirewa was red carded for dumping Foley head first into the turf, and Fumiaki Tanaka was lucky late in the game to cop a yellow instead of a red for doing likewise to Waratah halfback Jake Gordon.

    But the Waratahs could only play what was in front of them, and they have been very impressive.

    In the two games Foley has led by example, the Waratahs have scored 108 points to 51, crossing for 16 tries to five.

    And it will be tries that will keep the Waratahs in Super Rugby contention.

    This team isn’t as big up front as they were in 2014 when they won their only Super Rugby title.

    They had locks Will Skelton and Dean Mumm, with a back row of Jacques Potgieter, Wycliff Palu and Dave Dennis.

    And the current backline is a better attacking unit, and certainly faster, than the likes of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rob Horne of four years ago,

    Waratah fans will get a better slant on how their troops are faring when they take on the Brumbies in the last of the regulation rounds.

    This will be the first time since 2011 that the Brumbies have missed the playoffs as the most consistent of the Australian franchises over the last seven years.

    So they will have something to prove next weekend which will give the Waratahs the perfect warm-up for the tough campaign ahead.

    And it will feature the head-to-head clash of two of the most exciting fullbacks in the tournament – Israel Folau and Tom Banks.

    Israel Folau

    (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    Folau is the super-star with his supremacy in the aerial battles, his safe hands, deception in full flight, his speed, and try-scoring prowess – another two last night.

    But the 24-year-old Banks might just have Folau covered for sheer speed.

    We’ll see next weekend if Banks has some room to move. He’s a very exciting prospect who must be included in the Wallaby Bledisloe Cup-Rugby Championship squad.

    But first things first, there’s a Super Rugby title to be won, and under Bernard Foley’s leadership, the Waratahs have put their hands up to be counted.

    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 (72)

    • Roar Guru

      July 8th 2018 @ 7:23am
      eagleJack said | July 8th 2018 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      Really happy to have cemented top spot in the conference. I did not expect that at the start of the season. Not sure if they’ll be a premiership threat, given the class of the Crusaders. But the Tahs are definitely tough at home so securing second spot overall becomes very important. They won’t be taking the Brumbies lightly.

      • July 8th 2018 @ 7:53am
        Rob said | July 8th 2018 @ 7:53am | ! Report

        Yep beating the Brumbies for 2nd overall and home games thru to the Final is a must. Can dream about us pinching one match against a Kiwi team at home, but 2 in a row would be extremely unlikely. If we can secure second, who knows, one of those other Kiwi teams might knock off the Cru for us, and we’d have a home Final! Massive game against the Brumbies next week.

        • Roar Guru

          July 8th 2018 @ 8:07am
          taylorman said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

          True, a possibility. Good to see oz teams more competitve in any case. Brumbies went well too. Cheikas gotta be ‘mildly smiling’😀

        • Roar Guru

          July 8th 2018 @ 10:21am
          PeterK said | July 8th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

          brumbies won’t be easy.

          if highlanders have beaten the rebels then they are still with a chance of making the finals if they win with a bonus point.

          • July 8th 2018 @ 2:58pm
            OZ Rugby Fan said | July 8th 2018 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

            I reckon the Brumbies may take the Tahs next week, the Ponies are playing some good Rugby finally. The Tahs seem a bit inconsistent still and the quality of some of their players is pulling them through rather than good, consistent across the board Kiwi style Rugby.

      • Roar Guru

        July 8th 2018 @ 9:31am
        stillmissit said | July 8th 2018 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        If the Waratahs go to sleep against the Brumbies, after winning the Aust.conferance then I don’t expect too much from them in the finals. I think Foley is looking good as captain and seems to enjoy the job, but his kicking is not improving and I would suggest that the Tahs try to get Hayden Parker next season if only for his kicking!

        • July 8th 2018 @ 10:02am
          Reverse Wheel said | July 8th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

          Goalkicking or line kicking or general play?

          Line kicking definitely needs improvement. General play kicking was limited last night but I thought he did well. Goalkicking was 8/13 but most were from out wide, two hit the post, and 3 were severely influenced by the wolves chaser leaving about 10 mins early on the charge down. Speaking of which, surely there has to be more sanction for that than being told to stand aside and not being allowed to charge again? It’s a pretty big distraction for a kicker.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 8th 2018 @ 10:10am
            Paul D said | July 8th 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

            Not a good night for kicking with the wind. Having said that, kicking the penalty dead was inexcusable.

          • Roar Guru

            July 8th 2018 @ 4:46pm
            stillmissit said | July 8th 2018 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

            Reverse Wheel, the other penalty for running early is if the kicker misses he can have the kick again. At the time Foley had not kicked so the ref was right. At least that is what it was when I was reffing about 10 years ago.

            I think Foley is a gutsy player and an excellent defender but his goal and field kicking are poor. I assume he is under instructions NEVER to kick the ball out from our 22 as I have rarely seen him do that. He kicks for goal OK from the LH side but from the right he is hit or miss.

            He is, to me, 70% of a fine 5/8 and that ain’t enough for the Wallabies but he is OK for the Tahs.

            • July 8th 2018 @ 5:52pm
              Reverse Wheel said | July 8th 2018 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

              His goalkicking is a touch over 80% this season so certainly not terrible. The tahs rarely try to kick for touch so I wouldn’t judge him on that.

      • July 8th 2018 @ 6:14pm
        Boonzie said | July 8th 2018 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

        Tahs should have beaten crusaders in their game across the ditch if they tmo was watching like they seem to be since that game. Saying that… Not sure we have a second game like that in us if that ends up the final.

        • July 8th 2018 @ 9:17pm
          Tom said | July 8th 2018 @ 9:17pm | ! Report

          I presume for the final there would be neutral (probably South African) referees?

          • July 9th 2018 @ 6:58am
            Jerry said | July 9th 2018 @ 6:58am | ! Report

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, no.

    • July 8th 2018 @ 7:31am
      KiwiHaydn said | July 8th 2018 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      Not sure the relationship between premier contention and Foley’s leadership are all that strong, but good to see the Waratahs hitting their straps.

      • Roar Guru

        July 8th 2018 @ 7:50am
        taylorman said | July 8th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

        Yes they had a late run to win in 14 so diff this time is if its a rematch, and it could be, it will be innChristchurch.

        Love how its knockers when its the other side thats has 14 for over a half David but when the NZ sides are in that pos its the game is ruined as a match. Nothing ruined here??

        • July 8th 2018 @ 8:09am
          Reverse Wheel said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:09am | ! Report

          I think tahs fans to a man (and woman) shake their collective heads in dismay when lord says stuff like this

          • July 8th 2018 @ 8:25am
            Cynical Play said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

            Yep. Mine shook clean off…

            • July 8th 2018 @ 8:31am
              Reverse Wheel said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

              It’s like when Foley kicked the penalty dead then left that bouncing ball alone for the wolves first try. Haters gonna hate anyway, no need to give them such easy pickings 🙂

              • July 8th 2018 @ 9:11am
                The Sheriff said | July 8th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

                As a Tahs fan for as long as David, I can understand his joy and enthusiasm but he has let this get in the way of the reality.
                Although the Tahs are playing as well as they have since 2014, they may still not be able to match the top Kiwi teams.
                There is a lot to like about the unassuming Foley but he can be relied upon to do three dumb things in every game, as well as the great things.
                It was good to see Barrett kick out on the full last evening, so the pressure even gets to the best!

              • July 8th 2018 @ 10:25am
                Cynical Play said | July 8th 2018 @ 10:25am | ! Report

                Lord has written so many anti Hooper articles I have lost count. This article is in fact a sly dig at Hooper. Lord can’t stop. Even when Hooper, the Waratahs best and most awarded player, is injured, Lord still puts the boot in. Foley and Hooper are both on field Tah leaders. Decisions seem to be made collectively with Beale also involved. Lords opening paragraph is babble.

              • Roar Guru

                July 8th 2018 @ 10:27am
                PeterK said | July 8th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

                Foley is a rocks and diamonds player as much as the other 10 who has many haters.

              • July 8th 2018 @ 4:48pm
                Colvin said | July 8th 2018 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

                CP, David is getting old, like me. I can say for sure when you get old much of what you say is babble. We all think it was much better in the 60’s.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 8th 2018 @ 5:57pm
                The Crow Flies Backwards said | July 8th 2018 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

                I remember drinking with David and his son in the John Mellion Bar at the Oaks Hotel in the 80’s. How old do I feel.

    • Roar Pro

      July 8th 2018 @ 7:55am
      Rower who wishes he could play rugby. said | July 8th 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      But nothing about how awful the Waratahs were in the 1st half and that they leaked 25 points to the Sunwolves? There is nothing convincing about beating a 14 man Sunwolves team. This is still the same team that got slaughtered by the Lions, got beaten by the Blues, and lost to the Crusaders after a 29-0 lead. Other teams will make mince meat out of the forward pack and the defensive deficiencies of the back three are going to be a major problem.

      • Roar Guru

        July 8th 2018 @ 8:05am
        taylorman said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        With respect, I dont think this is the same team. Lions wouldnt beat them 29-0 now…
        Though the Crusaders might… with a bit if luck. Tahs have gone from no chance beginning season to slim chance as title contenders.

        • July 8th 2018 @ 8:11am
          Reverse Wheel said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

          They are still frail, and there was some real blooper material against the wolves. But on their day they can compete with anyone. I don’t see it happening this year personally, but you never know.

          • Roar Pro

            July 8th 2018 @ 8:14am
            Rower who wishes he could play rugby. said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:14am | ! Report

            The thing is that if the Waratahs were in this position after beating good teams I’d be given them some credit, but they haven’t. They’ve had two wins outside their conference, one against the Stormers and another against a 14 man Highlanders. I don’t see how getting to play the Rebels and the Reds twice prepares a team for finals football. Against the top end teams they have been exposed.

            • July 8th 2018 @ 8:24am
              Reverse Wheel said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:24am | ! Report

              It’s a legitimate comment. All I would say is that they were extremely competitive against the 4 NZ sides they played which suggests they’re a decent team albeit not a dominant one. The losses to the jags and lions were bad performances where they showed an inability to regroup in adversity. They were also quite a while ago. Other than that, you can only beat what’s in front of you and they’ve done that.

            • Roar Guru

              July 8th 2018 @ 8:26am
              taylorman said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

              They have momentum and that can create things we havent seen yet. 2014 was like that, momentum in the final few weeks saw them grow innconfidence and by finals time were easily the best side in the comp, despite a minor Joubert flaw. Theyre not now, yet….but ripples are present. Gotta feel good about that. Theyve definitely become ‘interesting’😀

          • Columnist

            July 8th 2018 @ 10:45am
            David Lord said | July 8th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

            Cynical Play, this a not a sly dig at Michael Hooper, it’s a statement of fact, He will never be a captain, and while he’s a world class number seven, he’s second best in Australia to David Pocock,

            The quicker Pocock is captain, the better the Wallabies will perform, even if hat means Pocock has to
            play eight.

            As for the Waratahs, if Bernard Foley remains captain for the rest of the 2018 Super Rugby campaign, the better the Waratahs will perform.

            It’s as simple as that..

            • Roar Guru

              July 8th 2018 @ 11:18am
              PeterK said | July 8th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

              Miller has been playing better than Hooper at 7 for the tahs anyway.

              • Roar Guru

                July 9th 2018 @ 10:41am
                Hoy said | July 9th 2018 @ 10:41am | ! Report


      • July 8th 2018 @ 1:23pm
        wyn said | July 8th 2018 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        It’s about time the officials start considering intent when awarding red cards – yes Foley fell awkwardly, but there is no way the tackler executed a spear tackle. Why not a yellow card and let the match review panel decide. Instead, a red card and a game that was shaping to be at least interesting, turned into a game of shadow rugby!

        As for Foley, at super rugby level he covers for his pathetic kicking game with occasional brilliance, but he does not cut it as an international 10. At least a couple of complete stuff ups from his boot in each match – last night his kick for touch that went out beyond the corner flag just another example. Unfortunately, we have no one that is clearly better, but the Wallabies will have to find/develop someone before the WC else they will be lucky to get beyond the quarter finals if they manage to get out their pool.

    • Roar Guru

      July 8th 2018 @ 8:09am
      rebel said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      Dean Mumm was in Exeter in 2014. Douglas was the other lock.
      Tahs certainly in the mix again though.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 8th 2018 @ 8:13am
      Paulo said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Good to put on a record score, even when against 14 and 13 men, as we like to say, you can play the team in front of you. Deserved the win and certainly kept their structure and composure instead of forcing the game when the Sunwolves went down a man. As Gregan pointed out and we saw with the ABs often going a man up throws out your structures and you try to force what isn’t there.

      Some areas to focus on as they did let in some points by the Sunwolves, and when a man down the wolves still managed to create and overlap. Folau being completely stood up by his opposite number and letting in the try, again highlights an area for development. It must be remembered though that the Sunwolves can score point tries and have done so throughout the season, it is there defence which is the biggest liability and was proven so again last night.

      The Brumbies looked dangerous when they could hold onto the ball and kept it in hand last night and threatened to steal their game in at the death, so an intriguing set up for next week. Looking forward to seeing two Aussie sides bash each other.

    • July 8th 2018 @ 8:26am
      Cynical Play said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      Dempsey, Dempsey, Dempsey.

      Me like

      • July 8th 2018 @ 8:36am
        Cynical Play said | July 8th 2018 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        … meant Holloway.

        Holloway is becoming the utility ball carrying lock, big back rower the WBs could use going into RC. He makes metres and stops runners and he can jump.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 8th 2018 @ 10:19am
          Paul D said | July 8th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

          It was a good game from him, but only comparable to Phillip from the week before. I want to see more consistent evidence that he’s no longer going missing for big stretches of the game. If he can repeat it against the Brumbies I’ll be ready to support his inclusion in the WB squad (with Phillip to duke it out).

          Phillip on the other hand has either matched or outshone Coleman this year for the Rebels. He deserves another go in the squad for TRC

          • Roar Guru

            July 8th 2018 @ 10:25am
            PeterK said | July 8th 2018 @ 10:25am | ! Report

            Phillip started very slowly in the season but the second half has really played well. Didn’t deserve to make the wallaby squad in june but does for the RC.

            He should be in the squad ahead of Hanigan who also has played well this season but not as well as Phillip.

            Holloway has stood out against oz teams , need for him to show something in the qf’s against stronger teams.

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