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The Waratahs host the Reds on Saturday evening at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:15pm (AEST).
The scrum. This is how the Reds got a leg up on the Waratahs in their first-round win five weeks ago. Looking at the rosters, the same may happen again unless NSW scrum coach Mark Bell prepares his team well. His son, the reserve loosehead prop Angus Bell, will join the aftermath of the Reds’ initial onslaught.
As a last-minute blow to their team roster, captain Rob Simmons succumbed to injury. His lineout leadership launched the Waratahs’ comeback in their last encounter, which established their mid-game lead. Tom Staniforth is a good lineout operator also, but lacks the genius of Simmons.
Rob Penney’s boys had a break last week, but were bullied by the Rebels the week before. At first glance, this may have been an indictment on the New South Welshmen. But the Rebels also bashed the heralded Brumbies yesterday. Just like the Reds, the Waratahs almost beat the Brumbies, losing by one point from a last-minute try. It’s apparent the game might be closer than many expect.
The back line will be another good contest with both teams fielding highly talented but mostly inexperienced players, bolstered by experienced heads. The Waratahs’ flyhalf and fullback are better triple threats than the Reds’, but have not been delivering the goods. Tonight’s contest could be their road to redemption. It will be a rough road.
There is a lot of talk about the Reds’ back row, but the tough and mobile combination of Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper and Lachie Swinton are as dangerous as they come. Lineout aside, the Reds’ clear advantage is their tight five, anchored by the heralded Taniela Tupou and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto pushing behind him. They are almost impossible to stop once they have momentum.
Today’s forecast is wet. If the Waratahs drop the pill, their scrum will be severely tested by the Tongan Thor and his gang. The Waratahs should be more competitive than expected. If they win the scrums, they have a good chance to win the game. But that is probably a long shot.
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
Kick-off: 7:15pm (AEST)
Broadcast: Fox Sports, Kayo
Odds: Waratahs $2.65, Reds $1.48
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett, Jordan Way
TMO: George Ayoub
Jack Maddocks, James Ramm, Lalakai Foketi, Karmichael Hunt, Alex Newsome, Will Harrison, Jake Gordon, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Lachlan Swinton, Tom Staniforth, Ned Hanigan, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Tom Horton, Tom Robertson.
Reserves: Andrew Tuala, Angus Bell, Tetera Faulkner, Jed Holloway, Hugh Sinclair, Mitch Short, Joey Walton, Ben Donaldson.
Jock Campbell, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor, Scott Malolua, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright, Angus Scott-Young, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Dane Zander.
Reserves: Alex Mafi, Jack Straker, Zane Nonggorr, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Fraser McReight, Tate McDermott, Bryce Hegarty, Josh Flook.