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The NSW Waratahs will look to get their season on the right track with a home win over the Auckland Blues as the home side welcome the Kiwis to Newcastle in Super Rugby’s Round 2. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of what promises to be an exciting match starting from 7:15pm (AEDT).
The home side is close to unchanged from their tough first-round loss to the Crusaders. Rob Penney has brought local boy Harry Johnson-Holmes into the front row and Jack Dempsey is in the no.8 jersey tonight.
Other than that, the starting line-up contains the same players as last week with a number of youngsters keeping their spot. Mark Nawaqanitawase and Will Harrison showed lots of potential in Round 1 and are key to Penney’s ambitions to “get the boys to be a lot more instinctive and utilise their on-field decision making and their talents”.
There are some exciting players on the bench for NSW, too, with former NRL player Tepai Moeroa poised to make his debut. He could well come into the centres and would bring some scary power for the Blues to have to deal with as they tire in the second half.
The Blues have had a rough week. Having led the Chiefs comfortably, they ended up losing their Round 1 game and then have lost three important players to injury in the past few days. Rieko Ioane is out, potentially for a few weeks, Alex Hodgman is gone for at least a month and Ray Niuia is gone for the season.
The Auckland side will need to shrug off these issues and will know that dominance in the pack is going to be key. NSW can be dangerous going forward but if the Blues can take control of the battle up front early then they can look to put pressure on the Waratahs defence – a defence that missed over 35 tackles last week and is known for losing focus at crucial moments.
The Waratahs are on a bit of a journey this season and there will be some bumps in the road for sure. But at home, against a weakened Blues side, they should rack up their first win of the year.
Waratahs by 7.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of what promises to be an exciting match starting from 7:15pm (AEDT).
Kick-off: 7:15pm (AEDT)
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Odds: Waratahs $1.89, Blues $1.91
15. Kurtley Beale, 14. Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13. Lalakai Foketi, 12. Karmichael Hunt, 11. Alex Newsome, 10. Will Harrison, 9. Jake Gordon, 8. Jack Dempsey, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Lachlan Swinton, 5. Rob Simmons (c), 4. Tom Staniforth, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2. Robbie Abel, 1. Tom Robertson
Reserves: 16. Damien Fitzpatrick, 17. Angus Bell, 18. Tetera Faulkner, 19. Ryan McCauley, 20. Jed Holoway, 21. Tepai Moeroa, 22. Mitch Short, 23. Jack Maddocks
15. Matt Duffie, 14. Jordan Hyland, 13. Joe Marchant, 12. TJ Faiane, 11. Mark Telea, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 9. Jonathan Ruru, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 7. Blake Gibson, 6. Dalton Papalii, 5. Josh Goodhue, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3. Sione Mafileo, 2. Kurt Eklund, 1. Karl Tu’inukuafe
Reserves: 16. James Parsons, 17. Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18. Ofa Tuungafasi, 19. Tom Robinson, 20. Akira Ioane, 21. Sam Nock, 22. Harry Pummer, 23. Emoni Narawa
Referee: AJ Jacobs