JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Bold decision if Tahs opt to play wide against Highlanders

Date

Matt Burke

THE ANALYST

Ball control ... Dean Mumm.

Ball control ... Dean Mumm. Photo: Getty Images

The last time the Waratahs played against the Highlanders in New Zealand they were schooled in wet-weather rugby. The wind was howling, the rain was coming in sideways and, to be frank, the Waratahs didn't know how to play the conditions.

So what is the common denominator tomorrow? Rain, hail or shine, both teams will be dry under the roof of the new Forsyth Barr Stadium. There will be no excuses for poor ball handling this weekend.

If history is any indication, the Waratahs should have the better of the Highlanders. The trouble is you can't rely on history; you live for the now. The Tahs learnt that against the Reds. The Bob Templeton Cup was virtually inscribed with ''Waratahs 2012''. Then, swoosh, it was gone.

Coming off the back of a bonus-point win against the Rebels, the Waratahs are full of confidence. What they must not do is get too far ahead of themselves.

Put last week's win in perspective. The Rebels rarely mounted an attacking raid that stretched the Tahs. The Highlanders, though, have attacking ability all over the park and they are not afraid to let the ball enjoy some air. The result is that it gets across the white line.

The Waratahs pack has to nullify what is becoming a lethal scrum.

The Highlanders have picked up Hurricanes discard Andrew Hore. His leadership is invaluable. With support from captain Jamie Mackintosh and Chris King, the front three are well capable of providing whatever the backs require.

The back row is mobile and strong. Adam Thomson spends more time on the wing than his own No. 11 and No. 14, and plays like a wide receiver.

The Highlanders' usual defensive style is more passive. Using the sidelines as their friends allows the attacking players easier metres on the width. The problem with going wide is you have to be committed to winning the ball because it's a long route for the No. 7 to get there.

Where the Tahs were good last week was with the big men taking it directly, and through the middle. Firstly, this gives you metres over the advantage line and, secondly, gives you options to play off, such as short or wide off the next play. The Waratahs have exposed opposition defences in the past two weeks through the running and decision-making on the run of Sarel Pretorius.

The energy Pretorius brings to the back of the ruck makes it difficult for the opposition to predict the next play, which provides a third option: the halfback running himself.

This week Berrick Barnes returns at the expense of Tom Carter, who drops to the bench. One reading of this is that the Tahs will play a wider game. Carter is the bash-and-barge direct runner, as we saw when he scored against the Rebels, while Barnes's passing game benefits others.

The Waratahs go into the game with the potential of having three ball players. My concern is the balance. With Carter on the sidelines they lose a foot soldier and gain a general. The problem is that sometimes generals have to turn up on the front line and do the foot soldiers' work, and you don't want them busted. They are better at directing than bashing.

If they need a direct play, Rob Horne is the man left standing for this role. It makes for easy picking when you know who the runner is going to be. If that's the case, give him the ball early with a bit of time to work the opposition rather than them positioning you in defence.

This match is the Tahs' toughest challenge so far. Go with the KISS game plan: keep it simple, stupid.

7 comments so far

  • Agree Matt that this game is going to be the Tahs toughest challenge thus far. The Highlanders are all TEAM, a bunch of search and destroy merchants. They love the physical and the expectation of opposition that they haven't got any real 'superstars' to worry about.
    Having said that I believe the Tahs are now playing good rugby with a forward pack looking and desiring to dominate. The stand-outs being a fit Palu and a partner in Dennis.
    Should be an enthralling contest - let's hope.

    Commenter
    Machooka
    Location
    inner west sydney
    Date and time
    March 09, 2012, 10:29AM
    • So the Waratahs are full of confidence because they got a bonus point win against the team that last year came stone motherless last.
      Just simple logic says that they should be very wary because this team just put the sword to the Crusaders, last week, who are notoriously slow starters anyway.
      Although you didn't mention it it wouldn't be the first time that the Tahs were crowned champions in March

      Commenter
      JJ
      Location
      NSW
      Date and time
      March 09, 2012, 1:23PM
      • Just watched the game and I have to say that if that's a Waratah side full of confidence then I'm not sure we're watching the same team. The score flattered the Tahs because the Highlanders bombed at least 2 tries in the first half and 1 in the second.
        The Tahs even had a chance at the end of the game to win it but for the umpteenth time gave away a turnover.
        Add all the poor kicking options and it make it very frustrating to watch

        Commenter
        JJ
        Location
        NSW
        Date and time
        March 10, 2012, 7:32PM
    • Highlanders will destroy the Tahs I'm afraid. They are everything a south island team should be - tough and uncompromising up front and with a few of their new additions, deadly out wide.

      Can't see the Tahs matching them, Otago rugby has something to prove at the moment, and the pretty boys from Sydney may find that it's not just the weather that can be hostile down in Dunedin.

      Highlanders by 10+

      Commenter
      piru
      Location
      Perth via Rakaia
      Date and time
      March 09, 2012, 2:49PM
      • @Piru, nice to see you back. Nothing much has changed. I see you're still pining for NZ. However, I fear you may be right. Highlanders will really tear in at the contact. If the Tahs don't match this physicality they will lose. I see we've just lost Cliffy. This game last year we folded against the Saders. I hope history doesn't repeat. If we stay strong we certainly can win.

        Commenter
        Chris
        Location
        Kiama
        Date and time
        March 09, 2012, 3:51PM
      • @piru
        can guarantee the weather conditions won't upset the Tahs as there is a lid on the new stadium, so no pain in the rain.
        where on earth did 'the pretty boys from Sydney' come from?
        I know it's expcted to be 38 degrees in Perth today - has someone been out in the sun too long?

        Commenter
        Machooka
        Location
        inner west sydney
        Date and time
        March 09, 2012, 4:03PM
      • Bugger !
        Have just heard this minute that Palu out for Highlanders game.
        Massive loss for Tahs.
        Highlanders by 10+ might now not be such a bold prediction.
        Bugger

        Commenter
        Machooka
        Location
        inner west sydney
        Date and time
        March 09, 2012, 4:09PM

    Make a comment

    You are logged in as [Logout]

    All information entered below may be published.

    Error: Please enter your screen name.

    Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Please enter your comment.

    Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

    Post to

    You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

    Thank you

    Your comment has been submitted for approval.

    Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

    Related Coverage

    Super Rugby 2015

    Round 1
    Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
    CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
    BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
    Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
    LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
    BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
    Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
    SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
    BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
    WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 2
    Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
    REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
    Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
    BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
    HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
    RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
    Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
    STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
    SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 3
    Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
    HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
    FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
    Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
    CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
    CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
    REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
    Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
    LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 4
    Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
    BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
    Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
    RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
    Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
    STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 5
    Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
    FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
    Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
    HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
    RED vs BRU 29 Stats
    Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
    STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
    CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 6
    Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
    REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
    Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
    Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
    SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
    WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 7
    Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
    RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
    Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
    HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
    WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
    Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
    SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
    BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 8
    Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
    REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
    Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
    BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
    Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
    SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
    LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 9
    Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
    Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
    WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
    FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
    Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
    LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
    BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 10
    Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
    Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
    HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
    HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
    BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
    FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
    Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
    SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
    CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 11
    Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
    BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
    Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
    WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
    Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
    LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
    STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
    RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 12
    Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
    BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
    Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
    HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
    REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
    Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
    BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 13
    Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
    CRU vs RED 17:35AMI
    REB vs BLU 19:40AAMI
    Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs SHA 17:35WS
    FOR vs WAR 19:40nib Stadium
    LIO vs HIG 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
    Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
    STO vs BRU 01:05DHL Newlands
    View All Fixtures
    Round 14
    Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs BUL 17:35EP
    RED vs REB 19:40SS
    Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs CHF 17:35WS
    WAR vs SHA 19:40AS
    Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
    LIO vs BRU 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
    CHT vs HIG 03:10FSS
    View All Fixtures
    Round 15
    Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHF vs BUL 17:35Rotorua International Stadium
    RED vs SHA 19:40SS
    Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs HUR 17:35Emirates Airlines Park
    WAR vs CRU 19:40ANZ
    FOR vs HIG 21:45nib Stadium
    Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHT vs LIO 01:05FSS
    STO vs REB 03:10DHL Newlands
    View All Fixtures
    Round 16
    Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
    CRU vs HUR 17:35Trafalgar Park
    BRU vs BUL 19:40GIO Stadium
    Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
    SHA vs REB 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
    HIG vs CHF 17:35Rugby Park
    FOR vs RED 19:40nib Stadium
    Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
    STO vs CHT 01:05DHL Newlands
    LIO vs WAR 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
    View All Fixtures
    Round 17
    Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
    FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
    Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
    REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
    BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
    RED vs CHF 19:40SS
    CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
    Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
    STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
    View All Fixtures
    Round 18
    Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
    REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
    Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
    CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
    WAR vs RED 19:40AS
    Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
    BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
    SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
    View All Fixtures
    Round 19
    Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    View All Fixtures
    Round 20
    Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    View All Fixtures
    Round 21
    Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    View All Fixtures
    Super Rugby 2015
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    Hurricanes 10 9 1 0 107 43
    Bulls 11 7 4 0 48 34
    Brumbies 11 6 5 0 93 32
    Chiefs 11 8 3 0 77 38
    Waratahs 10 7 3 0 32 31
    Stormers 11 7 4 0 25 30
    Highlanders 10 7 3 0 53 33
    Lions 11 6 5 0 -45 27
    View all
     
    Featured advertisers