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Five reasons the Crusaders will beat the Waratahs

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Credit to Michael Cheika and the Waratahs

A magnificent occasion for Australian rugby when the Waratahs take on the Crusaders in Sydney's first Super Rugby grand final.

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Matt Todd: Waratahs captain Michael Hooper has been the standout No.7 in the competition, but the underrated Matt Todd isn't as far behind as you think. He's strong over the ball, a solid running option and the man who tucks the ball under his wing at the back of the Crusaders' lineout drive, using his low body position to score some crucial tries in recent weeks. He is also a very clever link player, capable of an offload or even the occasional grubber through the defensive line. Hooper has a lot on his hands. Not only does he have to be the Waratahs' best player, but he also has to make referee Craig Joubert his best mate for 80 minutes.

Feel-good factor: The Waratahs "deserve" to win this title. Over the course of the year, they have been wonderful to watch, playing with a panache that has reconnected with fans. If the competition had ended last week, everyone would have agreed they were worthy winners. But that was last week, when a certain Richie McCaw and Dan Carter were reunited for the first time all season. The Crusaders "deserved" the title in 2011, but it meant nothing. Timing is crucial in Super Rugby – you need to be the best team only on the final weekend to win the comp. The rest is just stats.  

The other Israel: The Waratahs' Israel Folau won't be as quiet as last week. He is a big-stage player and has nothing to prove on that front. But Israel Dagg is a big-game player, too. In fact, the bigger the better. His long kicking game will get the Crusaders out of trouble when NSW kick to turn Nemani Nadolo, he will step into first receiver and try to glide through the defensive line, and if Bernard Foley gives him counter-attack chances like he did with some clearing kicks against the Brumbies in the second half last week, Dagg will punish him. Big time.

Gotcha: Matt Todd, right, will be on the hunt for the Crusaders.

Gotcha: Matt Todd, right, will be on the hunt for the Crusaders. Photo: AFP

The bench: In classic Crusaders fashion, they have backed their bench all season, even starting them before the All Blacks in some games. The pay-off for that policy will come in the last 20 minutes on Saturday night. Players such as Willi Heinz, Ben Funnell and ball-carrying back-rower Jordan Taufua are going to be on the pace of the game. Apart from Will Skelton, the opposite is true of the Waratahs – the likes of Jeremy Tilse, Tolu Latu and Brendan McKibbin have barely been used, and it's going to be hard for the Waratahs to chase the game if they need to. 

The packs: There is a hint of Matthew Hayden about this Tahs pack. On a benign track, against a limited attack they look like they'll score 500 in a session. In fact, more than one-third of the Tahs' regular season competition points came against the Reds and Rebels. But against the three packs capable of dishing out some of their own medicine (Brumbies, Blues and Sharks), the Waratahs are one win from four. They might actually win enough ball at the set-piece to play, but that's just the start of it. The Crusaders' big men, led by Owen Franks and Wyatt Crockett, are very good front-on defenders, and will make it hard for the Waratahs to get their oxygen, quick ball.

4 comments so far

  • I can see why " Laura" Hooper didn't ring to say he was running late , his phone had fallen through the hole in his jeans . Perhaps some thongs would also be in order . Why do they bother with this crap ?

    Commenter
    Mankad
    Location
    The Bush
    Date and time
    August 02, 2014, 7:52AM
    • Why didn't you give five reasons the Tahs will win?
      It's just as easy.
      Power, Unchanged backline over a minor premiership winning series, Record for and against stats, better coach, home advantage........I could keep going
      Pathetic failure to go with the home team. I won't forget!

      Commenter
      bennalong
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 8:51AM
      • Gee.... thanks Cully !

        Not only have you, the learned Rugby scribe, ditched da Tahs but you've conveniently come up with five.... count 'em.... five reasons WHY da Tahs won't win.

        On ya buddy.... and I'm now REALLY hoping you'll get yours :)

        C'arn da Tahs.... if ONLY to stick it to Cully !

        Commenter
        Machooka
        Location
        inner west sydney
        Date and time
        August 02, 2014, 11:14AM
        • Should be an interesting game. A real arm wrestle or a comprehensive win.

          True the Waratahs finished on top of the table and have all the stats but it comes down to this game and the Crusaders may have the edge.

          Commenter
          Joe from the West
          Date and time
          August 02, 2014, 11:20AM

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