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Waratahs brace for Bulls' rolling maul

On a roll: As was the case last year, the Waratahs need to be ready for the Bulls' rolling maul.

On a roll: As was the case last year, the Waratahs need to be ready for the Bulls' rolling maul. Photo: Getty Images

The Waratahs are preparing to face arguably the most potent rolling maul in Super Rugby when the Bulls visit Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

While the Highlanders showed last Saturday that such a brutally physical form of attack can be countered with their 27-20 win over the Bulls in Dunedin, it was clear that such a feat requires a committed defence.

The Waratahs believe the Bulls will also back their lineout, ensuring the NSW forwards will be in for a tough night in their first home game since they fell to the Sharks (32-10) and beat the Stormers (22-11) in South Africa and lost to the Force (28-16) in Perth.

There is certainly no complacency among the Waratahs, even though the Bulls have lost their last two games in New Zealand, against the Hurricanes (25-20) and the Highlanders.

The Waratahs have fallen to third place on the Australian conference ladder after their defeat by the Force last Saturday and have not beaten the Bulls in their eight previous meetings since 2006.

“The Bulls are a proposition not too dissimilar to the Force – a South African-based style side – who are going to threaten us at the lineout,” Waratahs assistant coach Nathan Grey said.

“They are going to challenge us with their driving maul. They are very open about that.”

The Waratahs are confident in their attack, having averaged 129.3 carries per game – the most of any side – and the third best of 490.3 total metres.

 The Bulls have the second worst average of 91.1 carries per game and the lowest of 298.8 metres, but Grey is still wary of the threat they pose.

When asked to nominate the chief threats in the Bulls side, Grey identified Bulls centres Jan Serfontein and J.J Engelbrecht, and both of their half-back options – Francois Hougaard who replaced the injured Akona Ndungane on the wing last week, and Piet van Zyl.

“They are two guys who are very handy, probably haven’t been given that many opportunities this year; but they are class players," Grey said of Serfontein and Engelbrecht.

“And whoever they have playing at 9, whether it’s van Zyl or Hougaard, [they are] guys who can capitalise on a good pack going forward.”

Grey has no doubt the Waratahs face a tough challenge against the Bulls. “We are going to have our work cut out for us,” he said.

“But we are confident that if we stick to how we want to play, and how we want to pressure them, then everything [will be in] our hands."

Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu believes the NSW pack has improved its set piece in recent weeks. But he knows that after the Force exposed them in that area last week, the Bulls will  consider NSW's scrum and lineout as vulnerable.

The Bulls scrum has a higher success rate than the Waratahs' with a 12th best of 81.67 per cent compared to the 14th pegged 80.00 per cent of NSW.

But the Bulls lineout has been far more successful with a second most successful rate of 93.28 per cent against the ninth best of 84.52 per cent by the Waratahs.

"That is something we will be tested [on] this week. They are one of the best lineouts in the competition,” Kepu said.

"There were still moments in [set piece last week] where we were soft and where we let the Force get back into the game.

“If we can cut out these moments and build consistency which is what we are after – if we can do that for 99 per cent of the game – then we will be happy.”

8 comments so far

  • On the last Spring Tour Bernard Foley showed some surprisingly terrific potential as a 10 in his brief cameos but he is being cruelled by a still arrogant and selfish Kurtley Beale trying to run the show and be the star at 12. This is what is killing the Tahs flow at the moment but Cheika has succumbed to the annual TahStar-itis of wanting stars, to get the Tahs out of a hole. Beale needs to move to 13 or wing.
    And having Hooper in the backline trying to make flashy runs instead of doing his share of the hard work in the forwards might look groovy but is equally mindless.
    Australia is the only rugby country in the world that doesn't want anyone to play in a specialist position and if they do and start to show some form, they quickly want to move them to another position to cover a weak spot. Sigh.

    Commenter
    johnny-boy
    Date and time
    April 17, 2014, 8:44AM
    • Couple the above with a half back who is a 'step pass merchant' is slow to the ruck and cant hit a running forward ..... defence will be closing the attacking gap/opportunity all day long ...... what does Mckibbon have to do ?
      I think also its about time the Capt fished dirty, bloody and out of breath.

      Commenter
      gman
      Location
      nsw
      Date and time
      April 17, 2014, 9:22AM
  • Exactly what gives the Waratahs 'confidence in their attack'?

    The single try they scored last week?

    Oh I forgot - their only player Folau is back, I guess all is right then.

    Only what if they lose this week? There's be no one left to blame!

    Commenter
    piru
    Location
    Perth via Rakaia
    Date and time
    April 17, 2014, 9:51AM
    • Geez.... who'd be a Tah or one of it's supporters, eh ?

      I suppose it's somewhat fashionable to continually bag the Tahs.... they are obviously a pretty big target and hence are so often accused of talking it up, before running it down.
      What usually looks good on paper around pre-season, as most loyal Tah's supporters know only too well, is that it doesn't translate to a good team or season or team's season.
      Why ?.... truely, if anyone had the answer to that we wouldn't be having this conversation.

      But that's not the point.... frankly, I don't really mind if my team wins or loses.... just so long as they gave it their all. Admittingly there have been (many) times I/ we have questioned if that's the case but I think this season there's been an improvement in the side and things are moving slowly in the right direction.... and there's still a lot of Rugby to be played.

      So, what if they lose this week ?.... well, they lose and the hyperbole of blame is re-ignited (again) from ALL sides of the spectrum. Nothing really surprising in that.... as it's been that way since the beginning.
      If the Tahs should win then the talk starts about world domination and continues until the next loss. Tis' this is the seasons that make-up a Tahs' year.

      Optimistically.... I'm personally punting that that global warming thingy will stuff-up these cycle of seasons and the Tahs will win the comp.... one day.... sometime.... sooner than later :)

      C'arn da Tahs.... no Bull**** this week pleeeease !

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      April 17, 2014, 10:47AM
    • Maybe the confidence comes from the fact they have a good attack when their 1st 15 is available .
      Missing Alofa, Betham and Izzy for the last few weeks didn't help. Any team missing their best back 3 would lose something in attack. 10 & 12 haven't had the runners to pass to recently.
      As for who to blame. The team has been blaming themselves and giving credit to opposition where it's due , as opposed to the NZ way.

      Commenter
      Nobody
      Date and time
      April 17, 2014, 12:03PM
  • I know of no other team that is so reliant on one player to ''try'' and pull them through a game to win.

    Methinks it's a flawed philosophy and one that no doubt will, if the Waratahs stick to it, bite them once again right on the butt!

    Contrary to the one eyed reporting opinions by Rugby Heaven Journalists, the Tahs' as all of us who watched the game last week would say they got ''cleaned out'' by superb tackling and awesome defence by a team that in many eyes is nothing less than second rate.

    The Waratahs play the Bulls next, and Folau or no Folau is going to pull them through this one if the play like last week and rely on their so called match winner!

    Be assured the Bulls will have planned for this one after analysing the Force/Tahs' game last week with an imaginary Israel in the team, and they are a team on their day who have the ability to beat any team!
    The Bulls are a team of huge men, (one of their flankers comes in at 122kg) and are relatively mobile with a reputation to walk over teams if they show any meekness so, in saying that if the Tahs' don't get well and truly on the front foot from the start, it's going to be a long day.

    I have a soft spot for the Tahs' and reckon they have the players to ''take it up'' but it's the mindset thing,the grey matter that counts.

    With the current crop of Referees not being that flash they'll need players to just do the right thing, Hooper take note as he's a chronic penalty catcher, and even though it's played on a hostile patch to the Bulls advantage, Tahs' can do this!

    Commenter
    kirky
    Date and time
    April 17, 2014, 10:47AM
    • @ kirky

      Well penned old buddy.... and yes, it's all in the 'grey matter' for the poor old Tahs.... and they can do this !

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      April 18, 2014, 10:57AM
  • Well, loving the positivity on here.... We don't have to do too much wrong to get the rabid dogs with the smell of blood stamping on their keyboards. I for one am looking forward to the game. Hopefully we win so you three above can pipe down a bit.

    I believe the journalist actually quoted statistics as to why the Waratahs are confident in their attack Piru, but don't let that stop you having a go at them. The biggest problem is that you are not half as bad as their supposed fans. Fairweather supporters in NSW are an abomination.

    Commenter
    Michael
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    April 17, 2014, 1:41PM

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