Waratahs

Waratahs open with away win

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The Waratahs, one of the Super 14 pre-tournament favourites, opened their campaign with a hard-earned 25-16 win over the Lions in Johannesburg on Friday.


Three tries to one – the Waratahs deserved to beat the Lions, but there was nothing wrong with the young Johannesburgers courage.


First they had to overcome the setback of losing their captain and flyhalf, Andr’ Pretorius to a hamstring injury the day before the match, In his place came Louis Strydom, a left-footed kicker signed from the Falcons. It was a huge leap.


Did he cope? In some ways yes. He tackled with great courage. He was unafraid to take the tackle. But possibly the nerves of the occasion got to him for incessantly he dropped the ball onto his left foot and kicked it. Some of his skidding diagonal kicks drew applause, but inevitably the Waratahs won the line-out and sent the Lions trudging a long way back, tails between legs.


Loss of the captain meant that Ernst Joubert took over the leadership and there is nothing wrong with his commitment. He is the grandson of Piet Malan, a 1949 Springbok and at present the oldest living Springbok.


The Waratahs introduced the recent schoolboy Kurtley Beale to the Super 14 world and he did really well, playing with verve and confidence. He was the youngest player on the field, but not all that much younger than Louis Ludik and Jannie Boshoff who were also new to the Super 14.


The Golden Lions did all they could to make the evening entertaining and there was a goodly crowd – though they get swallowed up in the vast maw of Ellis Park, while up the road at the Wanderers the ground of smaller capacity was packed for a 20-20 cricket match between South Africa and Pakistan. Being packed has impact.


The Lions were brilliant at kick-offs and actually ended the match with greater possession than the Waratahs had enjoyed. But the Waratahs were much better at playing in phases and getting in behind – and, let it be said, onto – the tackle to secure the ball.


The Waratahs scored first when Peter Hewat kicked a penalty after Strydom had grabbed at him after he had kicked ahead. The Lions had a great chance to score soon after this but were frustrated in their efforts by an odd decision to penalise the ball carrier for obstruction in a dexterous scissors movement. To the ordinary eye it did not look as much like obstruction than that of the runner ahead of Rocky Elsom for his try.


The Lions were close soon afterwards when they won a Waratah line-out and attacked at speed down the right till bushy Cobus Grobler was tackled out at the cornerflag.


After Strydom had missed a long penalty attempt – he missed three penalty kicks at goal in the match – he goaled one, after Lote Tuqiri had been penalised for holding on at a tackle.


The Waratahs went through phase after phase till young Daniel Halangahu, who had a brilliant match, dummied, accelerated and stretched in Ludik’s tackle to score on the left. 8-3.


It became 8-6 after Benn Robinson was penalised at a scrum and Strydom goaled.


That scrum had been reset twice before Robinson was penalised and in fact the scrums were a bit of a mess, four-phase procedure or not. The Lions actually won a tighthead in the first half but – symptomatic of their instinctive way of playing, Enrico Januarie immediately booted the ball away.


Just before half-time Rocky Elsom ended a fine bit of Waratah interplay to squeeze over in the corner. Hewat converted from touch. But the try was preceded by what appeared blatant obstruction, another odd decision.


The Lions’ only try was a brilliant one, as they counter-attacked and Ludik sped down the touch-line, skinning Lote Tuqiri, before scoring in the corner. Strydom’s conversion made it 15-13.


Ludik and Strydom kicked penalties and then Jaque Fourie was sent to the sin bin for lifting Tuqiri “above the horizontal”. Tuqiri was not quite parallel to the ground and Fourie did let him down with care. That was why, the referee said, it was just a yellow card. Another odd decision.


This happened when the Waratahs were on an excellent, phased attack. They kicked the subsequent penalty out and then drove the maul over the line for a try to replacement Adam Freier. Hewat converted. 23-16.


Straight from the kick-off Ludik must have thought Ellis park was paved with gold, when Brett Sheehan knocked the kick-off back at him but the flying Lions wing just failed to grab the ball with the goal line open in front of him.


The Lions had two more chances to score, but Strydom missed both kicks which would have earned them a bonus point.


Man of the Match: Rocky Elsom did strong work, Phil Waugh was energetic and skilled, Sam Norton-Knight’s positional play was an object lesson to all fullbacks, Daniel Halangahu showed why he is going to be a world star and then there was our Man of the Match Peter Hewat – always skilled and innovative.


The scorers:


For the Lions:
Try: Ludik
Con: Strydom
Pens: Strydom 3


For the Waratahs:
Tries: Halangahu, Elsom, Freier
Cons: Hewat 2
Pens: Hewat 2


Teams:


Lions: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Jannie Boshoff, 10 Louis Strydom, 9 Enrico Januarie, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Ernst Joubert (captain), 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Cobus Grobler, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Ashton Constant, 17 Lawrence Sephaka, 18 Gordon Gilfillan, 19 Franco van der Merwe, 20 Jano Vermaak 21 , 22 Jaco van Schalkwyk.


Waratahs: 15 Sam Norton-Knight, 14 Peter Hewat, 13 Morgan Turinui (vice-captain), 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (captain), 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Ben Hand, 4 Will Caldwell, 3 Alastair Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Aaron Broughton-Rouse, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Kurtley Beale, 22 Sam Harris


Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Keith Brown (New Zealand), Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)


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