Waratahs not losing faith in Beale



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Waratahs playmaker Kurtley Beale will enter his first Super 14 finals campaign under immense pressure and with serious question marks over his right boot and defence.

Reds coach Phil Mooney and fullback Chris Latham both singled out Beale as a weak point and the Waratahs five-eighth went on to have a night to forget with his goalkicking in the gritty 18-11 win over the Reds.

Beale,19, kicked three from seven but just one from five in a nervous first-half effort which included two 32m misses from in front in the opening 12 minutes.

The Waratahs pivot kicking success rate now stands at a worrying 60 per cent which is not ideal when you are entering the finals stage of a competition.

Fortunately for the Waratahs last week, their brick wall of defence ensured Beale’s costly misses didn’t come back to bite them as the Reds rallied back to 12-6 before giving Beale two more chances to atone.

His ability to convert the 63rd and 67th minute penalties for an 18-6 lead convinced Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie and skipper Phil Waugh he deserves to retain the kicking responsibilities.

“I’m not worried, he’s done a good job for us this year and he’s just learning the caper,” McKenzie told AAP.

“He puts a lot of time and effort into (goalkicking) and he’s trying to get better and better.

“He’s won us games during the year off his boot and he kicked the ones that mattered (Saturday night).”

Beale’s performance against the Reds was a far cry from his sideline conversion in the wet to steal a draw with the Stormers.

After that match the Reds made no bones about their desire to target his defence but failed to get the quality set-piece ball to follow through.

“He was effective playing behind that pack, he got the ball pretty much on the front foot most of the time,” Mooney said.

“But in terms of his defence I don’t even think the Waratahs would stand here and say he’s a damaging defender.”

Asked whether Beale may struggle against a team gaining parity up front, Mooney said: “That’s a pretty fair observation I would say.”

Waratahs captain Phil Waugh was quick to come to Beale’s defence.

“I thought KB did magnificently out there,” the captain said.

“He stood up and stood up really well and I’m very proud of Kurtley and the way he is going.

“He is growing and growing every day.”

Beale looks likley to go up against Springbok Ruan Pienaar who has moved from halfback to five-eighth for the Sharks following a season-ending injury to Frederic Michalak.

The Waratahs have an injury concern over hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau who was having precautionary scans on Sunday for a hand injury which affected his lineout throwing.

While the Tahs lost three lineouts on their own throw, the scrum laid the platform for the home semi-final by blitzing the Reds pack in the first half.

“You don’t see that level of domination too often at this level,” said McKenzie. “That definitely paved the way for us.”

League recruit Timana Tahu played 33 minutes off the bench and is in line to start against the Sharks with starting outside centre Matt Carraro being shown up by Morgan Turinui.

“(Tahu) He was fine he did what he had to,” McKenzie said.

“We’ll pick the right team to play the (Sharks).”

The win gave McKenzie a 4-1 record over Queensland and had a departing shot at the “theatre” associated with interstate clashes.

“You do get sick of the barbs,” he said.

“But that’s the way it is. It actually makes it more satisfying when you win.”



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