Waratahs pack ready to lift for Crusaders



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The Waratahs forwards know they can get a big lift in the battle to win enough ball to beat the Crusaders in the Super 14 final on Saturday.

The Waratahs pack has shown several times this season they have the brawn and brains to win the battle up front but if there is one lingering frustration from their 28-13 semi-final win over the Sharks in Sydney last Saturday, it is that they were denied opportunities to give their attack a run from their own throws in the line out.

The Waratahs line out has been one of the most formidable in Super 14 and this was shown against the Sharks when they won five line outs on the Shark’s throw when second-rower Dan Vickerman proved to be a master at reading their calls.

But the Waratahs believe that they have much more to offer in attack on their throws, too.

“We have been shutting down a lot of line outs,” forwards coach Steve Tuynman told RugbyHeaven yesterday at the Waratahs’ final training session at Victoria Barracks, Paddington, where a 24-man squad was named to fly Christchurch this morning.

“We got some clean steals [against the Sharks]. It is a bit disappointing that we are not getting too many throws on our own ball.

“We put a lot of work into the opposition’s line outs There is a bit of intelligence that goes in there. We just try to work out if we can get on top of them.”

Tuynman said that the forwards realised that they would have to fight in a number of ways to get the possession needed to win on Saturday night and that trying to manipulate the game so the Crusaders provided them with line outs on their own throw was one ploy.

Against the Crusaders in round six, the Waratahs were equal to the Crusaders forwards but in the last 30 minutes of play the Crusaders scored four quick tries and beat them 34-7.

In the first half the Waratahs pack dominated even though they went into the break 6-0 down. The Waratahs took the lead (7-6) in the 50th minute when No.8 Wycliff Palu scored a converted try.

“We have to look at ways where we can get ball – that is one way,” Tuynman said of the line outs on their throw.

“We have sat down, had a look at the game and what ways we can look at getting on top and dominate. Obviously we want to get as much ball as possible.

“[But] possession is going to be hard to get and we have to work on ways of getting it – through the line out, through the scrum, through the breakdown ‘”

The forwards will be motivated by the knowledge that should they provide enough ball the back line had the firepower to turn the possession into match-winning points.

“This year, once we have ball in hand we can actually do things with it,” Tuynman said.

Waratahs captain and open side breakaway Phil Waugh, whose clash with All Black No.7 Richie McCaw will be a major highlight in the final, agreed.

“Every big game is won up front,” Waugh said.

” It is important for our forwards to dominate. If we don’t dominate we can’t expect the backs to find space out wide.”

Waratahs fullback Sam Norton-Knight also said that his Crusaders opposite number Leon MacDonald was a danger man. MacDonald scored two tries in the Semi-final against the Hurricanes.

“The back three in our squad look at a lot of his footage because he does very little wrong,” Norton-Knight said.

“Everything he does has a positive impact on the team and he does the hard work and takes those high balls and gets good field position for them.”

Tuynman said the Waratahs would not be preparing their game around any specific players like MacDonald because it might expose a gap elsewhere.

“He is one of the best, but [The Waratahs] have one of the best with Phil Waugh,” Tuynman said.

“If we go out and target some of these guys we are doing ourselves an injustice. They have 15 guys just as good as Richie McCaw – or up to that standard.

“We just have to stick to our plan. That is what we have done. When we stick to the plan we go well and get results. Focusing on the individual is going to put us off our game.”



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