Waratahs

Waratahs v Chiefs preview

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Aussie Stadium, Sydney, 19.40 (09.40 GMT)

The Waratahs may have been one of the big disappointments of the season, but on Saturday they are as dangerous as any other team to the Chiefs’ play-off prospects.

It is simply because they have nothing to lose. They can’t finish higher than ninth and have nothing but a bit of pride to play for.

This means the Waratahs can play carefree footy and there is nothing they will like more.

On the flipside is the Chiefs, who are under pressure to keep on winning.

They have done well in recent weeks and last week’s impressive 35-27 win over the Sharks means they kept their play-off hopes very much alive.

Chiefs coach Ian Foster is “excited” about his team’s three-match winning streak – which has them at fifth place on the standings, but only behind the Bulls on the slender margin of 14 points on points differential.

“It was the finish of a three-week period where we did what we had to do and we’ve now given ourselves a chance,” Foster said this week.

Captain Jono Gibbes have warned that his team has not performed to their true potential yet and will look to raise the bar against the ‘Tahs.

“I think we got 40-odd minutes of how we want to play the game, but we still haven’t nailed the whole thing,” Gibbes said of the encounter against the Sharks last week – when they raced into a 32-3 lead, before allowing the South Africans back into the game.

“I think that’s probably, for a few of us who have been around for a little bit, quite satisfying that we’ve still got a little bit left in us and we’ve yet to nail the whole 80.”

The Chiefs certainly have the fire power, both in the forwards and among the backs, to blow the Waratahs away. They are more physical and their outside backs – especially with reconditioned All Black Mils Muliaina back in the harness – have far greater scoring potential.

The question is just whether they will allow the pressure of the situation to get to them?

The Waratahs will hope that players like their million dollar man Lote Tuqiri finally start repaying the huge price that the franchise have paid for him. Others who have not played to their potential this year include Peter Hewat and Ben Jacobs.

The one shining light has been young Lachlan Turner on the wing.

Prediction: The Chiefs simply look bigger, better, faster and fitter. They should win, convincingly. The Chiefs by 15 points or more.

Teams:

Waratahs: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Lachlan Turner, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Sam Harris, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Josh Holmes, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Will Caldwell, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Adam Freier (c), 1 Matt Dunning
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Tim Davidson, 19 David Lyons, 20 Daniel Halangahu, 21 Kurtley Beale, 22 Chris Siale

Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Roy Kinikinilau, 13 Dwayne Sweeney, 12 Tasesa Lavea, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Keith Robinson, 4 Jono Gibbes (c), 3 Nathan White, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Simms Davison.
Replacements: 16 Craig West/Tom Willis/Ben Castle, 17 Craig West/Tom Willis/Ben Castle, 18 Kristian Ormsby, 19 Steven Bates, 20 David Bason, 21 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 22 Lelia Masaga

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Touch judges: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Brett Bowden (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)
Assessor: Ian Scotney, Tony Dunlop

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