Waratahs

Waratahs v Crusaders preview

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Aussie Stadium, Sydney, 19.40 (09.40 GMT)

To put it bluntly, watching the Waratahs play rugby this year has been as entertaining as watching paint dry.

They have lacked any attacking potency and just look short of ideas. With Wycliff Palu out, along with Phil Waugh, Dan Vickerman, Al Kanaar and Dean Mumm – as well as Wallaby David Lyons in doubt – they are looking extremely vulnerable against a Crusaders side that is breathing fire.

The Crusaders will miss Dan Carter, who proved last week there are no real pretenders to his throne as premier fly-half, but Stephen Brett is a more than able replacement. In fact, if Robbie Deans could choose anybody in the world to replace Carter his choice on current form would probably be Brett.

One really can’t see how this Waratahs side stand a chance against a Crusaders side that just appears to be a cut above.

MacDonald, Mauger, Gear, McCaw and Thorne, and the list goes on and on – a team loaded with superstars.

That said, it would be great for the Super 14 in general to see the Waratahs find some form against the defending champions.

The Waratahs have been uncharacteristically dour this season, and need to use Saturday’s home advantage, and the opportunity of playing against Super rugby’s powerhouse, to leave it all out on the field, and simply play some rugby with absolutely everything they have got.

They will need to forget about injuries and even some of the technical bits-and-pieces of rugby and get out there play their hearts out. The centre combination of Turinui and Tuqiri might just be the tonic for that. But first, their tight five will have to get some go-forward.

Prediction: For rugby’s sake, one hopes the Waratahs can make a game of this, and one gets the impression that the motivation might be there for them to do just that, but the impression sticks that the Crusaders are simply too good for them.Crusaders to win by more than ten.

Teams:

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

Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Kevin Senio, 8 Mose Tuiali’i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Michael Paterson, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Caleb Ralph, 22 Johnny Leo’o

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Touch judges: Deon van Blommestein, George Ayoub (Australia)
Television match official: Bradley Wahl (Australia)
Assessor: Ian Scotney (Australia), Paul Ramsay (New Zealand)

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