Waratahs v Highlanders preview


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Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie will be happy with the timing of this fixture. The Highlanders present a challenge to his faltering side, but yet it is a challenge that they possibly could meet.

The Highlanders present to the Sydney side a neat shot at proving to themselves, and indeed reminding themselves, that they can beat decent opposition in the Super 14.

The Highlanders have had mixed fortunes so far, turning out victories over the Force, the Reds, the Stormers and the Cheetahs.
In winning four games in this highly competitive Super 14, the Highlanders have formed part of the backlog of teams vying for a semi-final spot from mid-table, and a win here is vital to keep their dim hopes alive.

The return of Anton Oliver and Carl Hayman has bolstered their side tremendously, and, if Nick Evans can find some meaningful form, this side can pose a challenge to anyone in the competition.

The Waratahs have been an incomparably boring side to watch. Who knows what has got into them this year, but it seems they have abandoned their philosophy of attacking rugby – which is has always been Australia’s winning ticket – for a style of play they just don’t have the grunt to carry out.

Highlanders just need to apply pressure, and one feels this Waratahs side should crumble, but it all depends on what kind of Waratahs side shows up.

Prediction: On form, the Highlanders have this one. The Waratahs will need to ignite the likes of Lachlan Turner and Lote Tuqiri out wide if they are to stand a chance, but one doubts they will. Highlanders to win by 15 or more.

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

Highlanders: 15 James Wilson, 14 Lucky Mulipola, 13 Jason Kawau, 12 Aaron Bancroft, 11 Viliame Waqaseduadua, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ezra Taylor, 7 Josh Blackie (c), 6 Craig Newby, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Filipo Levi, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Anton Oliver, 1 Clarke Dermody.
Replacements: 16 Jason Macdonald, 17 Chris King, 18 Kane Thompson, 19 Hale T-Pole, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Charlie Hore, 22 Matthew Saunders.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Touch judges: Willie Roos (South Africa), Geoff Acton (Australia)
Television match official: Paul Marks (Australia)
Assessor: Andrew Cole, Paul Ramsay

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