Waratahs vs Sunwolves : The first time ever the NSW Waratahs will play a home Super Rugby game away from Sydney when they travel north to face the Sunwolves. The Waratahs will field one of their most inexperienced playmaking partnerships against the Sunwolves but Kurtley Beale says he has a good. The Waratahs claimed a shock 20-12 victory against the Crusaders in round six,
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The Waratahs will play Japan’s Sunwolves in their first ever Super Rugby match in Newcastle tonight (7.45pm AEDT) as they attempt to back up a win which has taken them to the top of the Australian conference.Mack Mason will start a Super Rugby game for the first time at fly half as the Waratahs rest Wallabies No 10 Bernard Foley along with Adam Ashley-Cooper and Jack Dempsey.
“We wouldn’t be putting him in if we didn’t have confidence in him,” Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said.Fresh off ending the longest win streak in Super Rugby history last week and sitting pretty at the top of the Australian conference, confidence around the NSW base at Daceyville is through the roof. The Waratah’s defense which they have dubbed ‘The Blue Wall’ strangled the previously unbeaten Crusaders at the SCG forcing them into a very uncharacteristic error ridden performance.
A lot of praise has been heaped on new Welsh defence coach Steve Tandy midweek after allowing the Crusaders just 12 points, which included a try off a blatant forward pass and another after the full time siren.
Just over 24 hours after hearing their Super Rugby journey would all come to an end in 2021 the Sunwolves marched out in Singapore to face the might of the Lions. Despite leading 7-0 they eventually succumbed to a 3rd successive loss going down 37-24, thereby slipping to last on the overall Super Rugby ladder. The historic win over the Chiefs in Hamilton seems a long time ago for the embattled franchise. Having said that a last ditch Karmicheal Hunt charge down attempt was the difference between these sides when they met in round 2 so don’t expect all one-way traffic on a warm evening in the Hunter.
The Waratahs have played the Sunwolves four times in Super rugby and they have won all four matches making them unbeaten against the Japanese side.Three of the matches were played in Tokyo and one was played in Sydney. This weekend the match will be played in Newcastle.
The last time the Waratahs played the Sunwolves on Australian soil was last year in 2018 and they won 77-25.Just four personnel changes to the Waratahs side that knocked the Crusaders off their perch last weekend with three of those occurring due to Wallaby rest allocations. The aforementioned Mack Mason and Micheal Wells will start in place of Bernard Foley and Jack Dempsey.
Elsewhere Karmicheal Hunt returns at outside centre in place of Adam Ashley-Cooper while the aggressive Lachlan Swinton will join Wells and captain Hooper in a new-look back row. This sees Ned Hanigan shifting into the 2nd row in place of Jed Holloway who is out with a rib injury. Israel Folau’s 112kg younger brother John, is set for his debut after being named as a late inclusion on the bench.
The big news out of the Japanese camp is that disgraced number 8 Amanaki Mafi will not make the trip down under after a visa issue prevented him from entering the country. In other team news Hendrik Tui returns at blindside flanker, while bruising lock Uwe Helu has been promoted to start.
During his time with the Highlanders, Tony Brown believed the Australian Super Rugby franchises were too predictable.
His theory proved to be accurate as the New Zealand sides enjoyed an incredible 40-match winning run over their Australian counterparts in a streak that lasted two years.
However, the Sunwolves head coach said he has seen a vast improvement in the way the game was being played in Australia, with the Waratahs leading the charge in their nation’s development of gameplay tactics.
Speaking on the Fox Rugby Podcast in the lead-up to their clash against the in-form Daryl Gibson-coached side in Newcastle, Brown said it was becoming more difficult to scout Australian outfits due to their implementation of kick-based tactics.
“It’s interesting because when I was with the Highlanders the Australian teams tended to hold the ball for a long time and they always believed that that was the way to win games of rugby,” the 44-year-old said.“I felt as though we always had an advantage there because we just knew what they were going to do, and then you could plan around that and put them under real pressure.
“But, from what’s happened in the last couple of years and definitely the development of the Waratahs’ rugby, their kicking game has become a real weapon for them, and when you’ve got guys like Israel Folau, the aerial game is now a massive part of the Waratahs game as well.“They’ve developed their game hugely in the last couple of years and are actually playing a lot more like the Highlanders did a few years ago.”