Waratahs Can Get Back On Track

Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/Greg Wood/News Limited
The Tahs want to get back to winning ways this week. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/Greg Wood/News Limited

Waratahs v Rebels

Friday, March 21 – 6:40pm (AEST)

Allianz Stadium 

What did they do last week? The Waratahs posted their first loss of the season against arch rivals the Brumbies, going down 28-23 in a classic derby at Canberra Stadium. The Rebels were competitive in a 25-19 defeat at the hands of the Crusaders in Melbourne.

Things you need to know: Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has dumped number eight Wycliff Palu and prop Benn Robinson to the bench, with man mountain Will Skelton and Sekope Kepu promoted to the starting line-up. The 'Tahs will field an unchanged backline that includes Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps, with the duo to play their first game against their former team-mates. Cheika's charges dropped to second on the Australian Conference ladder and fifth overall after last week's loss to the Brumbies.
The Rebels have made two forced changes to their starting line-up. Jason Woodward (knee) and Laurie Weeks (concussion) are the casualties, opening the door for Angus Roberts to start at fullback while Paul Alo-Emile is the new starting tighthead prop. The Rebels have won one-of-three matches this season to sit last on the Aussie conference ladder and 13th overall.

Reason to watch: Kurtley Beale. His two-season stint with the Rebels was plagued by injury and off-field incidents that included punching former team-mates Cooper Vuna and Gareth Delve on the team bus. He didn't have his happiest game against the Brumbies but the 25-year-old has looked sharp in early-season action and, even though he says it's just another game, will be primed for a big one against his old club.

Reason to turn away: South Africa referee Jaco Peyper took an age to set the scrums in the Brumbies-Waratahs game. Coach Cheika was left seething and 'accidentally' shattered a glass panel on the door of the coaching box after the game. Let's hope for his own safety someone has had a quiet word in Jaco's ear to speed things up a bit this week.

Say what: "We're all human and old enough to move on and get on with life, I certainly have. I'm enjoying my time back here in Sydney and enjoying my time playing rugby. Just because they are the Rebels doesn't mean anything else changes. It is another game and I'll be approaching it no different to any other," – Beale on playing the Rebels.

Final instructions: The Waratahs have won five of the six games between these two sides but the Rebels were victorious the last time they met, winning 24-22 in Round 15 last season. The two meetings before that were also close, with the 'Tahs sneaking home 31-26 in the corresponding clash on their home turf last season. On paper and based on early-season form the Waratahs should win comfortably, but the Rebels are usually at their best against the better sides in the competition and should never be underestimated. That said, we'll stick with the home side to get the chocolates. Waratahs by 12.

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