The Waratahs will be too strong for the Sunwolves in Saturday’s clash in Tokyo, writes TYRONE ENGEL.
Tahs coach Daryl Gibson has selected all of his Wallabies for this match in a bid to get a full five-point haul that could see them leapfrog the Brumbies in the Australian conference. The two teams are currently level on log points (34) but the Canberra-based side has one more victory.
After a poor start to the tournament, the Tahs have won five of their last six games, including a 45-25 victory at home against the Chiefs before the June break.
Captain Michael Hooper has been a key factor, playing every minute of their campaign. According to SARugbymag.co.za's Opta-powered stats, he has made 10 turnovers, 344m from 92 carries, 15 clean breaks, beaten 26 defenders, and scored four tries.
The Sunwolves will be banking on eighthman Ed Quirk, the standout figure for the Japanese franchise in their first Super Rugby season, to match Hooper’s effectiveness at the breakdown and with ball in hand.
The Tahs top the stats in terms of loose balls collected, and with Israel Folau having made 1,004 running metres (the most in the tournament), giving away possession could cost the Sunwolves seven points.
The Sunwolves should put up a good fight, but expect the Waratahs to win comfortably.
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the teams’ first meeting.
STATS AND FACTS
– The Sunwolves have conceded a combined 101 points in their last two Super Rugby fixtures, both of which were against Australian opposition.
– The Waratahs have won three of their last four fixtures away from home, although two of those three wins were by only two points.
– Israel Folau is the only player in the competition to have gained more than 1,000m so far this season and has made 320m more than the Sunwolves’ highest gainer, Riaan Viljoen (684m).
– Nick Phipps has assisted eight tries so far this season, the most of any Australia-based player and the fourth most in 2016 Super Rugby.
– Akihito Yamada has made 22 clean breaks so far this season, only one shy of league-best Joseph Tomane (23), who remains on the sidelines.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Sunwolves||Tusi Pisi (105)||Akihito Yamada (9)||Riaan Viljoen (684)||Ed Quirk (119)|
|Waratahs||Bernard Foley (95)||Israel Folau (8)||Israel Folau (1004)||Michael Hooper (131)|
Sunwolves – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Mifiposeti Paea, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa (c), 11 Yasutaka Sasakura, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Taiyo Ando, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Naohiro Kotaki, 4 Faatiga Lemalu, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinga, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Subs: 16 Futoshi Mori, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Yshiya Hosoda, 20 Shokei Kin, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 Ryohei Yamanaka, 23 Hajime Yamashita.
Waratahs – 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robsinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Matt Lucas, 8 Dave Dennis, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Subs (two to be omitted): 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Ed Hannigan, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 David Horwitz, 24 Tolu Latu, 25 Matt Carraro.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Aki Aso (Japan), Noriaki Hashimoto (Japan)
TMO: Takashi Hareda (Japan)
Photo: Jason McCawley/Getty Images