Israel Folau will lead the Waratahs to victory in the Australian derby in Brisbane this Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The Reds have been poor during the initial stages of the competition. They've lost two of their first three matches, and likely to lose another when they host the Waratahs this weekend.
Their forwards have been under pressure, and their defence has been compromised. Expect more of the same when the Waratahs target the Reds scrum, and men like Folau attack the wider channels.
The hosts will be hoping the return of two senior players, lock James Horwill and centre Ben Tapuai, lifts the collective effort. If they are to have any say in the Australian conference, they have to strike now.
The Waratahs are coming off a bye, and so may take some time to get going in the first half. They won't be wanting for motivation, though, as they recently lost to the Highlanders.
The visitors will be without Adam Ashley-Cooper for this fixture, as the Wallabies veteran has been ruled out with injury. The good news for the men from Sydney is that the hulking No 8 Wycliff Palu is back in the starting mix, and should have a big impact at the gainline.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Reds 13, Waratahs 9, Draw 1
In Brisbane: Reds 7, Waratahs 4, Draw 1
STATS AND FACTS
– Liam Gill has won at least three more turnovers than any other player so far (nine).
– The Waratahs have made the most carries, metres, breaks, defenders beaten and passes in 2015.
– The Waratahs won the last clash between the teams in Brisbane 34-3.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Reds||Lachie Turner (13)||Jake Schatz (1)||Lachie Turner (144)||Liam Gill (31)|
|Waratahs||Bernard Foley (18)||Rob Horne, Taqele Naiyaravoro (2)||Israel Folau (189)||Michael Hooper (29)|
Reds – 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Dave McDuling, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Sam Johnson, 23 Campbell Magnay.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jaques Potgieter, 5 Dave Dennis (c), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs (one to be omitted): 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Stephen Hoiles, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Jono Lance, 24 Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images