David Horwitz needs to produce a clinical performance for the Waratahs against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
The 21-year-old replaced Kurtley Beale during the first minute of last Saturday's match against the Bulls and had a good game. According to SARugbymag.co.za's Opta-powered stats, Horwitz carried the ball six times, beat one defender, made seven of his eight tackles and forced two turnovers. That has resulted in him being given the No 12 jersey for Friday's game ahead of the more experienced Matt Carraro, who remains on the bench.
Losing Beale to a season-ending knee injury is a big blow for the Tahs and they will need Horwitz to step up against a Crusaders side that poses a far greater attacking threat than the Bulls (they have scored the third-most tries in the competition) and has the second-highest tackle success rate.
A month ago, it looked as if the Tahs wouldn't come close to the playoffs this season, but four consecutive wins against the Force, Stormers, Cheetahs and Bulls have taken them to the top of the Australian conference. And as conference leaders they are now second in the Australasian group, seven points behind the Crusaders, although they also have fewer log points than the three teams below them, the Chiefs, Highlanders and Hurricanes.
Friday's match will show us how much progress the Tahs have really made in recent weeks. The Crusaders' eight-match winning streak came to an end in Dunedin last weekend, when they lost 34-26 to the Highlanders, and they will back themselves to bounce back in Christchurch where they have lost just one of 12 fixtures against the Tahs, way back in 2004. The Tahs have won their last two matches against the Saders, including the 2014 final, but both were played in Sydney.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has made two changes to his starting XV, with loosehead prop Joe Moody and inside centre Ryan Crotty rotating with Wyatt Crockett and David Havili respectively.
The Waratahs have made three changes to their match 23, with coach Daryl Gibson opting to start Jed Holloway at No 8 ahead of Wycliff Palu, who moves to the bench. Horwitz is at 12 with Zac Guildford, who has recovered from a broken toe, set to make his return as a substitute.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Crusaders 16, Waratahs 6
In Christchurch: Crusaders 11, Waratahs 1
STATS AND FACTS
– The Waratahs have won their last two games against the Crusaders, a third straight win would be their longest ever streak against the Christchurch-based franchise.
– The Crusaders have won their last four matches against Australian opposition, with the last two in that run both coming by margins of 25-plus points.
– The Waratahs have won two of their last three games in New Zealand and will be searching for back-to-back wins there for the first time since 2009 after a 29-24 win over the Hurricanes in round 10.
– The Crusaders have scored nine tries in the third quarter of matches so far this season, a 10th would make them the first team to have scored 10-plus tries in each quarter of their matches so far this season.
– Richie Mo’unga beat seven defenders in the Crusaders' round 12 loss, the most of any Crusaders flyhalf since 2011. Source: Opta
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Crusaders||Richie Mo'unga (112)||Jone Macilai-Tori (5)||Johnny McNicholl (550)||Matt Todd (90)|
|Waratahs||Bernard Foley (80)||Israel Folau (6)||Israel Folau (753)||Michael Hooper (119)|
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Jone Macilai, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mika Alaalatoa, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Tim Boys, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 David Havili, 23 Marty McKenzie.
Waratahs – 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dave Dennis (c), 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Subs: 16 Angus Ta’avao, 17 Hugh Roach, 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Matt Carraro, 23 Zac Guildford.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Wratt (New Zealand)
Photo: Jason McCawley/Getty Images