Two losses in a row for the Melbourne Rebels has left the Rebel Army a little underwhelmed after their flying pre-season and opening round win. This weekend, it doesn't get any easier when the team travels up to Allianz Stadium to take on the Waratahs on Friday night.
The Waratahs currently sit in fifth position on the Super Rugby table, and second behind the Brumbies in the Australian conference. Of the three matches they've played this season, they have produced two convincing wins, and one close loss -- all against Australian opponents.
In round 2 the 'Tahs stormed to a 21 point victory against the Western Force at home, in a match where they scored a total of six tries -- three of which where scored by Israel Folau. This was followed up by an even bigger win in round 3 against the Reds, where Folau went over twice to help set up a 27 point win.
Last week they suffered their first loss; this one to the hands of the Brumbies. A five point loss, but not a total disappointment for the Waratahs. Two tries in the last fifteen minutes of the match proved they were still battling until the end, and with 60% possession throughout the game, 132 more metres made and 75 more passes completed than the Brumbies, this still shows that they weren't completely out of the contest, despite conceding two tries in three minutes, and one just after halftime.
Last weekends result shouldn't be looked into too heavily for the Waratahs. They came up against last seasons Grand Finalists, and still remain one of the better teams in Super Rugby this season. With a backline like theirs, it is hard to write them off.
As mentioned above, Folau has already scored a number of tries this season, and leads the competition with 6 in total as well as 8 clean breaks, and hasn't failed to score in a game yet. But Izzy isn't the only one doing the for them; Kurtley Beale has also gone over for two tries thus far, with Alofa Alofa and former Rebel Peter Betham both scoring one each as well. Bernard Foley has been on-song; he's in the top ten for total points scored and is forming a great partnership with new scrumhalf Nick Phipps. Such dominance has been seen by the Waratahs backline this season, and we're yet to see Adam Ashley-Coopers name pop up on the scoresheet. A scary thought.
After a close loss last week, the Waratahs will want to assert their dominance in the Australian conference by defeating the Rebels this Friday. Can they do it, or will the ghosts of last years round 15 loss haunt them?
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