Rugby Union 4 years ago

Rebel Rivals: Waratahs #2

  • Rebel Rivals: Waratahs #2

The Waratahs will come down to AAMI Park for their round 15 clash with the Rebels this weekend, and after the 32-8 hammering the New South Welshmen gave Melbourne back in March, the Rebels will be out for revenge.

The Waratahs have been in some good form, though, and will be a tough team to beat. What has happened since the two sides last met?

Form

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The 'Tahs currently sit in fourth on the overall competition ladder with seven wins and four losses, but for the majority of the season so far, they have gone win-loss-win-loss for almost two straight months; obviously struggling with consistency. A 9-point win in round 12 over the Hurricanes, and a 41-13 drubbing of the Lions last weekend has steadied the sky blue ship inside the top six for now but they will be wary of their inconsistent form, and knowing that Melbourne always play well at home, they'll be a lot more cautious of the Rebels this time around.

A loss this weekend to the Rebels could potentially put them in danger of missing out on finals, considering they play reigning champions the Chiefs, last seasons runners-up the Brumbies -- both who sit inside the top 3 on the ladder -- and the in-form Highlanders -- sitting in 5th -- in the following three weeks.

Statistics

The Waratahs rank quite highly in a lot of statistics in Super Rugby this season. They're second in the league for clean break (93), where almost a fifth of them come solely from Israel Folau (18). Their blistering backline also have helped this statistic out. 

The Waratahs are first for offloads, second for total metres and carries (just ahead of the Rebels in third), and third for defenders beaten. This is testament to the backline Michael Cheika has been able to build this season and the danger they pose to oppositions.

Where they don't rank highly is in the set pieces and defence. They have a 87.2% tackle success rate in comparison to the Rebels 89.1%. Though the difference may seem minute, the Rebels are actually on top of the competition with that statistic, whereas the Waratahs sit six spots behind them.

Furthermore, the lineout success of the Waratahs is 83.8% (10th overall in the competition) to the Rebels 90.3% (4th). The Waratahs are second last in the league for scrum success with an 82% success rate, compared to the Rebels 86% rate to be in sixth.

Players to watch

Evidently this season, the Waratahs backs have been some of the most entertaining to watch this year. Israel Folau has been the competitions top try-scorer and offloader with 9 and 28 respectively so far. He is also in the top ten for total metres with 720, cementing his title as Australia best current full-back.

Alongside him, Kurtley Beale has impressed at inside centre to be the leader of the competition in carries (155), and Bernard Foley at fly-half has been dominant this year, especially in last weeks performance against the Lions where he controlled the play beautifully, and rightfully eanred another call up to the Wallabies squad.

Rob Horne and Peter Betham are two underrated players who simply do all the right things for the 'Tahs, and will need to be kept watch of when they get into some momentum. Horne's running ability makes the New South Wales backline all-around nightmare for tacklers.

Likely Wallabies skipper, Michael Hooper, is Australia's best openside flanker at the moment, while all 135 kilograms of Will Skelton will need about three or four players to bring down when he gets a handle of the ball.

HAVE YOUR SAY: How do the Rebels stop the dangerous players of the Waratahs? Do Cheika's men have what it takes to beat the Rebels at home?

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