NSW Waratahs return home after a heavy loss v Rebels last week. Despite two consolation tries which was very little time to catch up. Now they have four straight losses against them. Will they end this losing hoodoo in order to turn around?
While the Queensland Reds would like to continue their winning run. They just escaped the Western Force unscathed in Brisbane. So does their close win in Canberra two weeks ago v Brumbies. Can they clean sweep their oldest rivalry against NSW this Saturday? This action takes place at ANZ Stadium in Homebush.
It is always the Reds who are good against the Waratahs at home. They won both of their season opener games in 2020 & 2021. But have yet to win against them in Sydney since July 2013. Where the Reds won on their turf 12-14. That is one streak they would like to end here.
The front three remains intact from last week v Rebels. Harry Johnson-Holmes & Tetera Faulkner in the props. And Dave Porecki as the starting hooker. Despite a late cameo off the bench from Tom Horton.
Sam Wykes brought in at second row alongside Sam Caird. With Hugh Sinclair pushed to Blindside Flanker as Lachie Swinton’s replacement. Carlo Tizzano still at 7. And Will Harris dispatches Jack Dempsey in the Number 8 position.
Jack Grant starts at half-back along with Will Harrison in the 10 role. James Ramm on the left wing. Izaia Perese back on the inside midfield after the Week 1 suspension. So does Lalakai Foketi. Alex Newsome pushed back on the other flank as skipper. And Jack Maddocks at No.15.
Tom Horton at hooker. Alongside the returning Angus Bell & Darcy Breen in the props. Jeremy Williams in for both Wykes or Caird. Max Douglas as the reserve loose forward. Henry Robertson at 2nd choice scrum-half. Tane Edmed behind Harrison. And Mark Nawaqanitawase at utility back after three starts in full-back.
Dane Zander & Taniela Tupou holds off on the props. Brandon Paenga-Amosa back as the starting hooker. Where he replaces Alex Mafi. So does Ryan Smith who comes in for Angus Blyth at lock. While Lukhan Salakaia-Loto stays on the other side of Smith. Angus Scott-Young & Fraser McWright in the flanker roles. And Seru Uru gets his chance ahead of Harry Wilson. He will start at Number Eight.
Tate McDermott begins in the half-back role. James O’Connor leads the line at 1st five-eighth. Filipo Daugunu returns on the left wing. Hunter Paisami & Jordan Petaia on the midfield. Suliasi Vunivalu on the right wing. And Jock Campbell rounds off the Reds starting XV. He starts at No.15.
Alex Mafi demoted behind Paenga-Amosa at hooker. Richie Asiata & Zane Noggorr in the props. Harry Wilson & Sam Wallis at reserve lock/loose forward. Kalani Thomas as 2nd choice scrum-half. Same goes to Hamish Stewart behind O’Connor. And Bryce Hegarty at the utility back role.
It will be another state of origin like rivalry this time at ANZ Stadium. Reds have a winning formula here. With four wins and no losses so far. A win here would push them closer to a Grand Final berth. But they will need to sort out their discipline though. That is where they were not happy about the other day v Force. And needs to cut it out if they are to dominate.
Waratahs on the other hand desperately needs to find a win. Not only they experienced a couple of players lost to injury/suspension. The home side also struggled to get the ball rolling. As seen so far in the 2021 Super Rugby AU. But have some talented youth coming through. And dominated the last 10 mins alone v Rebels last week. Now they need to show consistency from start to finish. If the Tahs are to overcome the Reds at home.
If I was to tip between the Waratahs and Reds. An undefeated side v a desperate team who wants to win. But has excellent home form against Queensland. The Reds though will break this long running drought with the win. Just by 15 points.