Six weeks done now in the 2021 Super Rugby AU season. We got four more round robin rounds left. Before there are two final games. Such as the Qualifying Final between 2nd & 3rd place. And the Grand Final the week after. Where the 1st placed team already gets that spot guaranteed. While the other opponent will be whoever wins the Qualifying Final.
For now we will focus on Round 7. This Friday sees the Waratahs host again at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Their visitors will be the ACT Brumbies. Saturday night sees the Reds continue to go South. But in Melbourne at AAMI Park. Where they will face the Rebels. And the Western Force will take this week off. Before they return to play next week away also v the Rebels.
New Waratahs midfield duo gave some hope in the 2nd 40 alone
The Waratahs are still yet to search a win so far in 2021. In which is not what these fans want to hear. They did show some displays at least in the 2nd 40 alone. As seen two weeks ago with 10 minutes left in Melbourne. And the same momentum happened last week. Especially with Izaia Perese who returned after a few weeks suspension. When he made a dangerous tackle on Hunter Paisami in Round One.
He came back refreshed alongside Lalakai Foketi in this midfield. They both just did not stop running. Having seen them protect/look after the forwards defensively. As well as crack a few meters into the Reds territory. It only converted well once in the 2nd 40. Where Foketi made a good line break on the wide right.
And found Will Harris via a short inside pass past the touch line. But for the majority they were isolated with a lack of talk up. So the conversions can be done which is ultimately failed. It will be interesting to see if the whole team can get behind this midfield duo. We will get to find out on Friday night v the Brumbies.
Can the Reds cope without Suliasi Vunivalu?
He might have done the wrong thing off the field before Round 1. Waited to come off the bench the next week. And made an impact straightaway. In which did save the low scoring game in Round 2 v Melbourne Rebels at home. Since then he was a brilliant contributor in the 14 shirt.
The mistakes are still there when giving away the balls. As well as the high tackles after the jump. So that is one thing via the discipline. But once he is in the attacking setup. Suliasi gets to unleash his destructive pace in the final third via the channels. Where the decoy runners are there to create the passage of play. And you see him smash one or two defenders on the run home. Just like in his rugby league days with the Melbourne Storm.
We also note that he is around 193 cm in height. In which also helps him read and defend better. Safe to say that the transition from league to union is not bad here. Although he picked up an injury only a few days ago. Where it will take just one month to recover. So Suliasi would be back by the Playoffs portion. The next question is will the Reds cope without him? They already overcame the first time via usual captain Liam Wright. Suliasi is up next. If not then the Rebels have a fighting chance here on Saturday. With a great defensive setup from Melbourne.
When the Waratahs ever get back to form after Rob Penney is fired as head coach?
It is hard to get under their skin each time a loss hits against him. Rob Penney came here just before 2020 in the hope of results. After the predecessor Daryl Gibson left despite signing a contract extension. And not favouring Simon Cron for the top job by the Tahs management.
That is right the management has lots of unanswered questions here. When the previous CEO Andrew Hore left only days after Penney came in. Although the results were mixed last year in the Super Rugby AU. They were left out by the Rebels in 4th spot. With no finals campaign at all. Then still no turnaround after six rounds of play.
Penney knows how to nurture young talent. Having coached Canterbury and the New Zealand U20s before. But at the same time the Tahs need some established stars. Having been under the $1 million value of the current players in this disposal. Which is pretty much out of his control. And unfortunately it is a results driven business. Can Chris Whitaker & Jason Gilmore get the best out of this lopsided squad? The Playoffs hopes may be very bleak. But have just four rounds to prove themselves. Before it is about fixing the NSW Rugby system. For now we wish Rob Penney good luck here.