Michael Hooper is a many of all-round talents on the Waratahs openside back row at No.7 last night v Highlanders. He can look after & assist with the attack, as well as defend & even made a 50/22 kick too that helped his side stay ahead on the front foot. Now the majority of the 2nd half may not be exactly the same while the Landers catched up, but he’s glad that the hard work was done when the Tahs regained the lead just in time thanks to the other team’s discipline drama ahead of a win by a single point (21-20). Such an excellent skipper to watch who still has plenty of energy left in the tank, as he’s got unfinished business left going into May so the Tahs can stay in the Top 8 bubble.
Next up is Lalakai Foketi on the inside back at No.12 for the Waratahs. He backed up the attack really well while offering so much physicality at the same time, having collected just the one TRY ahead of half-time. Yes, he might have been sent away to the naughty chair later on for like 10 mins, but he has redeemed himself once he came back just in time to help regain the lead before the Tahs held off the Highlanders for the win. It goes to show that he is such an important player who has tremendous experience in his prime right now (aged 28). Now he’s ready to hopefully not only beat the Reds next Saturday, but also keep winning on games to make the QF again for another year.
And Aaron Smith has made a huge difference for the Highlanders at No.9, particularly when his side made some lost time for most of the 2nd half. He looked after the ruck well while building some momentum going forward that earned them some three-point penalty goals earlier on. Then he showed some excellent leadership & attacking masterclass after half-time where he helped his side overtake the Tahs for the lead with under 20 mins to go. Sadly, he wished he can stay on until the end when not only he was replaced by Folau Fakatava with 7 to go, but his side also suffered some discipline drama as they’ve let it slipped away while the Tahs went on to celebrate with the win.