The Waratahs went down to the Force in Perth on Saturday, losing 28-16 in a performance that had as many errors as Stevie Wonder's driving test. In classic Waratah fashion they dominated possession but threw away the game through some outrageous mistakes which the Force took full advantage of.
The walking sound-byte Nick Cummins took full advantage of these errors as he bagged three tries, in perhaps the Honey Badger's finest performance of the season. Ultimately it was a game which the Tahs should have won, and the fact that they didn't even gain a bonus point is something that Michael Cheika shouldn't let them forget about for the rest of the season.
With due respect to the Force they put on a defensive clinic in Perth. They were constantly tested on their own line and time and time again found an extra man to throw into a tackle, constantly forcing the Tahs back. They don't have the attacking talent to win the competition, but they have the work rate and gumption to cause teams serious issues.
In lieu of much positive feedback regarding the tahs, we will dive into the five key points from the game:
1) Nick Phipps: Had a shocker. I thought at the start of the season that he was the worst of the starting Aussie half-backs and although he has been strong recently, he had an absolute mare last night. Poor passes everywhere and he didn't do enough to organise the forwards as they were driving forward. Needs to improve next week.
2) Will Skelton: One of the few bright points for the Tahs, he made some rampaging runs and some great offloads. It was staggering that Phipps and Foley didn't give him more ball around the try-line.
3) Honey Badger: I'll sleep soundly knowing that he didn't go hungry this weekend. Three pieces of "meat" in his words highlighted a great performance by the Force. Credit when it's due.
4) Injuries: The tahs desperately missed the spark of Alofa Alofa and Peter Betham. Throw in the farcical ARU enforced exclusion of Israel Folau and there weren't enough options for Kurtley Beale to exploit.
5) Angus Gardner: It's pretty rare to compliment a referee, but I thought he had a great performance last night. He wasn't willing to throw out cards for the sake of it and cracked down on time-wasting "injuries." Although the disallowed Tahs try was harsh, ultimately that was the TMO's decision. Good to see young Aussie talent coming through the ranks.
It certainly was a frustrating game, let us know your thoughts below.