The Waratahs take on the Chiefs on Saturday afternoon, in what should easily be the game of the round. A few weeks ago most pundits would have tipped the Chiefs to win but with the Waratahs recent resurgence and a slightly faltering Chiefs outfit, this game is almost impossible to call,
The Tahs have turned on the siege mentality this week, playing down their recent form and this was beautifully highlighted by Michael Cheika when he said,
"Not many people will think we can get it done over there, so we've got to make sure that we think we can do it and try and get the job done the best we can."
A simple statement like this, highlights the waratahs mentality at the moment. They're confident that they can beat anyone, but they don't want people buying into the hype.
As far as the game goes, for the Tahs to be any chance of winning they need to play mistake-free football. There have been too many away games this year where they have spurned simple scoring opportunities due to handling errors. The Chiefs have shown that they can be scored on, but the Tahs have to be at their best to do so.
Set pieces will be key in this battle, the Tahs need to make a statement early that they won't be pushed around and their lineout needs to be accurate.
The Chiefs have talent all across the park, as you would expect from a team who have won the last two titles. Players like Aaron Cruden, Liam Messam and Sam Cane can hurt you across the park at any moment. Following their embarrassing 45-8 loss to the Hurricanes last week, the Chiefs are expected to come out firing. As we noted earlier in the week, if the Tahs can keep up for the first twenty or so minutes then it's anyones game.
As usual we take a look at five key points that will decide the game.
1) Aaron Cruden: Returns to the starting team for this week, with international games just around the corner he will want to stake his claim to start for the all-blacks. He can't be given any space if the Tahs want to win.
2) Michael Hooper: He's been great all season and needs to be at his best on Saturday, the Tahs need to constantly harass the Chiefs and throw them off balance early.
3) Accuracy: Last week the Tahs goal kicking was abysmal, that won't fly in what should be a close game.
4) Field Position: The Tahs need to play smarter rugby than the Chiefs this week, a bonus point win isn't a necessity but a win would help massively. The Chiefs will be keen to atone for last week and the Tahs should try and keep them pinned in their half and wait for mistakes.
5) Bernard Foley: Has been in career best form the last few weeks, if he is firing then the Chiefs are going to have some serious problems figuring out which channel the ball will be coming through.
I have absolutely no idea who will win this, but it should be a cracker!