Rugby Union 3 years ago

The Road Home

  • The Road Home

The Waratahs slogan this season has been based around the word 'believe,' yet with two games to go in the season, it seems hard to believe that they sit top of the ladder, with their destiny solely in their hands. This weekend's home game against the Highlanders will be a major test in how much the fans and players believe in the Tahs.

Victory on Sunday, will mean that the Waratahs are guaranteed a home semi-final and with their final game being against the unimpressive Reds, they would be a great shot to finish first and guarantee a home grand final if they make it that far. 

Sounds simple right? Unfortunately it probably won't be that easy.

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The Highlanders come to Sydney as probably the biggest surprise package of this years competition. With 10 bonus points so far, they have played some incredible rugby and they are fully aware that they need to win to keep up in a tight New Zealand conference. 

With so much at stake for both teams, this should probably be considered the game of the round. Michael Cheika has his game face on as always, and is expecting a close contest, stating. 

"Because it's getting closer to finals you want to improve as well, so you want to try to turn the dial up a little bit on the volume of everything: your hits, your pace around the park, your work off the ball."

Cheika is spot on, the Tahs need to be at their best to win this game, they haven't lost a game at home all season and maintaining that record going into the finals will provide a huge psychological advantage. 

If this season is to go by, this should be a cracking game, with both teams able to score numerous points quickly. As always we take a look at five key things that could decide the game. 

1. Dave Dennis: The loss of the Tahs talisman is massive, whilst he isn't the world's most talented player, his leadership and work rate are incredibly important to the team. Someone is going to have to stand up in his absence.

2. Ben Smith: It's pretty rare that I will admit to liking a Kiwi player, but I love how Ben Smith plays his rugby. If he turns up on Sunday the Tahs are going to have their hands full. 

3. Speed: The Tahs built their victory over the Brumbies off the back of an incredibly fast defensive line. The Tahs can't give the Highlanders any room to think and need to maintain this all game. 

4. Set Pieces: With two very talented back-lines on display, the victory will probably go to the team that can nail their scrums and line-outs. 

5. Home Ground: The Tahs have been imperious at home this season, if you're not sure whether you should go out to the game, make sure you do. This is a huge moment for Rugby in Sydney and they need all the support they can get. 

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