Shaun Goosen previews Friday's Super Rugby fixture between the Waratahs and Kings.Daryl Gibson’s Waratahs come off of their bye-week in the sad knowledge that their playoff hopes are all but over. Sitting second-to-last on the combined Australasian log, a whopping ten points shy of the qualifying places, the ‘Tahs will be left to rue one of their most disappointing seasons to date – indeed, this current crop stands in stark contrast to that which won the competition so marvellously just three years ago. This Friday they will host the Southern Kings, who go into this one off the back of a great showing at Suncorp last week, where they eventually went down to the Reds by 47-34. There is no doubting the fighting spirit and tenacity within this squad, and their performance against the Queenslanders underlined that, but there is no running away from the fact that theirs is a squad very low on real quality, and there is little to suggest any significant improvement in their result this week.
Waratahs v Kings Friday 21 April | Allianz Stadium | 11:45
To Win (80 Mins)
Waratahs 1/50 | Draw 35/1 | Kings 15/2
Waratahs | Kings
The Waratahs’ season reads as follows: played 7; won 2; lost 5. Their dismal showings in 2017 are partly due to an incompetent coaching staff, as well as a lack of accountability shown by their players. Star internationals such as Michael Hooper and Israel Folau have continually struggled for form, and indeed it looks as though this fantastic group of footballers look destined to do “a Reds”, and proceed to drastically devolve following a championship win, and subsequent departure of the head coach.
The ‘Tahs’ 38-28 result against the Hurricanes a fortnight ago was an improved showing from what we have become accustomed to so far, this season. There seemed to be a greater degree of intensity and doggedness about the Sydney men, and Gibson will point to this performance in an attempt to harness similar ones to close out their season, and perhaps move a few places up the ladder.
They should, ordinarily, ease to a comfortable win over the Kings this Friday, but there’s no telling what could unfold on the day. The Kings’ never-say-die attitude may challenge the unenergetic, one-dimensionality of this Waratahs outfit, who may concede a few soft points over the eighty.
Despite their 13-point loss at the hands of the Reds last week, there was much to celebrate in coach, Deon Davids’ side’s performance. Even with the game dying down, and with a comeback win unlikely, Davids’ boys showed great staying power to continue to pressurize the Reds; not unlike their display in their thrilling encounter against the Force the week before.
Although they seem destined to be playing their last season of Super Rugby, the Kings can do wonders for their morale by ending off their Aussie tour with a win here in Sydney. With former Lions and Sharks flyer, Wandile Mjekevu coming into the side, the Kings are seemingly ready to play a fast-paced, electrifying brand of football on Friday.
Davids reflected on his side’s growth on Wednesday. “We are a team that has grown tremendously on and off the field. The players have adapted well to the challenges of Super Rugby. As teammates, they have grown closer to one another,” he said.“It is still a process, but with each game, we are improving. I think we will continue to do that throughout the competition.”
Verdict: Waratahs (-22.5) 9/10
The Kings will definitely push them close during the first half, but will tire after a gruelling tour Down Under; while the ‘Tahs will be ready to fire after their rest week.