Super Rugby Quarter-Final: Waratahs v Highlanders Preview

Super Rugby Quarter Final: Waratahs v Highlanders Preview

The Highlanders may struggle to get the best of a Waratahs side more than capable of causing an upset when the two collide in the third Semi-final Qualifier on Saturday the 21st of July in Sydney, writes Shaun Goosen.

Waratahs v Highlanders
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
21 July 2018
12:05

To Win (80 Mins)
Waratahs 12/10
Draw 25/1
Highlanders 13/20

Handicap
Waratahs (+2.5) 9/10
Highlanders (-2.5) 9/10

Both outfits finished the regular season with 44-points, with the Highlanders finishing with one more win (10) than their trans-Tasman rivals. The convoluted Super Rugby playoff regulations, though, mean the men from Dunedin will travel to Sydney in what is an effective quarterfinal.

While most would ordinarily back Aaron Mauger’s gang to continue the Kiwi dominance over the Aussies, they may battle this week.

The 'Tahs have played impressively over the last few rounds, and have racked up as many as 139-points since the end of the June Test window. Despite a second-string side going down to the Brumbies last week, this weekend is another scenario altogether.

Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, and Bernard Foley are all expected to run out, meaning the ‘Landers can ill-afford to cough up possession. The triumvirate proved in the Ireland Test series just how lethal they can be with just inches of room.

In Aaron Smith and Lima Sopoaga, though – the latter playing what may be his final game in a yellow, blue and maroon jersey – the 2015 winners have a halfback combo capable of inflicting pain on any opposition on their day. With experience and 'X' factor in bucket loads, they certainly won’t shy away from the hard graft.

Squads

Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (c), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Subs: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Cam Clark, 23 Bryce Hegarty.

Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith (c), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Tei Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ask Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Matt Faddes.

Verdict: Waratahs 12/10
Unlike some of the other Semi-Qualifiers taking place this weekend, this match-up is decidedly tougher to call. As always, much will depend on the quality of ball each side manufactures but, in my mind, the men in light blue will ensure that next week’s semis include at least one Aussie flag-bearer.



Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets

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