SR: Blues 21, Waratahs 13

imagesBlues coach John Kirwan spent most of the week dealing with media enquiries surrounding Benji Marshall dramatic and sudden departure from Auckland.

He had to fit in a normal week’s preparations in a very abnormal week.

No doubt the off-field distractions will be a factor.

However, Kirwan is well aware that is on the field where his team’s biggest problem awaits – a must-win game against a very impressive and powerful Waratahs team.

“I don’t need to hide the fact of how important this match is for the franchise, for the team and for our fans,” Kirwan said. “We said last week that, against the Hurricanes, if we lost away from home then we were going to be under pressure and we’re under pressure.

“We’ve just got to get out there and go hard. “It’s going to be a really physical game, I don’t know how many Wallabies they’ve got, I stopped counting so it’s going to be a great match up,” Kirwan added. After notching up an important away against the Stormers in South Africa three weeks ago, Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is now looking to add a second.

And it is in the set pieces where they believe they can lay the foundation for that victory. Big lock Will Skelton said the side had spent a considerable amount of time making a weapon of their set piece work. “Like most teams we play, we try to put pressure on at set piece,” Skelton told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“This week they have an All Black front row and that’s going to be a test for us. “However, our focus this week has been pressure at set piece so if we work on that the result should come our way.”

Recent results:
2013: Waratahs won 30-27, Sydney
2011: Blues won 26-13, Auckland (preliminary play-off match)
2011: Blues won 31-17, Auckland
2010: Waratahs won 39-32, Sydney
2009: Waratahs 27-22, Auckland
2008: Waratahs 37-16, Sydney

Teams:

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Steven Luatua, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Pita Ahki.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements – from: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Pat McCutcheon, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Matt Carraro, 24 Stephen Hoiles.
 
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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