Fresh off ending the longest win streak in Super Rugby history last week and sitting pretty at the top of the Australian conference, confidence around the NSW base at Daceyville is through the roof. The Waratah’s defense which they have dubbed ‘The Blue Wall’ strangled the previously unbeaten Crusaders at the SCG forcing them into a very uncharacteristic error ridden performance.
A lot of praise has been heaped on new Welsh defence coach Steve Tandy midweek after allowing the Crusaders just 12 points, which included a try off a blatant forward pass and another after the full time siren.
Just over 24 hours after hearing their Super Rugby journey would all come to an end in 2021 the Sunwolves marched out in Singapore to face the might of the Lions. Despite leading 7-0 they eventually succumbed to a 3rd successive loss going down 37-24, thereby slipping to last on the overall Super Rugby ladder. The historic win over the Chiefs in Hamilton seems a long time ago for the embattled franchise. Having said that a last ditch Karmicheal Hunt charge down attempt was the difference between these sides when they met in round 2 so don’t expect all one-way traffic on a warm evening in the Hunter.
The Waratahs have played the Sunwolves four times in Super rugby and they have won all four matches making them unbeaten against the Japanese side.
Three of the matches were played in Tokyo and one was played in Sydney. This weekend the match will be played in Newcastle.
The last time the Waratahs played the Sunwolves on Australian soil was last year in 2018 and they won 77-25.
Average score: Waratahs 54 Sunwolves 24
Last four results
Sat, 23 Feb 2019 Waratahs 31-30 Sunwolves @Tokyo
Sat, 07 Jul 2018 Waratahs 77-25 Sunwolves @Sydney
Sat, 07 Apr 2018 Waratahs 50-29 Sunwolves @Tokyo
Sat, 02 Jul 2016 Waratahs 57-12 Sunwolves @Tokyo
Waratahs overall record against the Sunwolves
Played 4 , Wins 4 , Losses 0, Draws 0
Just four personnel changes to the Waratahs side that knocked the Crusaders off their perch last weekend with three of those occurring due to Wallaby rest allocations. The aforementioned Mack Mason and Micheal Wells will start in place of Bernard Foley and Jack Dempsey. Elsewhere Karmicheal Hunt returns at outside centre in place of Adam Ashley-Cooper while the aggressive Lachlan Swinton will join Wells and captain Hooper in a new-look back row. This sees Ned Hanigan shifting into the 2nd row in place of Jed Holloway who is out with a rib injury. Israel Folau’s 112kg younger brother John, is set for his debut after being named as a late inclusion on the bench.
The big news out of the Japanese camp is that disgraced number 8 Amanaki Mafi will not make the trip down under after a visa issue prevented him from entering the country. In other team news Hendrik Tui returns at blindside flanker, while bruising lock Uwe Helu has been promoted to start.
WARATAHS (15-1): Israel Folau, Cam Clark, Karmichael Hunt, Kurtley Beale, Alex Newsome, Mack Mason, Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (c), Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons, Ned Hanigan, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Harry Johnson-Holmes
Reserves: Andrew Tuala, Rory O’Connor, Chris Talakai, Ryan McCauley, Tom Staniforth, Jake Gordon, Lalakai Foketi, John Folau
SUNWOLVES (15-1): Ryohei Yamanaka, Gerhard van den Heever, Jason Emery, Harumichi Tatakawa, Semisi Masirewa, Hayden Parker, Kaito Shigeno, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Dan Pryor (c), Hendrik Tui, Uwe Helu, Grant Hattingh, Jiwon Koo, Jaba Bregvadze, Pauliasi Manu
Reserves: Nathan Vella, Masataka Mikami, Takuma Asahara, Mark Abbott, Kara Pryor, Fumiaki Tanaka, Takuya Yamasawa, Josh Timu
Match Officials and details
Date : Friday 29 March
Venue : McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick Off local: 19:45
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1:Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 2:Egon Seconds
TMO : George Ayoub