Waratahs aim to break shackles against Kiwis
April 20, 2014
Israel Folau's early try showed what the Waratahs are capable of © Getty Images
The New South Wales Waratahs are sweating on Kurtley Beale being fit as they look to break the shackles in key clashes with Super Rugby free spirits the Blues and Hurricanes.
After crossing for just four tries in their past four games against dour South African opposition and the Western Force, the Waratahs have identified the next two outings with New Zealand rivals as an opportunity to reignite their misfiring attack.
The Waratahs opened their 2014 campaign with back-to-back, four-try bonus-point wins and, with attacking trump Israel Folau back on deck against the Bulls on Saturday night, teased fans with a glimpse of what could be in store when the star-studded backline shifts into top gear.
The competition's leading try-scorer with nine five-pointers in five games, Folau provided the finishing polish after Bernard Foley, Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper combined brilliantly to prise open the Bulls defence.
Folau's strike after just 28 seconds was the fastest try of the season and lit up Allianz Stadium. But the Waratahs never went close to scoring after Beale limped off before half-time with an ankle injury in a tight 19-12 victory. NSW coach Michael Cheika will closely monitor Beale's progress before the Waratahs head to New Zealand on Thursday for an Anzac Day showdown with the Blues at Eden Park.
"He just jammed his ankle a little bit, so there's a bit of swelling there," Cheika said. "He'll take a couple of days off now and see how he fares in relation to the preparation for Auckland."
Foley said Beale "was pretty confident in the sheds after the game" and Waratahs No.10 Bernard Foley was desperate for his playmaking right-hand man to face the Blues.
"The attack's not far away from clicking," Foley said.
Cheika has challenged his players to persist with their daring ball-in-hand style as the countdown to the finals begin, but knows the Waratahs must cut their mistake rate against the dangerous Blues.
"They've got firepower and at Eden Park, of course on Anzac Day, it's going to be a pretty big day for everyone involved and they're a team that can score tries," Cheika said. "But them playing like that opens up opportunities for us as well. There's a different dynamic with us against a team like that as opposed to us and a team like the Bulls. They're very dangerous in attack, especially off broken play. So errors will kill us."
Skipper Dave Dennis believes the fourth-placed Waratahs are positioned well to make a finals charge and are up for Cheika's challenge.
"Now we face two New Zealand teams where I think our game will be suited to what they're going to throw at us," he said. "We've just got to keep sticking to what we believe in, our style of rugby, and we'll get some good results."
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