What are we talking about after the Waratahs' loss to the Blues?
1. Waratahs hang on. Just.
Here we are again. The Waratahs have kept themselves in finals contention, just, with a single point from Auckland. Now, we wait to see if the Brumbies can at least match that against the Force. There’s little pressure on the ACT side but as Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said to Sky Sports after the match, “Stranger things have happened.” At least the Force wear blue - will make it easy for Tahs fans to jump on that bandwagon on Saturday night.
2. Missed opportunities
It’s a broken record..When the skills came off for the Waratahs, it looked brilliant - finishing in an Israel Folau try. It was unstructured play that handed Angus Ta’avao their fourth as well. But for so much of what could be their final 2016 game, it was the same story. Opportunities presented themselves and the Waratahs couldn’t take them.When they did, it took just a handful of minutes before the Blues replied. It’s great when it works and they just need to do that more often, a sentiment that Michael Hooper expressed post-match, as his side was left to rue some chances.
3. Scrum swings to the top
Had anyone said at the start of the season that the Waratahs scrum would put on prolonged pressure, most probably would have dismissed that idea. And yet in the final regular season round, they opened their account with a penalty try after four impressive scrum efforts. In a penalty try-fest, the Waratahs’ first two tries came from scrum penalties. We’ve officially seen it all this season.
4. No zoom, no foul
When Patrick Tuipulotu crossed for the Blues’ first try of the match, the referees rolled back the clock to check on potentially Michael Hooper foul play in the middle of the field. With two camera angles and “no zoom”, though, they were unable to determine exactly what happened. While no one really made any mistakes in the process, it was a strange turn of events to see technology that seemingly has a very low ceiling.
5. Nanai a blue chip
The Blues might be the only Kiwi side to miss out on the finals but they’ve unravelled some gems this season. Melani Nanai has been super for Auckland at fullback this year after being plucked from club rugby. The Blues 15 finished off an Ihaia West chip kick in the 63rd minute to add another highlight to his 2016 season. Watch this space.