Super Rugby Report Card: Waratahs

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The 2018 Super Rugby season is over for the Aussies.

We're taking a look at how each of the sides fared in 2018.

How did the Waratahs finish up?

Finish: Semi-finalists  - 9 wins, 1 draw, 6 losses

High point: Come-from-behind 30-23 win against Highlanders quarter-final

Low point: A 29-0 loss to the Lions in Sydney.

Biggest strength: Backline

The Waratahs boast a scintillating attack and when their backline is on it is near unstoppable. NSW was third only to the Crusaders and Lions when it came to tries scored in 2018. Their 86 tries this season is nearly double their 2017 tally of 52.

Biggest weakness: Not much grunt

The Waratahs pack battled above its weight for much of the season and showed plenty of character along the way. Their mobility paid off at times but ultimately it was where they fell down when it counted. Twice against the abrasive Lions they were overpowered in the pack and that difference eventually cost them a chance to play in the Super Rugby finals.

Try of the season: Naiyaravoro vs Rebels


Taqele Naiyaravoro leaves the Waratahs with the team's season try-scoring record and this was one of his best.

Blunder of the season: Final minutes vs Blues

The Waratahs were on the verge of breaking the New Zealand drought at Brookvale Oval against the Blues but they unravelled in the final 10 minutes. Captain Michael Hooper gave them a sniff of victory but an overly-ambitious Kurtley Beale cross-kick and a Paddy Ryan knock on after full-time ended their chances and put a dent in their championship credentials.

MVP: Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale was back in sky blue this season after a bad run of injuries and a UK stint and it’s no coincidence the Waratahs rediscovered some of their best rugby. Beale still brings the X-factor but has matured into a more composed player than in the past. Halfback Nick Phipps said before the side’s semi-final that Beale was the team’s ‘spark’ and a player the rest of the side feeds off. When he’s playing well the Waratahs are going well and both were going really well in 2018.

Rookie of the year: Will Miller

Miller came to the Waratahs ready-made for Super Rugby and with every challenge he stepped up. Stood out at blindside flanker and then stepped into Michael Hooper’s shoes for the final month of the season and only continued to impress. Norths fans won’t be surprised by his seamless step-up but he certainly has big things ahead.

Best Buy: Rob Simmons

Simmons might not be the most high-profile recruit the Waratahs have ever had but the second rower found a new life at the Waratahs. And they absolutely needed it. With Jack Dempsey and Michael Hooper injured Ned Hanigan was called back to blindside flanker and Simmons’ experience became invaluable for the side.

Social MVP: Tom Robertson's new addition

 

Tom Robertson gives an update on his new little friend 😂

A post shared by rugby.com.au (@rugbycomau) on


Tom Robertson has been the most improved Waratahs player this season but, in true front rower form, he generally went under the radar. That was until his brutal cauliflower ear became a social sensation.

What they said:

"It's the combination of a lot of effort from the players, administratively and as coaches.

"We're trying to be more consistent and get better every day.

"We're pleased to get to where we were but we're really determined to take that extra step and see if we can do better next year."

- Daryl Gibson

Grade: B+

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