Penney says 'ramifications' to follow after Waratahs' insipid forward showing against Reds

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

The Waratahs can expect "ramifications" for their poor pack performance against the Reds on Friday night, with coach Rob Penney likely to consider his options for the starting side to face the Crusaders on Saturday.

While Mack Mason limping off with a groin injury has put a question mark over who will earn playmaking duties, the efforts of the forwards have also left Penney with questions ahead of round one.

The Tahs scored the opening try after controlling the ball for several phases early in the game, with Tom Robertson diving through the attempted tackle of Reds hooker Alex Mafi to score.

But their forwards were bullied for much of the next hour, with handling errors, messy work at the breakdown and futile mauling attempts blighting their play.

"Our line operated okay but our maul was not as efficient as it needs to be," Penney said of the set piece.

"Our scrum was okay at times and then faltered at times - at critical moments too.

"We had some soft moments. So it was a mixed bag on that front. And we were a mixed bag across the park really all evening."

Penney conceded his side would struggle against the ruthless Crusaders if they failed in the same areas again - but said they were in for the same result regardless of the opposition if they could not strengthen their set piece.

"It's the heart and soul of your team, your set piece, and we did hit some wobbles," he said.

"I think we're good enough to be better, we just weren't tonight - and there'll be some repercussions for that."

Defence was also an issue.

"The most disappointing factor was our lack of stickability in the tackle," he said.

"We were inefficient in our ability to hit and stick and live in the battle in the breakdown.

"The defensive side of the ball really sets your attitude and it probably indicated something wasn't quite right or where it needed to be tonight."

Penney paid tribute to the Reds for taking the game away from his side but remained disappointed with some areas.

"The result was not what we were after, it wasn't in the plan. But you've got to give a lot of Reds, they played really well and they comprehensively beat us. It's a disappointing final hit-out for us," he said.

"The positives are we integrated four Wallaby boys back, they haven't had any rugby and it's still the end of January, so it's been a very quick turnaround for the boys to get their heads around the footy stuff.

"We took a step backwards from last week, I guess but the quality of the Reds was the telling factor."

While some individuals could pay a price, they won't include the Wallabies players, who impressed in their return to the field last night.

Kurtley Beale played almost a full match in an effort that earnt praise from the coach.

"Seventy minutes off the back of nothing really was a great credit to the man," Penney said.

"Really I wasn't critiquing his game today, it was just about getting him back - same with all the internationals.

"It's a tough ask after a good break after the World Cup. They've done some good work themselves conditioning but there's nothing like getting out on the field and I thought all four of them did really well."

Ned Hanigan won't be an answer though, Penney confirming he was sidelined with continuing concussion issues.

"We'll reassess that as the week goes on but highly likely unavailable," he said.

"He's had a series of concussions in the past.

"He's not far away. He's really improving out of sight and he's very well but we're taking medical advice that he's not quite right yet."