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Five things we learnt from Waratahs-Blues

Sat, 28/05/2022, 12:53 pm
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Waratahs host the Blues from Leichhardt Oval.

The Blues once again escaped jail and passed go, collected $200 and a club-record 13th win as they defeated the Waratahs 20-17.

Last week it was Beauden Barrett, this week Zarn Sullivan as an after-the-siren drop goal gave the ladder-leaders the victory.

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So what did we learn?

1.Clutch

Champion teams find ways to win games. The Blues are kings of this.

Coming off their tight win over the Brumbies, they were considered underdogs despite their incredible season, making 14 changes with top spot locked up.

However, the fight shown to hold out the Waratahs and the poise from Zarn Sullivan to slot the drop goal with around eight Waratahs chasing him down was all class.

It was the perfect way to cement their place in history, a club-record 13th win and firmly establish them as the team to beat in the finals.

2. Change of plans

A wild Saturday of results has teams reconsidering their finals destiny, no one more than the Waratahs.

They had been eyeing off a match-up with the Brumbies for weeks, however, their respective defeat to Moana Pasifika and the Blues ended any chances of that even after the Force's shock win.

Instead, they face a trip to Waikato against the Chiefs, the one team that can say they dominated the NSW side, largely down to two early cards.

They will be hoping Izaia Perese and Harry Johnson-Holmes will be back, racing the clock to be fit.

3. Holding on

The Blues can pin-point the ten minutes before the break as the key to their victory.

As the Waratahs found themselves parked in their 22, the Blues lost backrowers Adrian Choat and Akira Ioane to the bin, leaving them in serious danger on their goal-line.

However, their scrum kept them in the first half and earned a crucial penalty to flip momentum.

Another long arm minutes later allowed Jock McKenzie to kill more time and open the scoring as Archer Holz struggled to make any ground on his opposition number.

4. Second half Mark

Mark Nawaqanitawase has made it a habit of taking over games just after the break.

With their attack struggling to fire, the winger found himself in the right place at the right time to finish off a great pass from fellow winger Dylan Pietsch.

He then pulled off one of the finishes of the year five minutes later to find himself in the corner to solidify the lead.

Even his effort late to reclaim the kick off was elite and further evidence of his incredible transformation in 2022.

5. Build it and they will come

Darren Coleman’s Field of Dreams wish came to fruition with a crowd of just under 15,000 welcoming them for their final home game at Leichhardt Oval

It’s something that has slowly built over the season and to see a full grandstand and hill is indicative of the connection this team has made with a rugby community that didn’t want to know about them last year.

Hopefully, this continues when they make the move to Moore Park, with the odd game here and there at their newfound home.

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