NSW Waratahs review attacking edge ahead of ACT Brumbies match

NSW Waratahs coaching staff have focussed on the team’s failure to turn pressure into points against Queensland Reds as they try to avenge last year’s embarrassment in Canberra this weekend.

Tahs centre Lalakai Foketi revealed Darren Coleman and his staff made a point of highlighting missed opportunities in the 20-16 loss at Leichhardt Oval, during this week’s game review.

Foketi was the latest Tahs player to characterise the defeat as one that slipped their grasp.

“DC and the coaches put a stat up that we entered their 22 and goal zone 13 times and we only put points on them twice,” Foketi said on Tuesday. “That’s a crazy stat for us to look at. If we’re entering their 22 that many times and only coming away with points twice we’ve got to work something out there and see what we can do better.”

While that stat concerns the Tahs in the here and now, there’s another one hanging over their heads from last year’s visit to GIO Stadium.

The Brumbies won 61-10 with the 51 points the biggest margin ever between the two sides, and the 61 points the most ever scored by the Brumbies against their traditional rivals.

A hat-trick from Mack Hansen, who is now carving it up with Ireland, came off the back of some dominant Brumbies mauling.

“Brumbies down there is really tough. We’re not getting that mixed up,” Foketi said.

: Lalakai Foketi poses during the Australian Wallabies player portrait session at Event Cinemas Coomera on June 23, 2021 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

The centres battle between Foketi and Izzy Perese, up against the Brumbies’ Irae Simone and Len Ikitau promises to be an exciting affair.

“Irae and Lenny are both fantastic players, they’ve got great skills and are very powerful,” said Foketi. “For me and Izzy it’s the same as each week, worry about ourselves, do what’s best and try influence it on the field.

“People will look at it as a battle between the centres and we’re excited about it. They’re both great players and me and Izzy want to be the best and showcase what we’re good at.”

The Brumbies scraped through in their opening match against the Force before cruising to a win over Fijian Drua but attack coach Rod Seib said the team was still building momentum.

He also suggested the Brumbies should expect a tougher Tahs opponent than they faced last season.

“We recognise the Waratahs have had a a fantastic start to the season,” Seib said Tuesday.

“We played them in a trial and we saw what they brought – a level of physicality both sides of the ball.

“They’re really well coached and will be well prepared. I think it’s more about us for us. We’re still trying to build and each week we want to make that small incremental improvement and if we can do that again this week we’re on the right path.”

Pushed on where he thought the Tahs had improved, Seib said: “Certainly around the contact areas. They’re really abrasive, 1-15 they’re big fellas around the park, so they physically well equipped to handle it around the contact areas.

“So that’s what we acknowledge – whether where hitting up through the middle or finding the wide breakdown, if we’re backward in that regard we’re going to get wiped off the park.”

Overall, Seib is happy with his team’s progression.

“You’d like to think our skill level is really quite high but around contact we’re a little over tentative at times , probably just getting up to game speed,” Seib said.

“In the first round there was a lot of turnovers pushing the pass when it wasn’t on.”

Against the Drua, there was a magic moment where Wallabies No.8 Rob Valetini burst out of a pack and raked a long kick down field. Seib said no one would be reining the exciting loose forward in.

“The general message around kicking is stick to your skill set,” Seib said. “The reality is we’ve got blokes in the forward pack who have got a good skill set there. Bobby ‘s left foot is fantastic, so he’s got the skill set to use it.

“There’s blokes 1-15 who can put it on the foot and understanding if there’s a bit of back field space we’ve got to potentially get it through through the foot and sometimes it’s always the back on the end of that play.”

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