NSW Waratahs v QLD Reds: Five key match-ups to keep an eye on
While the NSW v QLD rivalry isn’t quite as strong as years gone by, Saturday’s clash at the SCG is still an intriguing one.
Here are five key match ups to keep an eye on.
Brendan Paenga-Amosa v Damien Fitzpatrick
Deemed not good enough for Super Rugby by those in NSW, Brenda Paenga Amosa has been brilliant since moving north of the border and will have a point to prove in front of friends, family and the Waratahs coaching staff when he lines up against Damien Fitzpatrick at the SCG.
Both hookers are in contention for the Wallabies June Test series squad but play very different games. Fitzpatrick is a traditional No.2 and is strong at set piece, while Paenga Amosa has a massive impact around the park but can be a little inconsistent, particularly at lineout time.
Whoever improves the weaker part of their game may find themselves in a gold jersey before the year is out.
Izack Rodda & Kane Douglas v Ned Hanigan & Rob Simmons
A battle for the purists of the game.
Both the Reds and the Waratahs like to play flat, attacking rugby and that only works when the big men in the engine room get over the advantage line.
Rodda and Hanigan both have bucketloads of potential and could potentially find themselves playing alongside one another in a Wallabies jersey down the track. In the interim, they’ll battle for position on Michael Cheika’s pecking order and will need to take every opportunity to outplay their opponent.
Alternatively, Douglas and Simmons have been there and done that. They’ll both line up against their former clubs on Saturday in a match where their experience may prove crucial.
James Tuttle v Jake Gordon
After losing his starting spot to Ben Lucas, James Tuttle gets a chance to win back the Reds starting No.9 jersey this weekend when he lines up against Jake Gordon.
Gordon has been impressive in the opening months of 2018 and his impact around the park is hard to match. But he will also be feeling the pressure from Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps, who returns from injury this weekend and will play from the bench.
Samu Kerevi v Kurtley Beale
Samu Kerevi and Kurtley Beale will square off in another battle that Michael Cheika will be keeping a close eye on.
Kerevi will do his best to run over Beale, when he defends in the front line, and get the Reds on the front foot.
Beale will wait for his moment and try and find gaps in the tiring Reds defensive line.
If either have success, it will most likely affect the scoreboard and could be the difference come 9:30pm on Saturday night.
Aiden Toua v Bryce Hegarty
Bryce Hegarty has been the surprise package of the 2018 Super Rugby season so far and continues to impress at the back for the Waratahs.
The fullback is playing with an incredible amount of confidence after stealing the No.15 jersey from Israel Folau and seems to find a way to be in the right place at the right time this year.
Toua is probably a more dynamic player than Hegarty and can tear the Waratahs apart if they offer a broken defensive line. With Kerevi at 12, the Reds will rely on Toua to spark their attack out wide