Is NSW Varata better than Queensland Red?

It was a sea-changing moment in the fate of Australian provincial rugby. For the first time since the new iteration of Super Rugby began in 2021, the sky blue has risen above the Maroons on the ladder of a league table. At the same time, the Waratas have outscored their most bitter rivals by the number of their wins against New Zealand.

New South Wales have now beaten both Crusaders and Highlanders in the Super Pacific 2022, while Queensland will have to return on 29 May 2021 for their only win against the Chiefs.

Although the Reds are omnipotent against local opponents, Tahs has proved more adaptable and successful against trans-Tasman opponents. In Sunday evening’s clash against the Highlanders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Bar Stadium, they even felt confident enough to rest forwards like Angus Bell, Jade Hallway and Charlie Gamble, who were the focal point of their performance in 2022.

Other first-choice picks, such as Harry Johnson-Holmes, and center Izia Perez, were also missing when you had the confidence to rotate the players and still know that your basics are good enough to deliver a competitive performance away from home, you are a winner.

For all their dominance inside Australia, the Reds have yet to take the next step. Brad Thorne and his accusers are trapped under a glass roof, while Darren Coleman’s squad has already blown through it. If this raises questions about Thorne’s ability to reach the next level as head coach, it will surely slow his players’ progress towards full Walabi honors.

Looking ahead to England in July, and beyond the Bladeslow Cup series, Dave Rennie will reward players above all who know how to win games against opponents from outside Australia’s borders.

In the meantime, Renee has more in mind to join the ranks. His starting squad picks include Angus Bell, Dave Poreky, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jade Hallway, Michael Hooper and Lachi Swinton; And behind Ben Donaldson, Lalkai Fouquetty, Jack Gordon, Isaiah Perez.

If that 40-member team is re-elected now, others like Ned Hannigan, Mark Nawakanitawas and Charlie Gamble will probably be added – at least, when the latter qualifies for the Wallachians.

They seem to possess qualities that are so eager to give birth to Darren Coleman: a sense of humility in Jersey and a willingness to dedicate their time to helping others. Coleman’s forward coach Paoli Taumopou recently commented on Charlie Gamble:

“The thing I like about Charlie is that every week there’s a real compliment whenever he’s named. Very excited.

Everyone sees what he gives on the field, but off the field he is just as impressive. He’s the guy who always hangs out to help a teammate do extra work: passing, catching, lifting, whatever. You look, and it’s always Charlie. He is just quality.

“We are still trying to find an error. I haven’t found it yet. ”

Captain Michael Hooper added after the Forsyth-Bar win:

“We have a really good style of play. Our coaches are tough on us when we make mistakes, they tell us about them and they want to improve us. It’s done in a really good fashion with the idea of ​​being a better team and being a better player – they’re playing for each other, we’re in a better place. ”

One of the primary advantages of that clear concept of team-ship is that the players really believe in a rotation principle at the selection table, designed to give the key players a rest and give shots at the beginning of the rest of the squad. They trust each other to create a performance that does not lose much more than it has before, with little or no value.

At present, nothing can be said about the setup in Queensland. When the Reds lost key players before fighting the Kiwi opponents, they fought to replace them without losing effectiveness.

The second major bonus of the rotation is that it allows you to pack your bench with strength and quality and this is the course Darren Coleman chose against the Highlanders. He chose a 6-2 split between the forward and the back and looked to the likes of Bell, Hanigan and Gamble to make a difference in the final quarter of the game.

They did just that. All three landed on the field near the hour mark, just after Scott Gregory’s attempt to bring the score back to four-point interval, and Waratahra went ahead with the next 13 points to keep the outcome of the game out of doubt.

As Justin Marshall put it during the in-game commentary:

“They have all added a lot to the Waratas. The players who were injected by the Highlanders could not add themselves to the game like those boys. The impact of the Waratas’ bench is just outstanding and is probably the catalyst for them to win this game. “

The statistics of those last 20 minutes are startling:

Player Runs Meters Defenders beaten Offload Forced turnover
Ned Hannigan 7 61 2 2 2
Angus Bell 7 28 1 0 1
Charlie Gamble 3 7 0 0 2

Add to strength Bunny Michael Hooper, including his seven runs at 81 meters and a clean break, beating four defenders, one offload, a forced turnover and 18 tackles leading the game, and you have a great final quarter package. It was totally too much for the Highlanders.

When Ned played the role of Holloway in defending Hannigan, the ball-carrier stopped high and won turnover from the deck:

Charlie Gamble was doing the same thing on the ground,

These two on-ball penalties were awarded first by Captain Fantastic Michael Hooper and secondly by an automated tackle-and-jackal with fellow super-sub, center Jamie Roberts.

Nick Berry was obviously busy reading last week’s article and for once, Angus Bell found himself free from the referee’s condemnation for blessedly breaking the scram!

As usual, if the set-piece works properly, the defense is gas-free in both cases:

And attack,

This sequence is an excellent example of how new energy can bend off the attack to provide new impetus. Ned Hannigan has two bits of constructive play – a smooth tip-on pass, and another to be restored to the top of a positive run by a forward replacement (Jeremy Williams), then a perfect cut-out pass by Gamble Putting Angus. Bell with a hole in the midfield. The result? Penalty is missed by an extended D and the other three points.

Michael Hooper and Jamie Roberts have both enjoyed their best performances so far. Hooper made a great attempt from the base of the rack (highlight relay 2:45).

He then drew a red card from Sam Gilbert for a dangerous tip tackle [@1:25 on the reel]. Hooper was sympathetic and was as good as a linking number 7:

Again, it’s all about joining new energy. Scrum-half was handed over to Jake Gordon Hooper, who moved away from the tackle to join Ned Hannigan, who in turn was able to offload for the Redkie Foucault to take the game deeper into the Highlanders 22. By the end of the play, Williams has already reasserted himself for the next phase of the attack in support of Fouquetty and Hanigan’s cleanout.

Here is another sequence depicting the same theme:

Jamie did what he did for Wales on countless occasions, winning the first clash with Gamble in close support to set Hannigan for a second wave run. Another penalty, three more points.

It was the much-maligned Ned Hannigan who was the most productive azure blue addition off the bench. He froze the match, contributing two strong runs in four episodes before taking a decisive break and offloading Ten Admed:


The passing of each round of the Super Rugby Pacific 2022 cross-border segment has brought more excitement for New South Wales and more concern for Queensland – despite a 34-22 win over Moana Pacific in Suncorp.

Darren Coleman continues to build confidence throughout the Waratahs squad and the virus is spreading rapidly. He was able to spin six front-ranked ‘old reliable’ in his starting line-up and still come out on top with a resounding victory at Forsyth-Bar Stadium.

It is fair to say that Coleman is breeding confidence in his allegations against the Kiwi opposition faster than Brad Thorne could in Queensland. The Reds still rely heavily on the presence of key players and their confidence does not flow through the full depths of the squad. They have yet to come up with a game formula that creates serious problems for the team from Aotaroa.

At the same time Coleman’s bold choices – picking Bell, Hannigan and Gamble’s choices off the bench and choosing to split the Pines 6-2 – were subtly judged and won the game for New South Wales in the final quarter. . If RA is looking for an Australian coach after Dave Renee, Darren Coleman is already extending his hand for the job.

If Coleman goes there, he can find a lot of players in the Walabi squad. The 40-member Wallaby squad currently has ten, but at the current rate of progress, at least three more could be added: Ned Hanigan, Mark Nawakanitawas and Charlie Gamble (when qualified).

If so, the ‘sea-change’ will be completed in something rich and bizarre, and the reigning Super Rugby AU champions may inadvertently find a more distant image of themselves in Dave Rainey’s rear-view mirror.

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