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Waratahs take a leaf out of Six Nations champions Wales’ script

1. The New old northern Wales

The strong kicking game, the superb aerial presence, the rain, the line speed in defence: New South Wales looked very much like old northern Wales in Sydney on Saturday.

Given that Wales have just won the Six Nations thats not meant as a criticism. The Waratahs were incredibly disciplined to their game plan against the Crusaders, which meant that even when Jake Gordon came on their decision makers stuck to the script: put the ball in behind them and smash them.

Jack Dempsey hits the Crusaders line hard in an encouraging win for the Waratahs.

Jack Dempsey hits the Crusaders line hard in an encouraging win for the Waratahs.Credit:AAP

Of course, the Crusaders were emotionally drained after the Christchurch terror attacks but the Waratahs should also be given huge credit for the way they forced them into mistakes with pressure. It was not a night to chase the scoreboard in Sydney and the Waratahs understood it.

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In fact, you would have to say that it is harder to recall a better recent wet-weather performance from an Australian Super Rugby team.

The scrum denied the Crusaders their No 1 platform for winning penalties and launching moves, the loose forward trio dominated and the defensive lineout was strong with Rob Simmons work outstanding.

2. Red-hot Queensland warm up for Cooper in style

Good luck playing against Queenslanders on a brutal Brisbane afternoon. Poor old Brumbies flanker Tom Cusack went searching for oxygen in the second-half as he tried to chase down Samu Kerevi and instead copped a mouthful of hot, humid air.

That said, Brad Thorns hard training sessions during the Queensland summer are bearing fruit. For a big side, they move around the paddock well and I was transfixed by the efforts of Izack Rodda and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto in the second row on Sunday: talk about putting in a shift.

They have limitations but they are tough and a smart win against the Brumbies sets the scene for a clash against Quade Cooper and the Rebels next Saturday.

Its hard not to see that looming contest as a mini-referendum on Thorns coaching philosophy: culture over the maverick. Cooper has certainly suggested its personal with some of his social media posts so cancel your social engagements and stock up on popcorn: its going to be fun.

Queensland's Tate McDermott celebrates with Bryce Hegarty in their win over the Brumbies on Sunday.

Queensland's Tate McDermott celebrates with Bryce Hegarty in their win over the Brumbies on Sunday.Credit:AAP

3. Rebels may miss Genia but lost crucial one-on-ones

How much does the absence of Will Genia cost the Rebels? If you were handicapping them youd give the opposition a 10-point start, minimum.

But the loss against the Sharks in Durban was also down to the Rebels losing a number of the one-on-one battles within the game, particularly in areas where they have been strong.

Anaru Rangi came up against another pocket rocket hooker in Akker van der Merwe and couldnt quite match the Springbok, who is built very low to the ground and incredibly hard to take down.

Billy Meakes had his least accurate game of the season while opposite Andre Esterhuizen grew into the game with his strong ball carrying.

Tom English had some good moments in attack on the left wing but struggled to contain Sharks No 14 Sibusiso Nikosi, who looked electric with the ball in hand.

That was the story of the game, although Jack Maddocks showed some real promise at fullback after knocking on an early bomb and took his try superbly.

4. Golden loosehead Slipper is Australias form No.1

He copped a really cheap shot from Angus Scott-Young that disrupted his first half but there is growing evidence that the relocated Red is the form No 1 in Australia.

He outpointed Taniela Tupou at the scrum on Sunday and his experience around the paddock was evident. Older players dont chase lost causes at the breakdown and Slipper is old enough and wise enough to know when to get over the ball and when to hang back.

Leading No.1 James Slipper on the charge for the Brumbies on Sunday in Brisbane.

Leading No.1 James Slipper on the charge for the Brumbies on Sunday in Brisbane. Credit:AAP

Its been a great comeback from Slipper in Canberra but not surprising, and having his worRead More

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