NSW out to break Blues Super Rugby drought

The NSW Waratahs are striving for their first Super Rugby win over the Blues in five years when they host the New Zealand franchise in Newcastle.

HARRY JOHNSON-HOLMES at David Phillips Sports Complex in Sydney, Australia.
HARRY JOHNSON-HOLMES  at David Phillips Sports Complex in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Rain is forecast for Newcastle on Saturday, where the NSW Waratahs hope to break a Super rugby drought against the Blues in their first home game of this campaign.

The Waratahs have not beaten the Blues since 2015, losing their last four encounters though their chances should be enhanced by Wallabies Harry Johnson-Holmes and Jack Dempsey boosting the run-on pack.

Coach Rob Penney retained round one debutants and exciting young backs, five-eighth Will Harrison and two -try winger Mark Nawaqanitawase from the side that lost 43-25 to the Crusaders last weekend.

Penney, saw enough in the Blues first-half effort in their opening round loss to the Chiefs to recognise the dangers they pose. The Blues led 19-5 at the break before losing 37-29 in Auckland.

"The first 40 was really good and if they played like that for 80 they would have won," Penney said.

"When you play the Blues it depends which team turns up. If they are up and excited they will be very very dangerous."

However, Penney conceded the forecast could blunt the Blues attacking threats.

"The weather conditions don't look as though it's going to be conducive to play an expansive game style," he admitted.

The Blues cause won't be helped by a spate of early season injuries, with All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane among several casualties.

"Injuries are part and parcel of this competition ... it gives us the opportunity early in the season to give opportunities to others," said Blues coach Leon Macdonald.

"I've got no doubt they can step up. The pack will be the cornerstone and we will look to provide the platform for our backs to show their skills against what will be a very good Waratahs team."

Penney said he wanted his team cut out the costly lapses of concentration and and mistakes which cut short a promising fightback against the Crusaders.

"We can't have that happening where we put ourselves in positions where we can potentially take games, and then let them slip so badly," he said.

"You can't can't repeat that. We've got to learn from it and get better at it.

"If we're in the same position this week I hope we're a lot more tenacious."


AAP