Michael Hooper looked outstanding in the No.7 shirt for the Waratahs tonight.
His defensive play alerted the Rebels’ weaknesses, having held on their build-up attack not just himself but also his support channels via the forwards, including Harry Johnson-Holmes, to capitalize on these mistakes.
It denied the Rebels backline from executing things off in the final third that helped the Waratahs win the ball & pull it off for the maximum points possible that put pressure back to the opposition.
Hooper can contribute to the attack with the passing and pace to get the support they need via the passage of play to stay in line through the channels.
That one example, Hooper assisted Joey Walton, who plays outside center, pulled off the touchdown in the 56th minute.
Hooper found some space out straight when the Rebels didn’t have some blocks to cover & successfully offloaded Walton with the lightning blast on the run home, concise communication.
Another great example with seven to go when Andrew Deegan tried to clear out himself with no men there, Hooper deflected it and bounced towards Will Harrison to complete his first touchdown.
Overall, the players built around Hooper benefitted his leadership & all-round contribution tonight.
He has to be one of the skilled operators in the Waratahs backline alongside all-rounder Michael Hooper in the forwards’ pack.
As usual, his kicking between the sticks is excellent.
Not just the kicking Harrison possesses, he can be a brilliant contributor/playmaker in the build-up attack thanks to the Waratahs defensive work after noticing the Rebels’ finishing struggles.
Communication is crucial to help Harrison use all these attacking ingredients to get around some space.
And from there, make his men alert to exploit the Rebels’ defenders before entirely focusing on converting inside the goalposts.
As I mentioned above, when writing about Michael Hooper’s all-around communication, especially late in the 2nd half, Hooper took advantage of Andrew Deegans’ failed cleanout kick & quickly found Harrison to profit their mistake with the touchdown.
Great to see Harrison gather plenty of support to back up his instincts tonight.
He may have scored the double touchdown in the last 40 tonight for the Rebels.
The Rebels forward pack’s brilliant defense and hard work helped catch up on the scoreboard sheet.
However, discipline issues and a lack of finishing from the backline with a lack of communication saw them fall short.
It made the Rebels defend under pressure where the gaps from their end saw the Waratahs win a few touchdowns & leak points.
Despite the loss, it still puts the Rebels in contention to advance the Qualifying final v the Reds thanks to the single bonus point.
Although, there’s no guarantee that the Rebels will beat the Western Force next Saturday.
But they see it as an easy game to get over the line without the loss that will haunt the Waratahs in the end next Saturday afternoon.