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Sport Sloppy Waratahs give Penney reality check ahead of Crusaders opener

22:30  24 january  2020
22:30  24 january  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

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a group of baseball players playing a football game: Waratahs back-rower Jack Dempsey is tackled by Reds backs Jordan Petaia and Bryce Hegarty.© QRU/Brendan Hertel Waratahs back-rower Jack Dempsey is tackled by Reds backs Jordan Petaia and Bryce Hegarty. Dalby: The Waratahs’ pre-season momentum has been halted after a 28-19 defeat to the Queensland Reds in which playmaker Mack Mason picked up a groin injury that puts him in doubt for round one of Super Rugby next week.

After a 40-21 demotion of the Highlanders in Sydney last week, the Waratahs scored the first five-pointer of the game in country Queensland but conceded the next four to trail 28-7.

Late tries brought the margin back but some sloppy set-piece and general lack of polish was capitalised on by a pumped-up Reds outfit.

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“The result was not what we were after,” said Waratahs coach Rob Penney. “It wasn’t in the plan but you have to give a lot of credit to the Reds. They played really well and they comprehensively beat us. A disappointing final hit-out for us. We took a step backwards from last week, I guess.”

The Waratahs have accounted for the Reds 11 times on the trot in Super Rugby and while this was only a trial, the psychological edge won’t be as profound when the sides meet properly in round 12.

Four players from Australia’s starting XV in the World Cup quarter-final defeat to England – Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale, Jordan Petaia and Izack Rodda – as well as reserves Taniela Tupou and James O’Connor laced the boots to the delight of a local crowd of around 4000.

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The XXXX beer was going down a treat and there was all the brilliant buzz that comes with bush footy in the small town outside of Toowoomba.

"Passes were at ankles, behind shoulders ... and the Reds didn't have quite the same issues that we did," Penney said.

Kurtley Beale got through 70 minutes in Dalby in his first match of the year.© QRU/Brendan Hertel Kurtley Beale got through 70 minutes in Dalby in his first match of the year. "That consistency factor and skill execution, minute-by-minute is something that's been a little problem in previous seasons and something we're endeavouring to work on."

NSW No.10 Will Harrison had another auspicious game and has done no harm to his chances of starting next weekend against the Crusaders. He was eager to take on the line and while not flashy, did his job in a 40-minute cameo which featured a late try.

He came off at half-time but was put back on shortly after when Mason came from the field. Penney confirmed afterwards Mason had picked up a groin injury and would be assessed as the week goes on.

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With Kurtley Beale firming to start at fullback, if Mason is ruled out it would be a huge step-up for 20-year-old Harrison on debut against the three-time reigning Super Rugby champions.

“I don’t know too much detail yet,” said Penney of Mason's injury. “You deal with the injuries as they come about. [Five-eighth] is not a position we have a great deal of depth in, but as the week unfolds we’ll get more information on Mack and see where it leads.

“Will was efficient. He is a talented young man and he played well.”

Penalties were an issue for the Waratahs and their set-piece was not as clinical as it was during last week’s 19-point win over the Highlanders.

“I think we’re good enough to be better, we just weren’t tonight and there will be some repercussions for that,” Penney said. “Our lineout operated OK, but our maul was not as efficient as it needs to be. Our scrum was really good and then faltered at times. We were a mixed bag all over the park.”

Penney added: “The most disappointing factor was our lack of 'stickability' in the tackle. We were inefficient in our ability to hit, stick and live in that battle at the breakdown.”

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a group of baseball players playing a football game: James O'Connor gets ready to go into contact.© QRU/Brendan Hertel James O'Connor gets ready to go into contact. Mark Nawaqanitawase was once again terrific. He leaped high in the air Israel Folau-style to grab a crossfield kick at one point and scored a late diving try in the right corner.

The Waratahs registered the first points on a lovely evening courtesy of prop Tom Robertson from close range down the right side.

After some stoic defence from the Waratahs, the Reds hit back thanks to Harry Wilson off the back of a scrum to draw level at 7-7 after Bryce Hegarty’s conversion.

Reds second-rower Angus Blyth could be in strife for a high tackle on Harrison which saw him shown a yellow card midway through the first half.

There was real spice in this contest, with World Cup teammates Tupou and Hooper involved in a feisty scrap behind play at one point. Hooper took offence to one of Tupou’s cleanouts and the Tongan Thor was not going to back down, even to the incumbent Wallabies captain.

After the break, Hunter Paisami got a nice offload to Jock Campbell who scooted around under the sticks before a Liam Wright five-pointer from a driving maul gave the Reds a 21-7 lead that left NSW scrambling.

The Waratahs had a couple of chances to go over with a driving maul themselves, but Queensland were shrewd in defending them.

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