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Super Rugby: Improved Waratahs set for Finals spot

The Waratahs can ensure that they will play in the Finals at the end of the Super Rugby season by beating the Fijian Drua at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

Darren Coleman's Waratahs have won their last three games and will no doubt be highly confident that they can make it four in a row against a side they defeated 46-17 earlier this season.

The hosts have also won all three of the previous meetings with Drua and in convincing style as well, claiming 38-14 and 40-10 victories last season.

WhatWaratahs v Fijian Drua
WhereAllianz Stadium, Sydney
When19:35 (AEST), Saturday 20th May 2023
How to watchStan Sport
OddsWaratahs 1.20, Fijian Drua 4.50

Intensity drives Waratahs' upturn

Three victories on the spin have catapulted the Tahs into Finals contention and lock forward Hugh Sinclair is clear about how that improvement has come about.

He told reporters: "We've just increased the intensity (in training), we're looking to keep the ball in play for longer, playing fast and just being intense and that's paying dividends."

That new-found intensity has seen the Waratahs record wins over the Rebels (38-20), the Reds (32-24) and the Highlanders (21-20), proving that they can get the job done when games are tight.

Meanwhile, their run of three wins in their last three games is matched by victories in each of their last three home matches.

The Tahs have been forced into one significant change for the clash with the Drua, with centre Lalakai Foketi ruled out by an ankle injury and Joey Walton drafted in to take his place alongside the in-form Izaia Perese.

Both Foketi and Perese have scored two tries in their last three outings and the latter is 2.75 to score a try at anytime on Saturday.

The lineout is sure to be a key area if the hosts are to extend their winning run, with Jed Holloway having stolen nine lineouts this season, two more than any other player.

The Tahs have scored four tries from possession begun with a lineout steal, which is also a league-leading mark.

And the Waratahs have also been boosted for next season as well, with winger Mark Nawaqanitawase having signed a new contract to remain with the franchise for next season.

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Drua struggle on the road

Head coach Mick Byrne’s Drua have won only one of the five matches they have played across April and May, that being a narrow 27-24 success at home to the lowly Highlanders earlier this month.

Last time out they were downed 34-14 by Western Force and Byrne has responded by handing Peti Matawalu a start at scrumhalf, forming a halfback pairing with Caleb Muntz.

Prop Mesake Doge has been included on the bench after a long-term injury absence and is poised to make his first appearance of the season, with the Drua still holding hopes of securing a Finals spot.

They will need to up their attacking output if they are to have any chance of upsetting the Waratahs this weekend, having not scored 20 points in three of their last four games.

Previously they had reached that mark in each of their previous five matches.

And if they are to improve their offence, then centre Iosefo Masi is likely to be a key figure, scoring two tries and making two assists across his last five outings.

Masi is 2.30 to score a try at anytime against the Waratahs, while he is 15.00 to score the opening try of the game.

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