Anger turns to belief for Waratahs

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs change room was not a happy place at half-time on Friday night, but that anger finally sparked the second half they needed.

Coach Daryl Gibson, who told FOX SPORTS at half-time they were in for the fight of their lives, admitted he was a ‘little bit angry’ at the break.

“I felt we were shooting ourselves in the foot and making too many errors, too many mistakes that alleviated that pressure and so we fixed that up in the second half and we got that good result.

For captain Michael Hooper, a dominant second half was vindication of the stance he has taken publicly in recent weeks, spruiking the Waratahs’ training habits but lamenting their lack of execution.

“I feel like I’ve been bumping my head against a wall telling you guys (media) repeatedly that we are training well but we haven't been able to get in the games and that was how we've been training,” he said.

“I’m just really happy we can get that out there for the guys and for the younger parts of the team and the younger parts of the squad, get a reward for the hard work they've put in and what it feels like to get a good, grinding win.”

A big part of the win was their lineout dominance late, a stark contrast from the team that unravelled in the same area against the Brumbies just six day ago.

“I was really proud of the set piece, really proud of the tight five to have the game like we did last week and then turn it around and that be an actual weapon for us this week.”

The Waratahs managed to gain ascendancy through the lineout. Photo: Getty ImagesNed Hanigan barely put a foot wrong replacing Jack Dempsey at blindside flanker and Hooper said it didn’t feel like he was a new face at all, in his first Super Rugby start.

“A guy coming in for a first start you're worried about them doing their own thing and not talking and giving back to the team,” he said.

“Ned, to no surprise, was talking and really vocal and wanting, he was a real driver of the belief that we could get there  in the end.”

Gibson praised the contribution of returning flyhalf Bernard Foley and said he felt this was a turning point for the Waratahs.

“He obviously gave a lot of fluency,” he said.

“I thought at times he was a little bit rusty, (he threw) a couple of errant passes there but I thought on balance, in his first game back after a four-week layoff, he was excellent.

“So, it's the kind of victory that you build from.

“Obviously our task next week gets tougher but we enjoy playing Kiwi teams so something to look forward to.”

The Waratahs take on the Crusaders next Sunday afternoon, kicking off at 4:05pm AEST.