Waratahs want more after taking conference lead

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs are far from satisfied with their showing in claiming a bonus point win over the Reds, conscious of an immediate need to improve for a blockbuster clash with the Lions.

NSW is enjoying its best start to a season since 2016, returning to the top of the Australian conference for the first time since that same season with Saturday’s win.

As they prepare to face last year’s runner-up side, though, coach Daryl Gibson said they had to strive to deliver more than they had at the SCG.

“We’re really chasing that 80-minute performance,” he said.

“We felt at times we lacked that ball control that we've been striving for and also that ball control that leads to pressure on ourselves.”

That they could still finish with a bonus-point win in spite of their patchy skills was a major positive, skipper Michael Hooper said.

“It's a really pleasing aspect within that negative not being able to finish our passes,” he sad.

"I think there would have been two or three tries that we just would have ran in under the sticks.

“The real pleasing thing is we were able to come back from that.

“That can sometimes get you down, when you create a really nice opportunity, turn it over and sometimes  we'd turn it over and the Reds just started galloping away and then we were able to come back into it, refocus, (That) was a really pleasing aspect out of that negative.”

A trim Taqele Naiyaravoro again stood out, with the winger picking up a double, increasing his run of scoring to four consecutive matches, the most in his career

Naiyaravoro is going to England at the end of this season, but for now Gibson is making the most of his incredible form.

“He's continuing to be the difference for us out on that left flank,” he said.

“When we give him the ball in the right moments, with a bit of space, he's finishing well.

“(He was) talked about a lot during the week, he's lost his weight, he's performing. It's a pretty easy equation for me.”

The win left NSW with a big injury toll, with Rob Simmons (sternum), Michael Wells (shoulder) and Will Miller (shoulder) under injury clouds.

The Waratahs take on the Lions at Allianz Stadium on Friday, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.