Chiefs vs Waratahs: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The Waratahs went down to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

What are we talking about after that 39-27 loss?

1. Australian conference race still open

A Waratahs win on Saturday night would have put them two games clear on the top of the Australian Super Rugby conference. As it stands, the Rebels have now closed the gap to just one point at the top of the conference, with the Waratahs unable to take any points from Hamilton. Though NSW’s best has looked better than the rest for most of this season, they’ll need to pull it out a few more times this season.

2. Foley finds freezing point

Bernard Foley’s patchy kicking cost the Waratahs against the Crusaders a fortnight ago, but there were no such yips for the NSW centurion on Saturday. Foley slotted a perfect five-from-five, a tally that kept the Waratahs in the game when the Chiefs began to dial up the pressure.

3. Retallick one of the best

Brodie Retallick was impressive for the Chiefs. Photo: Getty ImagesBrodie Retallick is an understated character but the lock regularly shows why he is so highly-rated in rugby. Retallick was the chief destroyer for much of the clash with the Waratahs, scoring the first Chiefs try but also being a menace in tight, winning three turnovers. It was his work in the ruck that stopped a late chance for the Waratahs and he set the tone in defence as well.

4. Tactical kicking a Tahs killer

It’s been a recurring issue for the Waratahs this season and their misjudged in-field kicking was laid bare for all to see against the Chiefs. Too often, they handed the hosts easy possession and put themselves under pressure. On the other hand, the Chiefs’ Damian McKenzie was on point with his kicks during play, giving the Chiefs time to breathe and gain an advantage.

5. Wilkin gets a win

Brad Wilkin finally made his Super Rugby debut for the Waratahs on Saturday night, and it was a big moment for the whole team. Wilkin has spent two years in rehab after back-to-back ACL injuries but the 23-year-old can finally call himself a Super Rugby player. He didn’t set the world on fire, but simply getting on the field was a big victory for the youngster.