Waratahs happy with lucky derby escape

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs were breathing a sigh of relief after escaping with a win over the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday night.

Trailing by nine points midway through the second half, the Waratahs turned the tables on the Rebels to steal a win and maintain the Australian conference lead.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson was happy with the character his side showed after an interrupted preparation, with their backs against the wall for much of the clash.

“Very proud that we hung in the fight in a game that, for large parts of it, we were outplayed,” he said.

“So to come away with a gritty result was very pleasing.”

While the wait over Israel Folau’s judicial hearings this week was well-publicised, Gibson said it was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to a disjointed lead-in.

“We've had a really disruptive week in and behind our preparation,” he said.

“There's a number of things obviously - Curtis (Rona) hasn't trained for two days.

“He's been with his wife, giving birth to a second baby, Israel with his appeals and so forth.

“For us to come away with a day's preparation and come down here and get a result is obviously very pleasing.”

Stand-in skipper Bernard Foley admitted the Waratahs were on the back foot for much of the match, but would take plenty

“We probably got away with one in terms of all night we felt we were receiving,” he said.

“I thought they played really well and were getting pretty good metres through the middle of us, which was disappointing from a defensive point of view.

“For the guys to stick to it, to keep believing and then to win the game like that is very pleasing, when I suppose for the majority of the game we probably were outplayed.”

Though they might be thanking their lucky stars on Friday night, Foley said the result could be a springboard into their first finals campaign since 2016, with home matches against the Sunwolves and Brumbies to come.

“Their forward play really came (at us) and we had a pretty disruptive week in terms of our preparation, we probably only trained one day, but for the guys to stay in the fight and get the win really sets us up for this next two games,” he said.

“We're back home against the Sunwolves and then that's something really exciting for us that we can try and kick on and use the momentum of winning this game and a game you probably don't deserve to win to use that momentum going forward.”