Tahs praised for physical performance
June 1, 2014
Waratahs 33-17 Chiefs (video available in Australia only)
Tatafu Polota-Nau lost his two front teeth in the first ten minutes, captain Dave Dennis suffered such a severe cut to his knee coach Michael Cheika described it as the worst he had ever seen and several other players required stitches following the Waratahs 33-17 win over the Chiefs.
But the massive physical toll from the match paid off with the Waratahs netting a drought-breaking win on New Zealand soil while also putting forward a strong case for the Super Rugby title as they sit pretty at the top of the Australian Conference and only two-points behind the ladder leading Sharks.
"There is a lot of satisfaction there, I don't know about the most [satisfying], you never know, but I am very proud of them," Cheika said. "It was a really hard-working effort, they just kept getting back up and there were some guys in a lot of pain and discomfort, and they were comfortable playing in that discomfort zone, which is a good sign for us. But there is still so much to do - we have another massive game coming up after the break."
Dennis lead from the front throughout the match © Getty Images
Sitting in the top two for the second week running, the Waratahs have a achieved their goal with three games in hand, but Cheika won't be getting ahead of himself with the side facing off against the Highlanders and Brumbies at home and a final trip up to Brisbane to face the Reds.
"It is so tight and you can slip from anywhere," he said. "What we've done is put pressure on everyone now to keep performing because the more rounds [you play] with other teams behind you, you're a chance. We're in there but we have big games, two against [top six] competitors [Brumbies and Highlanders] and one against our old enemy [Queensland] away from home, so it's going to be a great three weeks when we get back."
Polota-Nau will require major dental work, while Dennis was taken to hospital for his cut that was so bad you could see his leg tissue, which occurred only minutes before he raced away to score a decisive try seven minutes from the final whistle. Wycliff Palu also required stitches for a wound and Sekope Kepu will be monitored for a knock to his ankle.
"It's two weeks in a row [Dennis] played very well ... he's developing into a very good captain, he leads by example, and he's starting to understand what it is to be a leader and he showed that tonight," Cheika said.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd