Coach rues sloppy display from Waratahs
April 26, 2014
The Blues proved too strong for New South Wales in Auckland (Australia only)
Rueful coach Michael Cheika chastised his sloppy NSW Waratahs after an error-riddled 21-13 Super Rugby loss to the Blues handed the Brumbies a handy buffer atop the Australian conference.
The Waratahs committed a whopping 16 handling errors and will leave Auckland empty-handed yet again despite their up-tempo and enterprising style producing countless try-scoring chances on Friday night.
Flanker Jacques Potgeiter crossed for NSW's only try midway through the second half after winger Rob Horne was twice denied by the video referee and other promising attacking raids broke down with loose carries or pushed passes.
"Maybe they think they're the Harlem Globetrotters, I don't know," Cheika said.
"He wasn't too happy, but he didn't really need to say anything because we were all more disappointed," added half-back Nick Phipps after admitting the Waratahs had been their own worst enemies. "It's especially disappointing because we gave ourselves every opportunity to win that and we didn't. We left a lot of points out there so it was pretty frustrating across the whole board."
Despite the ghastly error count, the Waratahs outside backs - Horne, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale - looked dangerous throughout and prised the Blues defence open on numerous occasions.
"But the ball handling really let us down," Phipps said. "More so people trying too hard. Us getting those opportunities down the edges and just throwing a 15 per cent offload. If it comes off, it looks great. But if it doesn't, like it does most of the time, it's a turnover. Obviously we've got to tighten that up in the next week before we play the Hurricanes or they'll make us pay even more."
Tries either side of half-time to winger Lolagi Visinia and centre Francis Saili and 11 points off the boot of five-eighth Simon Hickey were enough to earn the Blues their eighth win from nine Super Rugby clashes with the Waratahs at Eden Park. After languishing at the bottom of the New Zealand conference entering the match, the Blues revived their finals hopes with victory, while the Waratahs are now in danger of falling outside the top six.
The Brumbies' 41-23 dispatch of the defending champion Chiefs in Canberra later on Friday night gave the ACT outfit a six-point advantage over the Waratahs. Phipps, though, said one loose display wouldn't discourage the Waratahs from persisting with their attack-minded approach.
"Our backline was going forward and making a lot of breaks. It was really good to see," he said. "Moving forward, if we can just hold onto the ball. Often when we're making those breaks, if we can string two more phases together, we're going to score anyway. That will be pretty well highlighted in the meetings during the week and we're going to have a good hard look at ourselves."