Super Rugby
Phipps and Foley the Waratahs' main men
May 5, 2014
The Waratahs' Nick Phipps beats the tackle of Cory Jane, New South Wales Waratahs v Hurricanes, Super Rugby, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, May 3, 2014
Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley have earned praise from coach Michael Cheika after the Waratahs huge win over the Hurricanes © Getty Images

Despite the presence of Wallabies superstars Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps are fast becoming the Waratahs' main men as the countdown begins to the Super Rugby finals. The unsung halves pairing look key to NSW's title hopes after coach Michael Cheika lauded their coming-of-age showings in Saturday night's season-saving comeback win over the Hurricanes.

With the Waratahs down 24-7 midway through the first half and facing the grim prospect of plummeting out of the top six with a points-less bye to come this weekend, Phipps and Foley turned the match around. The pair orchestrated four tries to put the Waratahs back on track in fourth place with a 39-30 bonus-point win. Cheika says Foley (24) and Phipps (25) have finally taken ownership of the Waratahs' star-studded line-up.

"Foley and Phipps are still very young by age but they also maybe haven't been handed the idea that they're looking after the team for everyone else as well," he said. "I think both of the lads took a step up in maturity around not just looking after their own game, but looking after the other lads as well in relation to the way they set up the team."

Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps lead an inspirational come back for the Waratahs against the Hurricanes (Video available in Australia only)
Cheika was also full of praise for Beale. But with Phipps controlling proceedings from scrum-half and fly-half Foley directing and contributing 19 points from a try, four conversions and two penalties, the Waratahs remain on course for an all-important top-two finish to the regular season.

"We've got an ambition which we set out from the start - a goal - and we're still a chance to achieve that goal with six games to go," Cheika said. Foley said there was no need to panic even when the Waratahs trailed by 17 points.

"Because it was so early on and they scored back-to-back tries, we just had to stick to our structures," he said. "We knew if we could just play our game consistently, just chipping away, that we could get back in the game."

Foley admitted squaring off against a potential All Blacks halves pairing in Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara provided added motivation.

"Every week you want to come out and outplay your opposite and their nine and 10 are quality players," he said. "And the Hurricanes have been the form side over the last four or five weeks, winning four in a row. For us to come out and show our intent and capitalise on what the forwards were able to do was pleasing."

After the bye, the Waratahs host the 12th-placed Lions and then play the 11th-placed Rebels in Melbourne. "We've got a three-game stint where we can really set up our season," Foley said.


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