Tahs have lineout woes to fix
July 13, 2014
Reds 3-34 Waratahs (video available in Australia only)
The Waratahs have a fortnight to fix their biggest problem before the Super Rugby finals - a faltering lineout. NSW coach Michael Cheika admitted the wonky set-piece was terrible after losing five of their first-half throws and several more after half-time in their 34-3 final round thumping of the Queensland Reds.
Although the Reds have won just five games in a season to forget, their lineout exposed the chink in the minor premiers' armour on Saturday night. Cheika credited Queensland's defensive pressure but also admitted the calling of Stephen Hoiles was off in his third game standing in for injured skipper Dave Dennis.
He was confident of fixing the problems in the two weeks they have before the July 26 semi-final at Allianz Stadium.
The Tahs had much to celebrate in their record breaking win © Getty Images
"That was our smokescreen tonight," Chieka joked. "We were showing all the other teams how bad we are at the lineout so we can get good later on. That's my excuse at least ... nah, it was pretty terrible.
"We haven't had a day like that for a while and it was a good reminder because what we have to improve on is everything, even things we are going well at. Everyone is coming now and it's sudden-death now on so everyone is sharpening their pencils and getting their A-game ready and we can't stay where we are. We need to try to keep improving."
But, otherwise, Cheika was well pleased with his team's seventh straight victory to finish on top of the ladder for the first time in Super Rugby history. Already without Israel Folau (cork thigh), NSW overcame the pre-game loss of ill winger Rob Horne, who was replaced by Jono Lance in a backline reshuffle.
Kurtley Beale showed his class against the injury-ravaged Reds backline, scoring two tries and setting up another in the four-try thumping.
"We weren't brilliant but we worked really hard and we were physical in the first half in particular with some really big hits," Cheika said. "And when our opportunities came we used our skills and we took them, and I like that attitude."