Waratahs are yet to peak: Dave Dennis
July 18, 2014
The Waratahs recorded a record victory over Queensland Reds despite a malfunctioning set-piece © Getty Images
New South Wales Waratahs have set numerous Super Rugby records in claiming the Super Rugby minor premiership for the first time, but injured captain Dave Dennis believes they are yet to peak in backing his team-mates to secure their maiden championship with the longest winning streak since the great Crusaders of 2002.
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The Crusaders, coached by Robbie Deans and laden with All Blacks including Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall, Richie McCaw and Reuben Thorne, completed an unbeaten 13-game campaign 12 years ago. To claim this year's title, the Waratahs will need to parlay their club-record seven-game winning streak into nine matches unbeaten and, perhaps, defeat the Crusaders in a blockbuster grand final at ANZ Stadium on August 2.
Dennis has no doubts they will do so, believing the Waratahs will find an extra gear despite having already notched countless milestones during their dominant run to the finals.
The free-running Waratahs have scored the most points of any team in 2014, conceded the fewest, racked up nine try-scoring bonus-points, and lead the competition for tries, line breaks, run metres, offloads and tackle busts. And in first Bernard Foley and Israel Folau, the Waratahs also possess the competition's leading points-scorer and top try-scorer. And they enter the finals fresh off their biggest win over Queensland Reds - when Folau didn't play.
Dennis, though, says the Waratahs are yet to hit their straps.
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"I honestly feel as though we've won games in that seven-game [winning] period where we haven't been at our best," he said. "No disrespect to the teams we've played, but we haven't played that complete game yet. Last week we won by 30 points, but our set-piece was down. The week before against the Highlanders, we won convincingly but there were elements of our game that were down."
Dennis is out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery, but he remains heavily involved and has noticed a steely edge to his team-mates ahead of their sudden-death semi-final on Saturday week.
"Yesterday we went to Centennial Park and were running hills. There are just these little indicators within the group that are telling me that the boys are still motivated to improve as a team. The reality is, we're going to have to if we want to win nine straight."