Super Rugby
Hooper happy to revel in victory
ESPN Staff
July 26, 2014
Michael Hooper and Kurtley Beale tackle Christian Leali'ifano, New South Wales Waratahs v Brumbies, Super Rugby semi-final, Allianz Stadium, July 26, 2014
Michael Hooper (l) led from the front for the Waratahs © Getty Images

New South Wales Waratahs captain Michael Hooper wasn't ready to think about the Crusaders immediately after leading his side to the Super Rugby decider on Saturday night.

The flanker preferred to let the 26-8 victory over the Brumbies soak in, despite being all too aware of the Crusaders' domination in crushing the Sharks 38-6 in Christchurch earlier on Saturday.

"I think we're enjoying tonight first of all. Enjoying the fact that we beat a quality outfit in the Brumbies, a tough outfit, and did it in a physical fashion," Hooper told The Sydney Morning Herald. "On Monday I think we'll start looking at that, looking at what the Crusaders did, and looking at what we didn't do well enough."

Hooper had enormous game, particularly in defence, as the Waratahs held off everything the Brumbies could throw at them. Although still far from perfect, the Waratahs' set-piece was vastly better than what they produced in recent weeks.

Waratahs 28-6 Brumbies (Australia only)

"I was really proud of the guys. Set piece was really difficult at the start, but to go back to the drawing board and then start getting ascendancy there is really pleasing," Hooper said. "Easily you can fall back and start getting negative in those situations, but we started to turn that around and turn it into an attacking option, and relieved the pressure through maul defence and turning it into scrum. I was really happy with the tight five, particularly, in turning that around."

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika praised his side's work ethic and insisted he would not get carried away thinking about their next opponent.

"I think so. Physicality was pretty big. They put a lot of pressure on us," Cheika said. "We knew that would happen and we just wanted to keep coming. If we kept coming, you know you can't attack rucks that hard the whole game, eventually a few cracks have to appear. The last time when we played the Brumbies in Sydney [the Waratahs won 39-8 at ANZ Stadium], I wasn't as happy with the physicality we delivered, but tonight I was."

"If you start worrying about them [Crusaders], we'll be worrying about a million things," he said. "They've got so many strong points; strong set piece; defensive line out. They can kick if they want to kick to you - with [Ellis, Slade, Carter, Dagg] - and they can run when they want to go wide with Nadolo and all those guys. I think we'll just focus on what we're doing and see if it's good enough."

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