Waratahs hunt for answers

2012-04-02 09:06

Sydney - The Waratahs have become their own ''worst enemy'' and must be ruthless in their appraisals if they hope to make it past July.

That was the consensus in the wash-up of the debacle in Hamilton on Saturday when the side all but erased the fruits of a committed and clinical first-half performance with a mind-boggling slide into bad old habits: missed tackles, dropped balls and rattled play.

''I think we definitely need to concentrate more on ourselves because I think we're our own worst enemy,'' hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau said.

''I think we just didn't control the momentum from the second half onwards. We had them under the pump, particularly in the first half, we definitely stuck to our strategy, which was great.

''Then there was a mental lapse in the first 10 minutes [of the second half] … but the Chiefs definitely deserved their win because they took the opportunities and we didn't.''

The Waratahs were left to rue a host of missed chances at Waikato Stadium; their stench followed the squad home to Sydney yesterday and will linger well into this week's bye.

This defeat was not as shattering as the Waratahs' round-four loss to the Force, but it was maddening for all that went before it - a watershed win against the Sharks last week and 40 minutes of good, structured play on Saturday night. For periods in the first half there were tantalising glimpses of the side these men were trying to become.

''We can't get away [from] the fact we're disappointed with that result, but we've got to identify the things we want to keep doing and most importantly the one or two things that undermined us,'' coach Michael Foley said.

''Being in the opposition 22 meant that we did a lot of things right to get there, but five times we didn't convert that to points. Every time they visited our 22 they were patient with the ball, they converted it to points … and to me that's the sign of a side that understands where it's at in the field and where it's at in the game.

''We just didn't understand to make the right decisions to put pressure on that [and] finish it off.''

There were some decent performances but nothing that lasted the 80 minutes. Flyhalf Berrick Barnes did a reasonable job of directing play despite failing to get two restarts over the 10-metre line.

Foley said the shallow kicks were planned moves that misfired but were not the errors that cost the Waratahs the game.

''I think if you're kicking with such a fine margin and you're looking to contest the ball, then from time to time that's going to be a little bit off,'' he said. ''Obviously we want to avoid that but the alternative is to kick deep: you always have the ball in play but you never have the chance to contest it.

''If you look at the results we got out of those kicks and some of the kicks we did last night, I think you'd say it was a worthwhile exercise.

''The last two weeks, whether it was Adam Ashley-Cooper or Dean Mumm running through and putting pressure on, we're likely to get the ball back then.''

Ashley-Cooper was a standout, as was the frontrow. Polota-Nau made a rampaging break down centre field in the final 10 minutes of the first half but was also penalised for foraging in the ruck.

The Waratahs' loose forwards also played well and truly earned their break after playing every game with commitment and physicality. But the side is lacking the mongrel factor of the likes of Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman and Pat McCutcheon. Elsom could come back to play the Force in Perth in round eight but may be rested until the game against the Rebels at Allianz Stadium the following week.

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