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'It's crucial to win': The season-defining implications of Waratahs vs Force match

By AAP
(Photos / Getty Images)

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It’s crunch time for the NSW Waratahs and Western Force as they battle to keep pace with Australia’s Super Rugby Pacific heavyweights and remain in the 2022 finals race.

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It’s only early days but, with both sides on 1-2 season records, the losers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday will fall further behind last year’s Super Rugby AU grand finalists the Brumbies and Queensland Reds and be very much playing catch-up in the weeks ahead.

“We’ve got sights on the top eight, as do the Force. We all understand the back half of the year against the Kiwi sides that wins are going to be hard to come by,” Waratahs coach Darren Coleman said on Saturday.

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“So this is almost a double-point game. It gives us a two-and-two season and it keeps them to one and three so it’s crucial to win tomorrow.”

Force coach Tim Sampson isn’t playing down the significance of getting a result on Sunday, either.

“It’s hugely important,” Sampson said. “You don’t want back-to-back losses.

“We’ve got two games on the bounce now in Sydney. We’ve handled travel and away games well in the past, and we’re going to continue to do that.

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“You back the guys. We go in with a lot of confidence.”

Rain, hail or shine after Sydney’s big wet, the Waratahs are committed to playing attacking rugby, believing it’s in their DNA.

“It would be good to have a dry track,” Coleman said.

“Yesterday was the first dry practise we’ve had in two and a half weeks but it sort of suited our style.

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“We’re excited for a dry one, to play some good expansive rugby.

“I wouldn’t say we’re executing at a high level yet but we’re definitely moving the ball.

“We definitely want to get better at that aspect but it is part of our team. We want to be a ball-moving team but it doesn’t mean we have to be reckless or do it to entertain.

“It is a good by-product but we’re more doing it because with the team we have and the s kill set we have if we move the ball around with pass ing we can cause trouble to teams.”

The Tahs are expecting a free-flowing approach from the Force, too.

“They’re a bit like us with their ball movement and intent to play an entertaining and open spectacle,” Coleman said.

“So it’s probably going to be punch for punch. We need to throw punches and be aware that they’re going to throw punches.”

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