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Spirits still high as Waratahs get desperate with season ‘on the line’

By AAP
Joey Walton of the NSW Waratahs is tackled during the round 12 Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies at Allianz Stadium, on May 11, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The NSW Waratahs are clinging to positives as they chase a desperately needed clinical edge to keep their Super Rugby Pacific finals hopes flickering.

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Even the Tahs concede it’s strange that they’re still in the hunt for a top-eight berth despite languishing at the bottom of the ladder with just three rounds remaining.

But it is what it is, they say, and spirits remain high entering a truly must-win derby against the ninth-placed Western Force in Perth on Saturday night.

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“I mean, have a look at us, it wouldn’t matter who we’re up against. We’ve got to pull our fingers out and we’ve got to be up for it,” centre Joey Walton said on Tuesday.

“Everything’s been on the line for the last little bit, but it’s definitely getting to the pointy end now.

“I’m excited for some good conditions, and hopefully if our minds are right we’ll be humming.”

Not for the first time, the Waratahs pulled the deficit back to a point in the second half against the Brumbies last Saturday, only to miss the chance of grabbing a much-needed win in the 29-21 defeat at water-logged Allianz Stadium.

Darren Coleman’s side will head west knowing nothing but a more polished performance will suffice ahead of further must-win battles with Moana Pasifika and the Queensland Reds.

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“We keep getting to within a point and we’re just not finding the moment or something or executing just to win the game,” Walton said.

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“So that’s been pretty frustrating for us.

“We’re creating a lot of opportunities. If we can just execute a bit more, we can score those points and win.”

With prop Harry Johnson-Holmes joining the Waratahs’ depleted front-row stocks with a torn achilles, on-loan Argentine Enrique Pieretto will almost certainly get a start against the equally desperate Force.

“The thing for morale is we get a new guy coming every single day,” Walton said.

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“So, sort of meeting someone new, trying to get them across their playbook, and you don’t really have any time to sort of sit there and complain about it.”

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