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Waratahs put Chiefs on notice as they eye Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final upset

By AAP
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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The NSW Waratahs are preparing to go down with all guns blazing when they take on the Chiefs for a Super Rugby Pacific semi-final berth on Saturday.

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Having already exceeded most people’s expectations under new coach Darren Coleman after last year’s winless season, the Waratahs feel like they have little to lose in the FMG Stadium Waikato clash.

“We set a goal to start at the start of the year to to make the eight and we comfortably made that,” skipper Jake Gordon said on Friday.

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“Then we were aiming for the top four and probably didn’t close out those last few games well enough to make that but we’re in a position now where we think we can beat can compete against the Kiwis.

“We’re not coming out over here to hopefully see if we can when, we’re coming here with a mindset that we’re going to come away with a win.”

Gordon said the Waratahs felt Fijian Drua exposed some chinks in the Chiefs last round, with the New Zealanders scrambling to a one-point victory over the competition debutants.

“They¬†played an interesting game last week against the Fijians. We thought the Fijians played really well and showed a little bit of a blueprint of how we want to play as well,” the Wallabies halfback said.

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“If it’s sunny, we want to get into shape and play really quick footy and we feel like when we do that we play really well.

“But we also know the Chiefs at home are a different beast and¬†they’re going to be very competitive.”

NSW’s 51-27 loss to the Chiefs last month was the Waratahs’ worst result against a Kiwi opponent after they were forced to play with 13 men following a red and yellow card for a time and also lost both hookers to injuries.

But in the four games they have beaten the Crusaders and Highlanders and their biggest losing margin has been four points.

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Since Super Rugby began in 1996, the Waratahs haven’t won an away final in six attempts.

Gordon is one of six current players who were part of the 2018 outfit that raced to a 14-0 lead against the Lions in Johannesburg before being over-run 44-26.

The halfback said there were lessons from that loss, and through the 2022 season, they could take into the quarter-final.

“It’s been a part of this year that we probably haven’t closed out games well enough and even that game in Jo’burg, when they clawed back and put a number of points on us,” Gordon said.

“Starting the game is really important for us and trying to keep the momentum, and also finishing well.”

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