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Waratahs unfazed by two Kiwi team losses after Crusaders scalp

By AAP
Mark Tele'a of the Blues is tackled during the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Blues at Allianz Stadium, on March 16, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

The NSW Waratahs are headed to Fiji for business, not pleasure, as they look to get their Super Rugby Pacific campaign back on track after successive two-point home defeats to New Zealand opposition.

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Saturday night’s 12-10 loss to the Blues, following a similarly rueful 23-21 defeat to the Highlanders, has left the Waratahs one from four and already behind the eight-ball.

Taking on the Fijian Drua in Lautoka will be hot and hostile, as the defending champion Crusaders discovered in a round-two upset loss.

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But the Waratahs are excited about the opportunity to revive their finals hopes in a potentially season-defining two-game block away against the Drua and Australia’s benchmark Brumbies in Canberra.

Attack

161
Passes
170
121
Ball Carries
126
279m
Post Contact Metres
220m
3
Line Breaks
6

The Tahs have won all four of their previous encounters with the Drua.

“It’s going to be a hostile crowd. The heat, but both teams are going to feel the heat,” Waratahs captain Jake Gordon said.

“We’ve done a really good job against Fiji every time we played them; nullified their threats.

“We went to set-piece quite a lot. We’ve had some really good results against them.

“The risk over there is when the ball gets a little bit wetter, we don’t get looser with it too.

“We go back to playing an aerial game. Go to set-piece. Trying not to play like the Drua in Fiji is really important for us next week.”

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Ruck Speed

0-3 secs
68%
71%
3-6 secs
17%
15%
6+ secs
7%
3%
92
Rucks Won
97

Having said pre-season he hoped a decision around his future could be determined by round four or five, coach Darren Coleman – off contract at the end of the competition – remains unfazed over the increasing uncertainty.

But he doesn’t want his players continually questioned, saying their focus needs to be solely on winning football games.

“The board have been really supportive and we’ve just got to get on with this season,” Coleman said.

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“I don’t need players to talk about my future, or even be worried about it.

“We’re just so focused on turning those two-point losses into wins. What the decision is (about my future) will be the decision.

“I said it two weeks ago, after we won (against the Crusaders); it’s a point we don’t want to talk about anymore.

“I trust the people making the decisions and I’ve got full faith they’ll do what’s right for the organisation, and what they think is best.”

Gordon is confident this year’s Waratahs are superior to the 2023 version and can take the matter out of the board’s hands.

“We’ve got a group that’s really tight. We fight hard,” he said.

“If we focus on improving each week, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.

“We are such a different team to what we were last year. We were getting pumped at points, not even in games.

“We’re a different team at the moment. We just need to be a little bit sharper, especially against a good team.”

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Michael 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

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