The Waratahs have to figure out a way to turn pressure into points, coach Daryl Gibson says, and they’ll have to do it quickly.
A 24-21 loss to the Blues betrayed the statistics that the Waratahs dominated, with NSW having 72 per cent of the territory and most of the possession, but not being able to clinch a win.
They’ll have little margin for error when they head to Christchurch next weekend to take on the Crusaders and Gibson lamented their lack of conversion post-match.
“It’s disappointing to come away with no points off that pressure,” he said.
“I felt we controlled large parts of that game and missed a lot of opportunities there.”
The Waratahs had a chance to snatch it in the final minutes, but a Kurtley Beale cross-field kick went over the fingertips of Israel Folau, ending the game.
Though the decision bemused some spectators, Gibson said there were some mixed messages on-field, questioning a lack of reward from referee Jaco Peyper, with no penalties from the Blues in a long Waratahs’ attacking period.
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“Definitely near the end there, I felt we just lacked a little bit of composure there just to hold the ball for a little bit longer,” he said.
“Maybe the boys got confused that they maybe thought they were on a penalty advantage as opposed to an advantage, but I’m very proud of the team.
“That’s what we coach our boys to do on a penalty advantage, (and if that) kick’s two metres shorter, Israel gets that.
“And of course, near the end, not being able to pick up a penalty, we felt there were a few times there we probably deserved something a little bit more than what we got.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Waratahs, who have little time to dwell on Australia’s 38th-straight loss to New Zealand Super Rugby teams, with Gibson praising the effort of the side.
Moments like Cam Clark’s try-saving tackle on Rieko Ioane showed glimpses of fight the Waratahs have not often had in recent years.
“I thought they showed some really fighting qualities,” he said.
“That effort wasn’t rewarded with our technical execution.
“There’s some really good fighting qualities there that I like.”
Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said the defeat hurt, but they had to ignore the wider Super Rugby tale, as they prepare for another three Kiwi foes.
“It’s a big narrative,” he said.
“We can only control what we’re doing, and the other teams are probably going to say the same thing, but we’ve got another three games against these guys, three good cracks and we’re going to focus week to week and this one hurts.
“It is disappointing, but we’ve got to go again. Every game’s tough. We’re fully aware of that.”
The Waratahs take on the Crusaders next Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.