JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Foley points finger at skills as Tahs crash again

Date

Josh Rakic

HIGHLANDERS 18 WARATAHS 17

Stretchered off ... Pat McCutcheon of the Waratahs suffers a serious knee injury after scoring a try.

Stretchered off ... Pat McCutcheon of the Waratahs suffers a serious knee injury after scoring a try. Photo: Getty Images

WARATAHS coach Michael Foley says poor execution and not lack of effort is what led to the NSW side's second loss from three matches this season.

MATCH STATS

''Both teams were out on their feet at the end of the game and we put a lot of pressure on them, but there were key times where we weren't able to execute how we would have liked,'' Foley said after last night's loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Rob Horne of the Waratahs is tackled by Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders.

Rob Horne of the Waratahs is tackled by Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders. Photo: Getty Images

''And they're the things we've got to work on. To create the pressure we created, that takes a lot of guts and a lot of character, but we were just down on execution and than meant while we created momentum we weren't able to finish it off.''

The game might well have been sheltered from the torrid Dunedin weather at the roofed Forsyth Barr Stadium but for fans there was no respite from an average game of rugby. Both sides continually kicked away possession from inside there own half.

Ironically, however, it was the boot of Daniel Halangahu that kept the Waratahs in the match. He scored 12 of the Waratahs' 17 points from penalty goals.

Aaron Smith of the Highlanders scores his team's only try.

Aaron Smith of the Highlanders scores his team's only try. Photo: Getty Images

The Tahs' only try came through a charge-down by breakaway Pat McCutcheon in a match that became more a battle of patience and fitness than skill. Foley commended his team's effort and defended kicking away possession late in the match on several occasions.

''We had the ball inside our 22 a few times late in the game but they had a pretty good wall of defence, and I think a couple of those kicks set up the opportunity for us to have a scrum where we still had an opportunity to win the game,'' Foley said. ''I don't think kicking was the issue - the execution around the set-piece and on attacking plays probably let us down at time. We got momentum a lot of the times without the ball and that probably took its toll late in the game.''

The Highlanders were all-powerful at the breakdown and left the visitors with slow ball, if it all.

Lopeti Timani of the Waratahs is tackled by Josh Bekhuis of the Highlanders. Click for more photos

Waratahs lose thriller to Highlanders

Waratahs go down by the narrowest margin to the Highlanders in a bruising encounter. Photo: Getty Images

But it wasn't the plethora of Wallabies and All Blacks on the pitch that stood out, but referee Bryce Lawrence who took centre stage. He blew the pea from the whistle in a match that featured almost as many penalties as points on the scoreboard.

The Waratahs could not take a trick from Lawrence, copping seven penalties in the first half and 13 of a total of 22 by the end of the match. Even this scribe's Kiwi counterparts were bewildered by the Dummy's Guide to Rugby Laws rhetoric as he lectured players on both sides at every opportunity. His refereeing made for a stop-start game duller than the weather outside.

Foley refused to pass comment on Lawrence's performance.

''I think referees call it as they see it. There is a real attention to detail at the breakdown at the moment, which makes their lives really difficult. They are almost being compelled to make decisions at times.

'' I think in an attempt to keep the game open, the level of detail in which they are looking to scrutinise can be very, very challenging.

''I don't have any criticism of the referee but there are probably times where things are being seen in the spur of the moment that are very difficult for the referee to determine exactly what has happened, and they are compelled to make a call.

''People are challenging each other in that area more and more and there are some obvious things that need to be penalised and there are some other things that maybe aren't as clear cut. The referee tonight wasn't the factor. The Highlanders were just better at keeping on the pressure at key times.''

In the first half alone, an ill-disciplined and at times unlucky Waratahs outfit were forced to make three times as many tackles as their rivals, with the tally finishing on 75 to 26. Their lineouts were penalised twice and they coughed up the ball at another.

In the end it was the Highlanders' two tries to the Waratahs' one that sealed the match, Aaron Smith and John Hardie doing the honours. Colin Slade took care of kicking duties.

Returned playmaker Berrick Barnes barely saw the ball.

HIGHLANDERS 18 (John Hardie, Aaron Smith tries Colin Slade con 2 pens) bt NSW WARATAHS 17 (Patrick McCutcheon try Daniel Halangahu 4 pens) at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Referee: Bryce Lawrence.

Related Coverage

Live: Highlanders v NSW Waratahs

The Highlanders dominate the match statistics but just scrape the win against a spirited Waratahs team. One of the toughest encounters of the season.

Rob Horne. Waratahs lose thriller to Highlanders

Waratahs go down by the narrowest margin to the Highlanders in a bruising encounter.

Damage control: injuries a concern early on in season

THREE rounds into the season and the Waratahs have plunged deeper into injury crisis with breakaway Pat McCutcheon's season in doubt after suffering a severe ankle injury last night.

After House of Pain, Tahs realise some gain

Australian Rugby's Super Saturday taught us that covered stadiums are the way to go, referees have too much of a say in outcomes, the Waratahs are the Hard-luck Hals of the competition, the Rebels do know how to tackle and being at the Brumbies doesn't have to be a jail sentence.

Related Coverage

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

Follow Us on Facebook

HuffPost Australia

Featured advertisers