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Halfway there: McKibbin takes plenty from close loss

WARATAHS halfback Brendan McKibbin was delighted to see last year's Super Rugby finalists under pressure and ''blowing'' despite his side's 37-33 loss in Sydney last night.

The 26-year-old, who continued to prove he is worthy of the starting halfback spot with another commanding performance and perfect kicking game against the Crusaders, said the home side's ability to make their opponents fight hard for the win was a good sign for the remainder of the Waratahs' season.

''It was pleasing the amount of effort that was there, that we showed,'' McKibbin said.

''In the first half we probably left a few opportunities out there, left a few points out there, which was a bit disappointing. But we went into the break confident, we could see that they were struggling. We were blowing as well but we really had them under the pump and I thought some decisions that we made to put pressure on them were outstanding.''

Defensive ''slip-ups'' from, among others, centre Tom Carter and replacement winger Atieli Pakalani cost the side. But McKibbin said those errors could be fixed.

''We spread the field pretty well from our defence,'' he said. ''There was a couple of really good things the Crusaders did individually and there were a couple of slip-ups from us as a unit and that's disappointing but the effort was there.''


Pakalani, who scored the Waratahs' first try, and Peter Betham were brought into the starting XV in the absence through suspension of centre Rob Horne and fullback Bernard Foley, who is injured.

McKibbin praised his teammates for hitting the ground running.

''We stuck to policy very well. There was those couple of defensive errors that probably cost us in the end but I thought those guys coming into the side were exceptional.''

McKibbin was a standout performer in the losing side, making two line breaks and several runs when he spotted space. But the Eastern Suburbs halfback said he was profiting off the hard work of his teammates.

''Some of the ball carries there from our forwards were really good, the chat outside me was outstanding and when you have threats both sides of the ruck there's got to be space somewhere and I was lucky enough to spot a couple of holes.''