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NSW Waratahs concede they must lift at set piece in finals

In the corner: NSW halfback Nick Phipps dives over against the Reds.

In the corner: NSW halfback Nick Phipps dives over against the Reds. Photo: Getty Images

The Waratahs will perform emergency surgery on their lineout and look to lift in every aspect of their game leading into a home semi-final in a fortnight's time. 

After hammering Queensland four tries to none at Suncorp Stadium, NSW coach Michael Cheika was relaxed enough to see the lighter side of his side's set piece woes, joking that five stolen lineouts in the first half "was our smokescreen tonight, showing the other teams how bad we are at the lineout so we can get good later on".  

"It was pretty terrible but we haven't had a day like that for a while and it was a good reminder," Cheika continued.  "What we have to improve on is everything, even things that we're going well at, because everyone's coming now. It's sudden death from now on, so everyone's sharpening their pencils and getting their A-game ready.

Lineout lost: Rob Simmons steals the ball for Queensland against the NSW forwards.

Lineout lost: Rob Simmons steals the ball for Queensland against the NSW forwards. Photo: Getty Images

"We can't stay where we are, we need to try to keep improving over the next 10 days in the lead up to the first match of the finals so we can hopefully be better than the opposition on the night."

The Reds were particularly kind in the face of NSW's frailties up front, failing to convert any of their set piece pressure to points despite a hairy 10 minutes in the Waratahs 22 towards the end of the first half. 

Cheika said he was confident the team's lineout generals, Stephen Hoiles, Dave Dennis and Mitchell Chapman could iron out the kinks in time for their home semi-final. 

"It wasn't just poor play from us, they did well as well," he said. "We tried a few different things tonight in our line out ... and maybe we got some of our calling wrong more than anything."

The Waratahs were strong elsewhere, with inside centre Kurtley Beale leading a typically clinical attacking effort that did not visibly suffer from Israel Folau's absence.  "We weren't brilliant but we worked really hard," Cheika said. "We were physical in the first half with some really good hits, and when our opportunities came we used some good skills and took them."

NSW sit out the coming week's qualifying finals and host a semi-final at Allianz Stadium on July 26. 

7 comments so far

  • The Reds didn't score any tries

    Date and time
    July 13, 2014, 8:21AM
    • "Set piece must lift"....says it about all. Lifting of Skelton is problematic and lack of height from Hooper means there are probably only two lineout targets.
      Getting a full match out of Skelton and Potiger is also an issue (the injury to Dennis is showing how important he is to Tahs) - they can share a locking position but puts big drain on the team.
      So Tahs can be targeted at lineout and stopping the runs of Potiger/TPF will go a long way to beating them.
      The Tahs backline is probably best in final 6 teams (Hurricanes have best in competition) and to be them will take a great game to secure 60% possession and contain said backline.

      Date and time
      July 13, 2014, 8:54AM
      • @ Crusaders.Fan

        Pretty much agree with your comments... funny how everybody nows realizes that the loss of Dennis was a big loss for the Tahs. The lineout has been their achilles heel all season long but I'm sure Cheika is working on band-aid cure as we speak. If not, it was a great season Tahs, but no cigar.
        Good luck to your 'Saders... not that you really need any !

        inner west sydney
        Date and time
        July 13, 2014, 11:41AM
    • Yep Georgina, you are pretty right, with the thought of the super impressive Crusaders that are on the way. The seven times champs are firing on all "fifteen", in their march to the final, and from what I have seen over the last few weeks, they will be there. This team from the "Mainland", of New Zealand, have steadily built throughout the season, just playing what is in front of them,& they do look the goods.

      Date and time
      July 13, 2014, 9:12AM
      • Crusaders "super impressive"? Not really.
        They are dangerous because of their finals experience but, when the Tahs fix their lineout issues, they are better than the Crusaders right across the park.
        Brumbies pose more of a threat to NSW than the Saders, in my opinion. I'm more concerned with a semifinal against the Brums than I am with the thought of playing the Crusaders in the final.
        Waratahs have the edge in coaching also. Cheika's a smarter coach than Blackadder who, much like his playing career, is a journeyman at best.

        Big Dog
        Date and time
        July 13, 2014, 11:44AM
      • @ Muzzo

        Those Highlanders of yours are now pretty much going through the process.... they seem to have lost their mojo. And with having to travel to play the Sharks I think it'll be a task too great.
        Crusaders, as per bloody usual, are just building and building !

        Still you never know as each team is there and what happens on the day will decide who gets the prize. Good luck to all.

        inner west sydney
        Date and time
        July 13, 2014, 11:50AM
      • Muzzo,

        the Crusaders back line can't buy a try despite the ball their piggies win for them. If you put the Canes back line behind Crusaders forward pack you would have some team (and Canes backline looks even better next season!).

        So I expect Crusaders forwards will keep it tight and try to grind out a couple of wins. But I don't think they deserve to win with current backline, and in any case they will need to score 30 points or more to beat Tahs (if they meet).

        Date and time
        July 13, 2014, 1:04PM

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