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By NSW Waratahs Media unit
The NSW Waratahs have fallen short in round eleven of the Vodafone Super Rugby against a relentless Auckland outfit.
NSW Waratahs Head Coach Daryl Gibson agreed that the second half was an accurate display of the team's capabilities.
“Really proud of the fight in the second half, there’s no question”, said Gibson. “When we find ourselves in that situation, this team fights and that a really excellent quality of this team.
“The disappointing aspect is we are giving up those leads in the starts and that is terribly frustrating.
Following the gutsy second half performance, Gibson backs his side to turn things around.
“We are certainly in the fight for it (finals), whether we are worthy of it is up to the next five games and certainly we haven’t given up”, said the Head Coach.
“There’s enough fight in this team to know that we are still in it, and we are going to approach it that way and keep playing that way.”
Despite bagging the bonus point, the Tahs went down swinging 33-40 in what was a textbook game of two halves with NSW scoring 33 points to the Blues’ 16 in the second forty.
The visitors were the first side to get up on the scoreboard, the points coming from the boot of Piers Francis at the four minute mark. A second and a third penalty conversion had the New South Welshman nine points down at the 20 minute mark.
Tries from Blues winger Reiko Ioane and lock Scott Scrafton, plus a penalty conversion from Piers Francis left the NSW Waratahs trailing by 26 points heading into the break.
In just over 60 seconds into the second half, fullback Israel Folau made his way over the line for his 200th Super Rugby point and the Tah’s first try of the night.
After immense amounts of pressure on the Blues’ line once again, featuring a 15+ phase attacking effort, returned hooker Tolu Latu put up a five pointer for the home side in the 57th minute.
Fly-half Bernard Foley was the next to cross the line, quickly converting his own try to bring the score to 19-40 with ten left on the clock.
Dean Mumm was held up over the line as he sought to reduce the gap, which paved the way for replacement utility back Bryce Hegarty to sneak a grubber in behind the defence for Israel Folau to bag a double.
Lock Will Skelton was denied a try just before the siren through a TMO review which saw him lose control of the ball on the way down to grounding it.
Not long after the final hooter sounded Paddy Ryan made amends for Skelton’s dropped ball with a try of his own, with Foley’s conversion bringing the final score to 33-40 in favour of the visitors from Auckland.
Head Coach Daryl Gibson summed up the round eleven performance.
“It certainly shows in the second half, when we get on the front foot and we get good go forward ball and we are disciplined with our ball control… we can be an excellent side.”
The NSW Waratahs now head into their second bye week, and return to the field on Sunday May 21 against the Melbourne Rebels.
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The New South Wales Rugby Union is mourning the loss of former Waratah and Wallaby backrower Denis O’Callaghan, who passed away earlier this week.