‘Next year we will be a better outfit’: Waratahs crashes out of final

“Everyone is proud of our season, considering how far we’ve come. We’re really clear and aware of where we want to go and how we’re going to get there next year. We are at base camp and we want to go to Mount Everest next year.”

Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon echoed his coach’s views, despite admitting that NSW was outclassed in most aspects of the result of five attempts to two.

“They really punished our mistakes,” Gordon said. “We had a few chances in the 22 in that game and we weren’t good enough. They really are a quality team and when they turn the ball around they make you pay.

“Last year was a difficult year for the franchise and the team. To bounce back like we have, we still have a lot of growth in us. Next year we will have a better outfit.”

The moment of the match was undoubtedly Will Harris’s superb attempt on the 65m in the second half that left the young NSW No.8 gasping for breath and breathed new life into his team.

Ultimately, the Brumbies’ misstep against Moana Pasifika last week made the Waratahs’ task to stay in the league an uphill battle.

Alex Nankivell tries to punch a hole in the Waratahs’ defence.Credit:Getty

The scars of a scoreless 2021 season are no longer visible. NSW has restored credibility despite a disappointing outing in the pressure cooker environment of rugby with sudden death.

Waratah’s No.10 Tane Edmed was bad off the kicking tee, missing three tries with eight points left out at the park. It may not have mattered in the end.

“It’s all part of it,” Coleman said. “Tane was not up to his usual standards. He is determined and will get better.”

Coleman is a relaxed character but some of the decision making and inaccuracies on his part left Hamilton feeling very dissatisfied despite an excellent first season at the helm.

“Their power play is pretty impressive,” Coleman said. “It’s definitely bigger bodies running harder and faster. There’s not a lot of science in it. We have to try to get bigger, faster and stronger. They won a lot of collisions in the first half. That gave them the edge. We just weren’t good.” enough to seize our opportunities.”

The Chiefs scored an early penalty before cunning halfback Weber helped his side streak to a 10-0 lead within seven minutes by scoring under the posts.

A sensational attempt in response from Dylan Pietsch restored morale and calmed the visitors.

On the back of a protruding forefoot ball, Tahs No.10 Ben Donaldson put in an inch-perfect grubber kick that Pietsch picked up for arguably the best effort of the season for the Waratahs. That was until Harris’ solo effort.

Edmed scored after 19 minutes at 10-10 before Luke Jacobson cut through a driving maul to give the Chiefs the upper hand in a very physical match where the battle for breakdown supremacy was fierce.

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Edmed’s two missed penalties in the first half were costly, however, as the Chiefs came in front again, thanks to Alex Nankivell after a horror moment at the end of the Waratahs.

With a desire to hit their half, Edmed threw a quirky pass that both fiddled with Donaldson and Mark Nawaqanitawase before Nankivell stepped through and gathered again.

It was a massive coach-killer that led Chiefs No.12 Quinn Tupaea to knock Donaldson on the head.

Donaldson pushed Tupaea after the arrogant and unnecessary gesture that the Waratahs will not soon forget.

Harris’ long-range stunner narrowed the margin to 12 points before Weber ducked forward again and Pita Gus Sowakula dug in from close range.

“I don’t know if we could have won it, but we have a chance of being lost at the end of that game,” Coleman said. “We need to get better at performing.”

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