Dour Waratahs urge fans to keep faith - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dour Waratahs urge fans to keep faith

By Darren Walton 07/03/2010 06:56:37 PM Comments (0)

The NSW Waratahs have pleaded with their dwindling fan base to keep the faith after the Super 14's ugly ducklings opened their 2010 home campaign in typically dour fashion.

Promising to win back support with a return to the glory days and nights of running rugby at the SFS, the Waratahs instead squeezed out a lacklustre 25-21 victory over the seething Sharks on Saturday night.

After enduring more jeers from the 20,651 uninspired fans who sat through their side's first home game of the season, NSW coach Chris Hickey and captain Phil Waugh both defended NSW's all-too-familiar safety-first tactics.

Hickey said victory, however grimly it may have been achieved, was paramount after the Tahs' one-from-three start to the season, while Waugh insisted his troops were ever mindful of their responsibility to deliver entertaining rugby to their loyal supporters.

"Sometimes you have to grind out a win," Hickey said.

"We've got a way of playing that we're developing that we think is effective if we stick to it.

"So we just need to be sure that we stick to our strategies."

Waugh likened the humid conditions to sticky Durban and said they contributed to NSW's sloppy performance.

"We tried to play," Waugh said.

"The endeavour was to play.

"We certainly had the intention to play and hold onto the ball.

"I felt like when we did do that, and we were actually patient and didn't push the passes, we got a little bit of pay for it.

"We wanted to play up tempo, we wanted to run the ball and create a spectacle. We wanted to run the Sharks around.

"At times, perhaps our skill execution let us down a little bit and that probably contributed to not the greatest spectacle.

"But I think it's important to recognise that the Sharks outfit are a very good outfit.

"They've got numerous Springboks in the team and they've got 15 guys in the opposition team trying to win the game like you are.

"So it was a pretty intense game. Certainly the physicality in the game was right up there."

With three more home games in the next month, including the Lions on Saturday night, NSW have a prime opportunity to push their way up the ladder from 10th after four rounds.

And, thankfully for the fans, Hickey indicated the Waratahs may be forced into retaining possession - and not kicking it away - against the free-running Lions.

"From what I've seen, they're quite a dangerous team if you give them the chance to play," Hickey said.

"So the way the law interpretations have impacted on the game means you need to be able to control possession.

"So, against a team like the Lions, they can only play the way they want to play if you give them the ball."

The Waratahs were hugely relieved on Sunday after Tatafu Polota-Nau, plus the rest of his teammates, received a clean bill of health after the powerhouse hooker hobbled off late against the Sharks with what was feared to be a recurrence of a troublesome hamstring injury.

Polota-Nau produced a barnstorming man-of-the-match display on Saturday and with fellow Wallabies hooker Adam Freier still sidelined following back surgery, the Tahs need the big unit on deck against the Lions.

"His game speaks for itself - the try he scored, the tackles he makes are really valuable to us," Hickey said.

"His hamstring appears to be fine. He was cramping in the calf muscles. That was more the issue at the end that was stopping him from running."

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