Hickey eyes top four finish - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hickey eyes top four finish

Adrian Warren 25/05/2011 12:39:34 PM Comments (0)

NSW Waratahs coach Chris Hickey believes his team can target fourth spot on the Super Rugby table if they win their next two games in South Africa against close ladder rivals the Sharks and Bulls.

With four rounds remaining, the Waratahs are fifth in the standings on 45 points, just two ahead of both the Highlanders and Sharks.

NSW would appear to have little chance of a top three spot, as they are nine points behind Australian conference and overall ladder leaders Queensland, who host the fourth-placed Crusaders (48) in Brisbane on Sunday.

A Reds win combined with a NSW win over the Sharks in Durban a few hours earlier could lift the Waratahs up to fourth.

The Waratahs' following game is in Pretoria against the defending champion Bulls, the only other realistic contenders for a finals berth, who are currently eighth on 40 points.

"If we can pick up both those games I think even a fourth place is not out of the question," Hickey said.

"But one game at a time, so we'll just keep our focus on the Sharks and do our best to come away with a win that just puts us a little bit further away from them.

"This is one of those games I think that's pivotal to both teams.

"The Sharks coming off a loss (to the Bulls) last week will be a little bit sharper I'm sure and being so close on the ladder, the outcome will be a very important four or five points for both teams.

"The Bulls and the Sharks still have to play each other in the last round as well, so like most years, it could come down to the results over that last round."

With five-eighth Berrick Barnes cleared to play against the Sharks after suffering a third head knock in the current campaign, Hickey reported no injury concerns following last week's win over the Lions.

"This is probably about the first week I think that we haven't had someone that's been ruled out of the game," Hickey said.

The Sharks will be without winger Odwa Ndungane and prop Jannie du Plessis while centre Adrian Jacobs will undergo a fitness test on an ankle.

On the plus side, front row stalwart John Smit and No.8 Ryan Kankowski could both return from injury.

The Waratahs boast the meanest defence in the competition and Hickey expected that quality to be tested by the Sharks' attack.

"They are a strong attacking side and against them it's particularly important to be able to control possession from the start and then to play at the tempo we want to play," Hickey said.

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