Some harsh decisions by South African officials may have contributed to their 23-17 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, yet the Waratahs still left the capital with their pride intact.
“I think the performance of the players tonight was outstanding and sometimes you measure your team’s performance by things other than the scoreboard although other people will only see the scoreboard,” Waratahs coach Chris Hickey said in a post-match interview.
Asked to comment on the controversial decision which saw Pat O’Connor red carded for an alleged head-butt in the 67th minute, he said: “You can make up your own mind about it. Decisions like that need to be accurate because they have a big influence on the game.”
Prior to the sending-off, the “Tahs” looked in control of proceedings and were steadily chipping away at the lead the Bulls built up.
Momentum also seemed to swing in his team’s favour once uncontested scrums became the order of the day.
Hickey, however, felt that his men could have been more accurate in the opening 40 minutes of the match.
“I think that we did have opportunities in the first half, but we turned the ball over in the Bulls 22 on three or four occasions and against a team like the Bulls when you get that field position you have to build pressure and we failed to do that.”
“We didn’t take those opportunities in the first half and in the second half we also turned over possession in their 22 which led to a length of the field try.”
Waratahs skipper Dean Mumm was also impressed at how they managed to match the defending champions when it came to the physical side.
“Certainly the effort wasn’t lacking and I’m proud of the boys on that front,” Mumm said.
“Things didn’t always go our way injury-wise and everyone that came on the field stepped-up as well.
“Before the match Chris said that [physicality] is an aspect that we will have to improve to nail big games like that in this tournament.”
With the loss, the Waratahs have slipped from a position where they were in control of their fate to now having to rely on the outcome of other results. – Sapa