Cheika praises Waratahs adaptability

Waratahs head coach Michael Cheika has praised his team’s adaptability after they ended a nine year wait to beat the Bulls in Super Rugby on Saturday.

The Waratahs beat the Bulls 19-12 to secure their first Super Rugby victory over the Pretoria based Super Rugby side in eight matches.

Head Coach Cheika praised his side’s adaptability, as they showed tremendous patience to shut out a second half fight back from a determined Bulls side.

“The boys thought on their feet a fair bit in that second half and got themselves in the situation where they could keep nudging themselves ahead… there was plenty of good hard work going on there and sometimes that’s what you need,” Cheika said.

Despite notching up a win, Cheika cautioned more work had to be done over the remainder of the season.

“What we really want to focus on in the rest of the regular season is to improve the outcome part of our game – really make sure that we’re an improving side and we start to focus on all the little details.”

“It’s no good making opportunities, the key statistic in rugby is the conversion rate, and not just in tries, it’s about converting the opportunities you make to get further down the field, keep the ball and put pressure on the opposition.”

“We’ve got to play our game to stop them playing theirs,” he said.

It took Israel Folau only 28 seconds to announce his return from a four-week injury layoff, when the star fullback latched onto an Adam Ashley-Cooper offload and stepped inside scrumhalf Piet Van Zyl for his ninth try of the season.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley nudged the conversion over from in front and the score was 7-0 in the blink of an eye.

The Tahs enjoyed 80% of possession in the next ten minutes, but when Bulls winger Bjorn Basson was penalised for entering a ruck offside Beale was unable to convert his side’ ascendancy into points.

But flyhalf Bernard Foley made amends minutes later, slotting successive penalty goals to give the Tahs a comfortable 13-point buffer midway through the half.

Despite the home side dominating the stats sheet, the Bulls’ swarming defence kept them in the match, and allowed flyhalf Jacques-Louise Potgieter to kick two penalties in as many minutes to keep his team within striking distance going into halftime.

The Bulls came out of the break with all the momentum but the Tahs held firm, and when Jono Ross was penalised for hands in the ruck Foley added his third penalty goal of the night in the 63rd minute.

The game changed complexion three minutes later, when Bulls’ number eight Grant Hattingh was yellow carded after a high tackle on Michael Hooper. Foley converted the ensuing penalty attempt and his side regained a crucial 10-point buffer.

But commanding defence from a 14-man Bulls outfit shut the Waratahs out of further scoring opportunities and Hattingh took the field again with his side having conceded a solitary penalty goal.

Two further penalties from Potgieter set up a grandstand finish, but Man of the Match Michael Hooper forced a turnover in his own 22, and the Tahs recorded their first win against the Bulls since 2005.

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