Missed opportunities weighed Waratahs down

The weight of missed opportunities became too much to turn around for the Waratahs against the Lions on Friday night.

Where in recent weeks, the Waratahs have found their way out of holes, a promising start that yielded no return became a dominant Lions win in Sydney.

Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper couldn’t pinpoint exactly what changed this week, but posited that the lack of scoreboard pressure came back to bite NSW.

“I don’t think it was too different from the way we started the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“Maybe not getting the points there in the first half, that got on top of us in the back end of the game.”

The Waratahs have had concerns about their handling through the season, even after impressive wins, but the Lions really exposed that issue on Saturday night, with dropped balls – forced and unforced- leaving points on the field.

“I think the first 20 minutes we ran our game plan really well, we failed to capitalise on the opportunities we were given, we couldn’t mount any scoreboard pressure,” Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said.

“Things looked a little bit too easy in the second half.

“The Lions really got going in terms of their set piece and their lineout attack, close to the line.”

That set piece dominance allowed the Lions to seize control and force the Waratahs away from their comfort zone, Hooper said.

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“What they were able to do was stick to their game and their plan A that we spoke about in the week and it wore us down,”Hooper  said.

“It wore us down and we probably went away from ours, particularly when they got their second try.

“We just didn’t stick to the game plan, probably allowed them to stay in our area and stay to the things that they’re good at.”

Hooper was satisfied things weren’t as bad as the scoreline appeared, but the zero on their scoreline will not be something Hooper forgets quickly, though.

“It’s burning, (we’ve) got to take those opportunities,” he said.

“They’re top of the conference, (we) weren’t able to keep the pressure on them, they’re going to run away with it so disappointing but we certainly did create opportunities.”

Israel Folau is likely to return to the team for their next match, in a fortnight, against the Blues, while Gibson said he simply hoped backrower Jack Dempsey would be back by the end of the season.

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