“I was super surprised, usually…I’ve been on losing sides and Cancers have come in,” Coleman said.
“I noticed it especially when I had my one-on-one conversations with every player for an hour and pushed a little bit on that, set a few traps, ‘Who was pissing you off? Who was getting on your nerves? Who don’t you rate?’ That kind of stuff. But man, they’re rock solid. They’re a good bunch of boys who really rate each other.
Unity is only part of the puzzle though, and without ability it’s almost useless.
Satisfaction within the Waratah camp on Friday was therefore as much about the constituent elements of their victory over the Drua as the whole.
Fiji are inexperienced but proved against Melbourne in trials that they have the talent to score tries and threaten, if they roll. So NSW set their sights on playing in Fiji’s half, racking up the points and, with dominance up front, pushing the Drua further and further away from an upset. And that’s how it happened.
NSW scored two tries in the first half and three more in the second. Ben Donaldson collected 15 points on the boot. It was no postcard win for the Waratahs, and on what was a historic night for Fiji rugby, the greatest flair on display came in Bole’s pre-match battle cry.
Reflecting a philosophical shift seen above with Dave Rennie, NSW demoted and did what was necessary to win.
The Tahs tried to attack everyone in 2021. In their first game of 2022, Coleman’s side shut down the potential for a Fijian touchdown game before one was even close to bursting .
“I would like to think that we will become a team – as our game model grows and we improve – I want us to be a ball-moving and entertaining team, so there have been some nice tries. in there,” Coleman said.
“But probably nicer were the ones where we ground them. Won a penalty, went to the corner, mauled or the first down where there was a sneaky pick and drive near the posts. It’s just that pressure, because when you’re in the A zone, it doesn’t matter how you score, you just score them.
“I tell the boys that you don’t have to be perfect to win. You don’t need to win all the battles to win the war, you just need to win most of them.
Fiji’s inexperience showed in nervous handling and wobbly set pieces, and they will improve quickly. But NSW would still be wise not to assess their progress until they meet the Reds at Leichhardt Oval on Friday.
However, one improvement already stands out – defense. The NSW defense has been dreadful in 2021, conceding on average nearly six tries per game in Super Rugby AU and Trans-Tasman. Kiwi teams have run in 40 tries in five games.
This year? In two tries and a competitive match, the Tahs have seen their line crossed only four times.
Gordon highlighted NSW’s dogged defense late in Fiji’s victory as fatigue began to creep in and no one would have batted an eyelid had the Drua burst in for a second try.
“There are teams that would turn around in that last five minutes and give them that try, but to see us fight and hold them off and not give them another try was really nice,” Gordon said.
Coleman paid tribute to defense coach Gilmore.
“He’s a world-class defensive coach, and on top of the commitment, the boys have clarity. The boys know where they’re coming out of the different phases and what they need to do,” he said. declared.
“You put the technical knowledge of Gilly and the heart of the boys into it…and we showed it at the end.”
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