AUDIO: Gibson predicts Waratahs 'overhaul'
REACTION: No one would be more pleased to bid farewell to the 2019 Super Rugby season than Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson.
The Waratahs’ slim hopes of making the play-offs were dead and buried all within the first 40 minutes of their final round-robin fixtures against the Highlanders at Rugby Park on Friday.
From the kick-off, the New South Wales team were under pressure as they found themselves 0-21 down after just 20 minutes of play.
They struggled to combat the Highlanders’ intense attack and conceded six tries – handing the New Zealanders a 42-7 lead at the break.
NSW readjusted their defence and fought hard in the second half. They conceded just one try and managed to add to their try tally thanks to flyhalf Mack Mason.
However, without Wallabies stars, Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale, any chance of a comeback was simply non-existent.
In the end, Gibson’s troops suffered a 12-49 demolition to the Highlanders, who keep their finals hopes alive.
“The damage was done in the first half with 42-7. We started the game well, but our skill errors let them into our area and they capitalised,” Waratahs coach Gibson told reporters after the match.
“We’re proud they stuck at it and we went close to winning the second-half. We’re pleased we hung in there but overall disappointed to lose by such a margin,”
The defeat not only continues Waratahs’ nine-game losing streak in New Zealand but also compounds one of their darkest seasons in history.
The Australian franchise had to deal with the mid-season departure of their best player Israel Folau over his controversial social media post, and Tolu Latu’s drunk driving charge – just a few of many off-field distractions.
Adding to their list of problems, the New South Wales team are losing loads of experienced players with Sekope Kepu, Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona already on their way to London Irish next year.
While, it has been reported that the futures of Wallabies stars Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Karmichael Hunt are still unclear beyond 2019.
Nonetheless, Gibson, not revealing much, remains positive as he looks to give promising youngsters a shot next year.
“We are in negotiations with a number of our players,” the coach said, adding: “A number of players have already indicated that they are leaving.
“However, we do have an excellent young crop of NSW stars coming through for the next couple of years,” he added.