Cheika expects teams to follow the Force’s attack blueprint

Michael Cheika is predicting more tight, direct assaults from opposition teams after the Western Force expertly disrupted the Waratahs’ attacking mojo on Sunday.
Nanjing Night Net

Force coach Michael Foley, back in Sydney for the first time since quitting the Waratahs last year, had his team play straight and hard at the Waratahs’ defensive line, slowing down their ball and weakening their impact out wide by sucking in defenders.

The Waratahs ultimately survived the onslaught, notching their second win in a row with the 23-19 result, but Cheika said more teams would look to ape the Force’s strategy to tire and neutralise NSW in attack. ”That is something we’re going to start to encounter because we are putting it out there that we’re going to run and from a lot of situations teams will start to take that approach more and more,” he said.

”We couldn’t get the flow that we needed to dominate the ball, especially from kick-offs. We seemed to lose all type of dominance of the ball after we’d score or they’d score, and then we had to go for long periods without it. They’d try and frustrate us out of it.”

The Waratahs fly to Wellington on Friday for their first away game in three weeks. While the Hurricanes are not afraid to play expansively, Cheika wants the Waratahs to concede less ground in defence.

”You’ve got to get lower than the opposition and say ‘you’re not going any further, stop there’,” he said. ”A lot of times we got low and then they sort of wriggled past us and took another metre, so that brings another guy in and you’ve got to wriggle another metre and go back, and in the end you get shortened up out wide.

”They did it very well so that’s an area you’ve got to get a handle on.”

The Waratahs are building nicely into the season after three confidence-shaking early losses, but Cheika warned there are ”miles” to go on the path to becoming title contenders.

”There’s no finished product coming any time soon,” he said.

”That’s not to say we’re not happy with the way we’re playing … the guys who we want to get the ball are getting the ball and they’re making yards [but] we need to deliver a more consistent platform and be more comfortable to stay on the ball for longer periods of time.”

Foley, meanwhile, was denied a face-saving win over the side he coached, but ultimately left in a storm of controversy at the end of last season.

Refusing to be drawn on how it felt to be back in his old home state, he would only say the Waratahs were ”playing well” and Sydney ”felt like Sydney”.

On field, he was left lamenting his side’s inability to make up a four-point deficit in the final 20 minutes of the game.

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