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Super Rugby Round 20: Waratahs 12-14 Reds
Waratahs eyeing 2014 Super Rugby title
July 14, 2013
The Waratahs' Cam Crawford scores a try against the Reds, New South Wales Waratahs v Queensland Reds, Super Rugby, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, July 13
Cam Crawford capped his successful season with a try against the Reds © Getty Images
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New South Wales Waratahs have already set their sights on landing an elusive first Super Rugby title in 2014 after missing the play-offs for the second successive season.

Their 14-12 home loss to Queensland Reds in the Bob Templeton Cup match at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night left the Waratahs ninth on the Super Rugby ladder with eight wins and eight defeats, two rungs higher than in 2012 having produced twice the amount of wins and led the competition for linebreaks after embracing first-year coach Michael Cheika's ball-in-hand style of play.

The Waratahs' tally of one goal from five attempts against the Reds, from Brendan McKibbin and Berrick Barnes, who missed a match-winning chance in the dying minutes, provided a snapshot of the Waratahs' season of near-misses. One-point losses to the Cheetahs and Crusaders, and two-point defeats by Western Force and Reds, ultimately proved the difference between making the finals and missing out.

"There were games this year we should have won, as simple as that," Dave Dennis said. "We finished with eight wins, a few more than last year, but we still missed out on the finals. So to look at it that way, it's disappointing. But as captain of the team, I've been really proud of the effort that's everyone's put in - all the players, all the staff - and we've got a clear direction about where we want to go. We've laid a base for next season. When we gather later in the year, or whenever that may be, there's a clear understanding of what's expected of each player and how we want to play rugby. So that's positive and we've made great strides in that regard. We've just got to get better at winning matches."

 
"I want to make the finals next year. Of course I do. I'm not a loser." Michael Cheika explains his ambitions for 2014
 

Several players, including Wallabies Barnes and Sitaleki Timani, have played their final match for the Waratahs, but Kurtley Beale looks set to return in 2014 and Dennis said elder statesmen such as Test regulars Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu and Wycliff Palu were intent on winning a maiden Super Rugby title. "They don't want to leave after a 12-year career at the Waratahs without having won a title. That's very important to them. They care about that. Then the new guys, they're sort of jumping on that wave as well. Playing professional footy, you always want to be playing in the finals."

Cheika said: "This might be the end, but it's really just the start. We've got a good launching pad into next season for sure. I believe that we have gone well towards achieving the start of the turnaround that we've been after. We will definitely have bigger ambitions ... I want to make the finals next year. Of course I do. I'm not a loser. I feel we've built a nice little fortress that we can maybe start fighting a few wars from."

With Beale's ill-fated two-season stint with the Rebels over, Cheika hopes to announce the 24-year-old's return to the Waratahs this week. "We want him," Cheika said. The Waratahs are also optimistic about retaining dual international Israel Folau, who proved the revelation of the competition in his first season in rugby.

Queensland Reds scrambled a victory over New South Wales Waratahs (video available only in Australia)

Play-off schedule

Week 1:

Saturday, July 20
(4) Crusaders v (5) Reds
AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand
Kick-off (1935 local, 1735 NSW/ACT, 0935 SAT, 0735 GMT)

Sunday, July 21
(3) Brumbies v (6) Cheetahs
Canberra Stadium, Canberra, Australia
Kick-off (1610 local, 1810 NZT, 0810 SAT, 0610 GMT)

Week 2 - July 26/27:

(2) Bulls v Highest-ranked winner from Week 1
(1) Chiefs v Other winner from Week 1

Week 3 - August 3:
Winner of semi-final with highest ranking v other winning semi-finalist

Super Rugby Table:

Position Team Conference Points
1. Chiefs New Zealand Conference 66
2. Bulls South African Conference 63
3. Brumbies Australian Conference 60
4. Crusaders Wildcard 60
5. Reds Wildcard 58
6. Cheetahs Wildcard 54

Super Rugby Conferences Tables:

Australian
Pos Team P W D L Bye F A PD TF TA TBP LBP Pts
1 Brumbies 16 10 2 4 2 430 295 +135 43 31 5 3 60
2 Reds 16 10 2 4 2 321 296 +25 31 23 4 2 58
3 Waratahs 16 8 0 8 2 411 371 +40 45 34 1 4 45
4 Melbourne Rebels 16 5 0 11 2 382 515 -133 44 65 4 5 37
5 Force 16 4 1 11 2 267 366 -99 26 34 0 5 31


New Zealand
Pos Team P W D L Bye F A PD TF TA TBP LBP Pts
1 Chiefs 16 12 0 4 2 458 364 +94 50 38 8 2 66
2 Crusaders 16 11 0 5 2 446 307 +139 44 31 5 3 60
3 Blues 16 6 0 10 2 347 364 -17 40 36 6 6 44
4 Hurricanes 16 6 0 10 2 386 457 -71 41 49 4 5 41
5 Highlanders 16 3 0 13 2 374 496 -122 40 55 4 5 29


South African
Pos Team P W D L Bye F A PD TF TA TBP LBP Pts
1 Bulls 16 12 0 4 2 448 330 +118 41 34 5 2 63
2 Cheetahs 16 10 0 6 2 382 358 +24 38 32 2 4 54
3 Stormers 16 9 0 7 2 346 292 +54 30 18 1 5 50
4 Sharks 16 8 0 8 2 384 305 +79 40 31 3 5 48
5 Southern Kings 16 3 1 12 2 298 564 -266 27 69 2 0 24

© AAP
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