Waratahs coach Michael Cheika praised his side’s fighting spirit following their 31-26 come-from-behind win over the Rebels on Saturday.
The Waratahs notched up a hard-earned victory, overcoming a 6-16 half-time deficit to outscore the Rebels by three tries to two at Allianz Stadium and clinch the Weary Dunlop Shield for the fifth successive time.
Second-half tries from flyhalf Bernard Foley and flank Michael Hooper fired up the side, with a touchdown from replacement prop Paddy Ryan sealing a win in the wet conditions.
“We played at a good standard for a period of time and that got us back in the game,” said Cheika.
“There’s a lot that’s still scratchy in some parts but the general shape, how we want to be seen to be playing as a team, was there and we stuck at it.”
The team progressed in confidence as the match went on, reversing a lack of first-half possession to swing the momentum their way in the second period.
“Every week we’re trying to add a little bit on, trying to go forward, trying not to take any steps backward and just build on that and prove ourselves to ourselves and our fans,” said Cheika.
The victory saw the Waratahs snap a nine-match losing streak and was the first win under new coach Cheika, who’s two matches into his debut Super Rugby season after taking over the reins from Michael Foley.
Having broken the drought, Cheika said the next challenge was to win back the respect and support of spectators.
“What we have to do is perform and earn the respect of people,” said Cheika. “And then hopefully one guy will talk to the next guy, and the next guy and so on and we’ll earn the right to have a good crowd behind us.
“That’s what we’re really trying to do and not worry about things that are beyond our control.”