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Waratahs buoyed by wins against NZ teams

Waratahs playmaker Tane Edmed says their recent taste of beating Kiwi teams has “humanised” their trans-Tasman rivals ahead of their sudden-death Super Rugby Pacific final against the Chiefs on Saturday.

In last year’s competition, the New Zealanders lorded it over the Australian sides who only managed two wins from 25 games.

This season hasn’t been quite so one-sided with the five teams winning seven, including two by the Tahs with victory over the Crusaders and their first win in Dunedin in 14 years.

Edmed says his team will head to Hamilton for the quarter-final confident they can match the Chiefs.

The home side is expected to be without their co-captain, All Blacks flanker Sam Cane, who is still battling a knee injury.

“It humanises the Kiwis a little bit, we know that we can beat them over there,” said Edmed, who announced a two-year contract extension on Tuesday.

“And then we’ve come so close against the Canes and the Blues as well and we know that they’re definitely beatable, so we go over there with a lot more confidence.

“But again, they’re really strong so we’re going to have to be on our game this week.”

The teams squared off in Super Round in Melbourne last round, with the Chiefs 51-27 victors but the Waratahs felt it wasn’t a true measure of their worth.

The opening 20 minutes was a horror show with NSW prop Angus Bell sent off followed by centre Jamie Roberts with a yellow card.

They also lost fullback Will Harrison to a season-ending knee injury, while hooker Dave Porecki and his back-up Tom Horton suffered head knocks which meant uncontested scrums for the final 35 minutes.

Assistant coach Chris Whitaker said disciplinary issues and injuries aside they were still finding their feet as it was their first game against Kiwi opponents with the first half of the competition played against fellow Australian teams.

“That first game against the Chiefs I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect especially after the season we had last year, so there was probably a bit of anxiety and nervousness,” Whitaker said.

“We had some bad luck and fought that fight with one hand tied behind our backs.

“Each game we’ve grown more confidence – you put that Crusaders win in there and to go over there and win against Kiwi teams and gradually that confidence is building.

“Nothing is impossible.”

Whitake said blockbusting centre Izaia Perese, prop Harry Johnson-Holmes and hooker Porecki were still in the mix to travel to New Zealand on Wednesday.

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