Horror-Tahs: NSW sink into crisis after embarrassing loss to Kings

The Waratahs are in the midst of a crisis and coach Daryl Gibson says a decision about his future is beyond his control after NSW suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats in the club's history with a 26-24 loss to the Southern Kings in on Friday.

The Kings, who have been Super Rugby's biggest flops in the last two seasons, hit the lead 19-17 in the 68th minute against a Waratahs team littered with international representatives.

The South Africans, who are almost certain to be booted from Super Rugby next year, were then awarded a penalty try, smashing the Waratahs pack time and again to the dismay of NSW fans, who booed their heroes as they packed up and left with minutes remaining.

Questions will now be asked of Gibson and his coaching staff in the coming days, for the Waratahs are now in crisis mode with six defeats from eight starts in 2017 and staring down the barrel of a horror year.

"When the team is in the situation it's in, those questions are going to be asked," Gibson said. "I'm going to cop it. Those decisions are beyond my control.

"At the end of the day, the coach is responsible for that performance. That's a team not at it's best and that's my responsibility.

"There's going to be a lot of soul searching in terms of [players] looking at themselves very deeply. That goes for everyone in the organisation [asking] are we at our best? Is everyone doing their jobs to the highest ability they are capable of? Only the players can answer that."

For context, in the only other match-up between the two sides, the Waratahs annihilated the Kings 72-10 in 2013; their biggest-ever victory.

How times have changed.

The Waratahs froze with panic and senior players failed to lead from the front with their backs against the wall.

Gibson dead-batted a question about whether Wallabies representatives were in danger of losing their national jerseys if they didn't raise their standards.

"Their No.1 focus is playing well for the Waratahs, first thing first is they've got to be at their best," Gibson said. "I expect that of all our players to be their best and tonight they weren't."

If the Waratahs wanted to announce themselves as genuine contenders to play finals football, they fired a blank, showing fair and square they are nowhere near their best as they were outmuscled and outclassed in a David-versus-Goliath clash.

Gibson believed the Waratahs lacked urgency but stopped short of sticking the boot completely into his players, something no doubt his predecessor Michael Cheika would have done.

"The messages at half-time was I felt the team lacked urgency," Gibson said. "Tonight, clearly not at out best. That's probably the most frustrating thing. We were 17 points up and looking relatively comfortable.

"Given that inconsistency, we can't be competitive for that full 80 minutes."

If someone had said before the match the Kings would have 58 per cent of possession across the 80 minutes, you would have said they were dreaming.

NSW were probably capable of winning by 30 or 40 points if they played their best football and would have privately been eyeing a crucial bonus point.

Now, they go back to the drawing board in search of not just tries and competition points, but credibility among the NSW rugby community.

To make matters even worse, the Waratahs led 17-0 after 34 minutes but capitulated, struggling at set-piece and coughing up too much football at crucial moments.

Tighthead prop Paddy Ryan was penalised on a number of occasions at scrum-time and the absence of Sekope Kepu was clearly evident. Hooker Tolu Latu had an off night with his lineout throws.

Michael Hooper, who has arguably been the Waratahs' standout player this year, was a broken man at full-time.

While his efforts on a personal note have been unwavering, the effect of captaining this Waratahs side must be taxing.

"It was a pretty embarrassing performance from us there," Hooper told Fox Sports. "Our set-piece is terrible at the moment. It's going to be a really tough weekend."

The Waratahs scored the opening three tries of the match through Taqele Naiyaravoro, Rob Horne and Cam Clark but the Kings responded with a five-pointer of their own four minutes out from half-time to put the score at 17-7.

They made things even more interesting with another in the 47th minute.

Many thought they would drop off as they have done so often, but in what has to be one of their greatest wins, the Kings dealt NSW a serious dose of reality on one of their darkest evenings.

"Every time we lose at home that's the most disappointing thing," Gibson said. "Tonight we were a long way from our best.

"I wouldn't think that complacency would creep into a team that's in the position that we're in and that's frustrating.

"We got a good amount of work done [after the bye] but I'm not going to hide behind that as an excuse. Simply [we are] not at our best."

The silver lining to the defeat was the Waratahs actually gained distance on the conference leading Brumbies, given they got within seven points of the Kings.

The Brumbies sit atop the Australian conference on 17 points, followed by the Reds (10), Force (9) and then Waratahs (9).

The Force play the Chiefs on Saturday.

This story Horror-Tahs: NSW sink into crisis after embarrassing loss to Kings first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.