Fit Tahs aim to tame Lions in Super Rugby

Adrian Warren

Better ball control since their last nightmare meeting with the Lions has the NSW Waratahs confident they can reverse that result in Saturday's Super Rugby semi final in Johannesburg.

The Tahs suffered their heaviest loss of the season and their first scoreless match, when the Lions beat them 29-0 in Sydney back in April.

It started a hellish five-game stretch for the Tahs, who played New Zealand teams in their next four games, winning just one.

A late season resurgence has produced four wins from five games, despite skipper and openside flanker Michael Hooper missing all but one of those matches with a hamstring injury.

The Waratahs won't be deviating from their attacking ball-in-hand style against a formidable Lions team looking to make a third straight final.

The Lions have won their last three encounters with NSW, beating them 55-36 on their last visit to Ellis Park last year.

"We're a hell of a lot fitter than we were last year," Waratahs' attack coach Chris Malone said.

"Having played the Lions once already this year, we made 37 turnovers in that game and any team that does that isn't going to be successful.

"We've been controlling the ball a lot better in recent times.

"We clearly play a game of rugby designed to suit the players that we have and the talents they have, so we can't go away from that."

Malone said the Lions had plenty of tricks up their sleeves.

"They are willing to run from their own line , they are willing to put in little attacking kicks from deep in their own territory," he said.

"They have got a fairly good all round game, they've got speed, they've got drive, they've got a lot of threats across the park.

"They clearly like getting the ball into that forward pack of theirs. Their lineout has been a strength of their's for a long time."