The Daikin Cooldown: Melbourne Rebels vs NSW Waratahs with Chris Malone 3/07/2018 By NSW Waratahs Media unit Photo credit: Getty ImagesThe NSW Waratahs have kept their top spot on the Australian Conference after defeating the second-seeded Melbourne Rebels 26-31 at AAMI Park last Friday night.We sat down with Assistant Coach Chris Malone to get his take on the game and the road ahead in this week’s edition of the Daikin Cooldown.It was a close contest between two Australian rivals – talk us through the match.It was exactly the type of game that we expected – fierce attacking, a gritty battle up front and an all-out, hard-fought contest. And we knew it would be a different match to the last time we played the Melbourne Rebels, when we put 50 points on them in Sydney in March. Last Friday’s win didn’t come easy after a disruptive week. But the win underlined our patience when we were nine points down with 12 minutes to go until the final whistle and our fighting spirit and determination to remain on top of the Australian conference. There is no doubt that we came away from that win knowing that our performance wasn’t 100 percent perfect but it certainly was a boost going into the next challenge against the Sunwolves this coming Saturday.Despite going two tries down, we managed to fight our way back on top. How did this come about?One of the great things about the victory on the weekend was we never felt we were out of it and we just kept coming and kept searching to try and put things together on the attack. The last two tries came from our patience, on the back of our defensive system and our players reading the Rebels’ play well to put us in a position to score.Bernard Foley looked to step into the captaincy role quite naturally – what’s your take on his performance as a leader?He kicked 100% and his composure at the end of the game when we were down was exemplary. His cool head, along with the team’s overall composure during that tough period of the match, was what won the game for us.As a coach, how do you think the younger guys faired in terms of stepping up to the plate to take the places of key players such as Michael Hooper and Israel Folau?We’ve known all along to get where we want to go in this competition, we need the whole squad to contribute. The composure shown by Bryce Hegarty and Will Miller in filling these roles showed their level of professionalism to step up and take ownership in getting the job done. Once again, the squad contributed to the 31-26 scoreline last Friday night.What lessons came out of Friday night?The most important thing was we got back together as a playing unit. We kept our cool, dug in and we found a way to win a game when we weren’t at our best. It’s a positive step and I believe it’s a game we wouldn’t have won in 2017 if circumstances had been the same. Our attentions have now turned to the Sunwolves this Saturday night.Are you expecting the relentless, fast-paced, side we saw earlier this year?Absolutely. As you’ve seen in the last few games they’ve played, they will come and ‘throw the kitchen sink at us’ so to speak. They’ve scored a few points in the past few games they’ve played and we need to make sure we’re at our attacking and defensive best to get the result. The Sunwolves will ask a lot of questions of our attack and defence and we need to be sharp in order to shut them down. In terms of the lead-up to Saturday, it’s a longer training week which gives more time to prepare together as a unit.Two more games remain in the regular season as we build towards the finals series. How crucial are these next two games in setting up a finals campaign?It is absolutely crucial at this time of year to be winning your games. We need to focus on getting a good result against the Sunwolves before we can focus on the Brumbies and anything beyond that.Listen up, NSW Waratahs Members: this Saturday night is your night when the team run out to face the Sunwolves in a Members’ Round special at Allianz Stadium.Not a member? Secure your seat to this Saturday’s match here at www.nswwaratahs.com.au/tickets.