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Cheika praises Tahs after edgy win

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Sportal.co.nz     01 Apr 2013     Getty Images

Playing against former coach Michael Foley for the first time, the 'Tahs led 23-9 early in the second stanza when Adam Ashley-Cooper scored the hosts' only try of the afternoon in his 100th Investec Super Rugby game.

The plucky Force hit back with a converted try to Alfi Mafi and a penalty goal to close within four points on the hour, but the Waratahs held their nerve to post consecutive victories for the first time this season.

"We looked a bit more comfortable being a score up than perhaps a few weeks ago (in the loss to the Cheetahs) when we were a bit more jittery," Cheika said.

"I think there's still a bit (of anxiety there) but (we're getting there) a little bit at a time.

"I just really feel our guys that we've started grooming in leadership roles are taking their responsibility really seriously and committing to the cause and that's helping a lot of guys to come follow.

"But we're not going to get carried away with anything at this stage."

He added when asked how much improvement is left in his side: "(We've got) miles to go. There's no finished product coming any time soon but that's not to say we're not happy with some of the way we're playing.

"We're getting the ball out to the players we need to. The guys who we want to get the ball (Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell) are getting the ball and they're making yards.

"We need to deliver a more consistent platform and be more comfortable to stay on the ball for longer periods of time."

Cheika admits former rugby league international Folau, who was one the Waratahs' best performers for the second straight week, has exceeded his expectations in his maiden Super Rugby season.

Folau made several genuine line breaks, was assured under the high ball and did nothing wrong in defence in a solid all-round performance at Allianz Stadium.

"Yeah he's going great, I'm really happy with him," Cheika said.

"From the start I've been quite happy with his progression and his comfort factor on the ball.

"We're seeing him now have very little doubt in what he's doing. He's entering the line, his ruck work's good, he's great under the high ball and then he's returning (well).

"It's up to us to try and orchestrate a bit more space for him to try and show his true talents but I think in the last few weeks in particular he's really started to get a move on and he's really enjoying his footy too which is good."