RUGBY: Having lost three successive games to make their worst start to a season, the Waratahs faced oblivion when trailing 25-6 at half-time to the Rebels before a second-half surge saw them orchestrate one of Super Rugby's greatest comebacks to win 32-25.
David Horwitz, who scored the winning try on the buzzer, said the Tahs were not going to be broken despite the intense scrutiny leading into the match and the enormous odds they faced in the second 40 minutes.
"We're not a team that's going to splinter, when we're under adversity that's the biggest measure of our pre-season and our identity," Horwitz said.
"I think that came through in spades in the second half.
"It would have been almost irrelevant if we didn't score that last try, just because we showed the belief. That's almost more important than what happened on the scoreboard.
"But obviously it was good to get the win."
Horwitz was relieved that his gamble to dummy outside with a huge overlap to go for the line himself paid off after seeing coach Daryl Gibson post-match.
"Daryl said after the game that if I didn't score myself he would have probably cut my head off because I think we had a five-on-two on the outside," Horwitz said.
"But that's what made the gap, Izzy (Folau) was there, they were all screaming for it, so the defence was all looking outside and a little window opened.
"I hadn't thrown too many dummies in the game so it was nice to pick my chance and score, otherwise I would have been having to answer to Daryl."
Players revealed Gibson had given them a sizzling halftime spray after they'd conceded three tries and defended woefully in the first half.
"He's one of those coaches that motivates you by trusting you through the process, but I think (Friday) night was definitely needed," Horwitz said.
"The performance in the first half was definitely something not to be proud of, and he definitely put us in our place and spurred us to be better.
"We needed to be and we were in patches in that second half."
Horwitz started for the first time this season, alongside five-eighth Bernard Foley, who was sidelined for one month with concussion.
Alongside excellent play from captain Michael Hooper, Tolu Latu, Ned Hanigan and power running from replacement winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, the Foley-Horwitz midfield partnership was crucial to the Tahs resurrection.
"He's very experienced so his chat is so specific and very calm, if you just do what he says it works out so he's quite easy to play with," Horwitz said of the Wallaby playmaker.
"We were quite interchangeable so I found myself at first receiver a lot with him out the back conducting the forwards, all I had to do was stay square and play to what he said.
"I thought it worked well for patches, there's still massive amounts of growth there, whether that's our skill execution between each other or seeing more of the opportunities and how we're going to get the ball there."
The Waratahs are now 2-3 from five games and host the undefeated Crusaders next Sunday at Allianz Stadium.
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