The Waratahs are back to square one after a performance full of missed tackles and missed opportunities against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
A dangerous Chiefs team pounced on anything the Waratahs let their way and created a few moments of brilliance of their own in a three try to one win.
Despite the Tahs having the weight of possession, the teams went into the sheds with the Chiefs up 13 points to 10.
The first half never really go into much of a rhythm. Both teams made good breaks and the Tahs were probably the dominant side.
Tom Kingston scored the first points in the match with a long reach over his head to plant the ball. It came off a deft inside ball from McKibbin, who also slotted the conversion.
Seven-nil was as good as the Tahs lead was going to get as the Chiefs hit back almost immediately with Tim Nanai-Williams making a clean break from half way and creating a try to Robbie Robinson.
Both teams made clean breaks and missed tackles in the rest of the half but the Chiefs always looked more dangerous.
Berrick Barnes didn’t help with two restarts going out on the full, and a prime attacking opportunity wasted with a kick-pass to Benn Robinson who was all alone on the wing.
While Barnes hardly had his best game, he wasn’t alone.
The general drive, enthusiasm and attitude from last week’s game in Sydney was absent as the Chiefs put pressure on McKibbin at the breakdown and forced errors and poor decisions.
Sonny Bill Williams and Richard Kahui were impressive in the centres, and played well off five-eighth Aaron Cruden. It was hard to tell who did what, though, as the Chiefs almost all had shaved their heads for charity.
SBW inadvertently created a try for pink-booted prop Arizona Taumalolo, with a lucky bounce off TPN from a horrible grubber kick.
That set the tone for the second half and it seemed like the Tahs hardly had the ball after that.
The Tahs forwards absorbed a huge amount of pressure, holding the Chiefs pack up twice over the line.
When they did get the ball back there was always a knock-on or loose pass that took any pressure off the Chiefs.
The Tahs bench made little difference, as Michael Foley’s gameplan had fallen apart by the time they arrived and any comeback looked less and less likely.
Paddy Ryan copped another hammering in the scrums, which had held up very well until the last quarter of the game.
A dominant Chiefs scrum led to their final try even if replacement loosie Sam Cane was well and truly offside intercepting a pass off the base to Sarel Pretorius.
It didn’t make a difference to the final outcome and the Chiefs were deserving winners.
The Waratahs now have a week off to lick their wounds and try and come up with something to resurrect their inconsistent season.
Chiefs 30 (Messam, Taumalolo, Robinson tries. Cruden 3 con. Cruden 3 pens.) def. Waratahs 13 (Kingston try. McKibbin con. McKibbin 2 pens.)
What can they do to turn it around from here?