Waratahs 'an unadulterated trainwreck in defence'
ASIDE from putting a sliver of distance between themselves and the worst Waratahs teams on record, NSW have nothing left to play for in 2017. It's all over with two games left to play.
And if you want to know why, most of the season's failure can be found in two stats columns: points conceded and yellow cards.
Aka defence and discipline.
The Waratahs have ruined themselves with consistently ordinary output in both. Sometimes it was one or the other but on most nights - like the loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton - it has been a toxic brew of both.
To highlight how much damage missed tackles and sin-bins have hurt the Tahs, first take a look at their attack.
It is actually on track to be one of the best ever Waratahs' seasons in attack. They've scored 48 tries in 13 games, which is running at a franchise-record 3.7 tries a game.
As they did against the Chiefs, the Waratahs have scored an average of four tries against the five New Zealand teams; the highest of all overseas rivals.
The 2017 Waratahs are scoring more points per game than the 2014 Waratahs did.
But the 2017 Waratahs have gone absolutely nowhere because they're an unadulterated trainwreck in defence.
For every try they score NSW let in one or more.
The Waratahs' two games left against the Jaguares and Force in July gives them a chance to move higher than four wins, and finish above the 2012 team's record-low of a 25 per cent win rate. (On 30 per cent now even more two losses would only see them get to 26 per cent, which is no refuge).
But there is one record this team look certain to get: the worst defensive Waratahs in Super Rugby history.
This season, the Tahs have conceded 58 tries in 13 games. That's already more than any professional NSW team has ever let in - including sides who'd played 16 games.
To put it in context, the 2014 champions let in 24 tries for the whole season.
This season NSW have averaged a record-high 34 points against them a game, and over 40 points a game conceded against Kiwis teams.
A for-and-against of minus-84 is the worst ever and requires a good win or two in the last few games to get above 2012's record of minus-62.
In every defence stat, the Waratahs are bottom five in the comp.
So how did it get to this sorry state?
The Waratahs' defence coach Nathan Grey has never shied away from accountability and he'll shoulder the blame. It has to be said that it's a concern that Grey is also the Wallabies defence coach.
Grey's system appears to need a thorough review but there's only so much a coach can do when it comes to players making one-on-one tackles, and NSW players have been missing key ones all season.
When stretched, the Tahs have stuck arms out and gaps have appeared; in the midfield particularly. They've let offloads hurt them and allowed rivals to get in behind them too easily.
A big part of the problem has been the fact that routinely the Waratahs have been playing with 14 men in 2017.
They've conceded 12 yellow cards this season - the equal-most with Queensland.
Give or take few, that's 120 minutes of the 1040 minutes they've played this year down a man.
Over a tenth of their season armed with just 14 men.
Super Rugby rivals are too good these days for you to get away with that unharmed.
And they haven't.
Another Waratahs season is kaput and they can only blame themselves.