Michael Hooper (R) became the most capped backrower for the NSW Waratahs / © AFP
NSW Waratahs coach Darren Coleman said his team are in "a hole of confidence and form" after their third straight Super Rugby Pacific defeat, blaming himself for their struggles.
They slumped 24-14 to the Waikato Chiefs in Sydney on Friday, with the table-topping New Zealanders the only side still unbeaten after round five.
It was the 'Tahs fourth loss from five this season on a day that Wallabies veteran Michael Hooper became their most capped backrower of all-time with his 133rd cap.
Coleman's injury-hit outfit were resolute in defence and showed plenty of fight, but failed to take their chances in attack.
"It hurts doesn't it. You just want to get out of that hole of confidence and form," he told reporters.
"We tried hard. It wasn't through effort that we didn't get (the result) there.
"It's an ordinary feeling," he added. "I just hope -– I sound like I'm bleeding here -– that the NSW rugby public appreciate the boys' effort. I've just got to coach better to get that clinical nature in our attack."
The visitors dominated possession in the opening half, mounting attack after attack.
Chiefs' fly-half Bryn Gatland crossed for an early opening try ahead of a trademark Jake Gordon intercept try that put the home team level 7-7 at the break.
A penalty from Damian McKenzie, in his 100th Super Rugby match, restored the Chiefs' lead before winger Emoni Narawa sent them 17-7 clear with a 54th-minute touchdown.
Hooper gave the 'Tahs hope by finishing off a beautiful lineout maul before Narawa put the game to bed late on with his second try.
"We didn't get too many chances with the ball in the first half," Coleman said. "In the second, we did and we just didn't take them."