Two Blues show character to turn game but must lift for semis

Two Blues show character to turn game but must lift for semis Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill
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Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

TweetFacebookCOACH Viv Paasi was happy with the character Wanderers showed but stressed the Two Blues must improve to have any hope of upsetting Hamilton and gaining direct entry to the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union grand final.

A sloppy and ill disciplined Two Blues side came from behind to pip The Waratahs 22-19 in the qualifying semi-final at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.

The Two Blues trailed 16-5 at half-time and did not hit the front until the 70th minute, when prop Andrew Tuala bullocked over from close range.

From there they hung on, despite playing the final six minutes with 14 men after breakaway Daniel Martine received a second yellow card for a lifting tackle.

The teenager had earlier spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for pulling down a maul.

His hopes of lining up against the Hawks in the major semi-final on Saturday hinge on a judiciary appearance on Wednesday night.

‘‘We were our own worst enemy at times,’’ Paasi said.

‘‘We didn’t get the little things right and weren’t patient.

‘‘In saying that, they showed a lot of character to get the lead back and hold on to it.

‘‘It was a good learning experience for a lot of the guys.

‘‘We weren’t good, but we still won.’’

Defending premiers the Two Blues are yet to beat the Hawks this season, going down 41-25 in round seven and 18-17 three weeks ago.

‘‘Hamilton are No.1 for a reason and are a very good defensive side,’’ Paasi said.

‘‘We need to improve, but I have faith that the boys will go out and do a good job.’’

Wanderers scored four tries to one against the Tahs, but it took big plays from wingers Bill Coffey and Zac Atallah to spark them into action.

Powered by the radar boot of Dane Sherratt, the Tahs controlled the first half and went to the break up 16-5.

The turning point came three minutes into the second half when Tahs fullback Tim Riley was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul which saved a certain try.

Four minutes later, Coffey ran over four defenders in a 60-metre solo effort to crash over in the left corner.

Cal McDonald delivered a neat inside ball for Atallah to cross two minutes later and the Two Blues were in the groove.

‘‘It is not often that your two wingers are your best players,’’ Paasi said. ‘‘Billy and Zac really helped take the edge off the forwards and got us a lot of front-foot ball.

‘‘The try Billy scored was the turning point for us. You could see the boys lift.

‘‘He is a special player in that sense. He can turn something from nothing.’’

The Tahs defence, in close in particular, was strong, and they won a close contest at the scrum.

‘‘Our first 40 minutes was very good,’’ Tahs coach Matt Chidgey said.

‘‘But, at the end of the day, they were too good for us. That is what the scoreboard says.

‘‘We had some opportunities and didn’t take them. That was the short of it.’’

Waratahs captain Carl Manu limped off with 15 minutes to go and is under a cloud for the minor semi-final.

‘‘It’s his hammy, but we will give him every opportunity to be right,’’ Chidgey said.

‘‘The past two weeks we have had a number of players out and you probably wouldn’t know it. The guys who have come in have stepped up and played really well.’’

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