A PENALTY goal from Wanderers No.8 James Wivell two minutes from full-time capped a never-say-die victory against Merewether in Sunday’s Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union elimination semi-final at Townson Oval.
杭州桑拿

Trailing 27-10 after conceding five first-half tries, the Two Blues stormed home after the break to win 32-30, ending an eight-game losing streak at the hands of their arch-rivals.

Wanderers advance to meet Hamilton in Saturday’s preliminary final at No.2 Sportsground. The winner will play the Waratahs in the grand final.

His team might have appeared down and out after a Merewether try-scoring blitz just before half-time, but Wanderers coach Todd Louden was always confident they would rally.

“The first half we scored the tries for them, as well as our tries,” Louden said.

“I just felt at half-time we could win it . . . we were the ones playing the rugby.

“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but I think the guys are starting to believe in themselves. It’s starting to come together.”

Asked if he was confident Wanderers could go all the way, Louden replied: “I’ve always thought we can.”

Louden said he backed Wivell to handle the pressure when the Greens conceded a 78th-minute penalty for a ruck infringement when they were leading 30-29.

From 28 metres out, almost in front, Wivell’s left boot delivered the match-winner.

“He loves those kicks, yet misses the simplest ones,” Louden said.

“That’s typical Wivs.”

Disappointed Merewether co-coach Dennis Shaw felt the Greens let a win slip through their fingers.

“You’re leading 27-10 at half-time and you’ve scored five tries. You shouldn’t give up that sort of lead,” he said.

Asked if Wanderers could go on to win the premiership, Shaw said: “Well, they’ll go further than we will.”

Merewether scored five tries to four, but whereas Wivell was on target, raising the flags five times from six attempts, Greens centre Aiden Kelso had a day to forget, landing only a goal and a penalty from seven shots.

His first conversion attempt, from in front after an intercept try by winger Ryan Lamb, was charged down by Wanderers winger Lewie Catt.

Wanderers responded with a Wivell penalty and a try by lock Marcus Christensen to lead 10-5 while Greens No.8 Dan Kevill was in the sin bin.

But Merewether regrouped to pile on four tries in 11 minutes, including two by winger Lewie Dunn, before the end of the first stanza.

Tries early in the second half by replacements Vilai Kelemete and Corey Te Koeti reduced Wanderers’ deficit to 27-22, but then Luke Sherwood was sin-binned for punching and Kelso added a penalty.

A barge-over try by Wanderers prop Dylan Evans, converted by Wivell, left the Greens vainly defending a 30-29 lead with five minutes remaining.

At Waratah Oval on Saturday, the home side performed a similarly potent second-half revival in the major semi-final to beat minor premiers Hamilton 27-15, after trailing 15-9.

Adding to Hamilton’s angst, fullback Damien Wells (chest) and forwards Steve Sione (foot) and Joe Akkersdyk (suspected broken arm) are all in serious doubt for the preliminary final.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.

Action from the NHRU minor semi-final between Merewether Carlton and Wanderers at Townson Oval on Sunday. Picture Phil Hearne.