POWER: The Waratahs breakaway Elekana Laupolo taken down by the Southern Beaches defence on Saturday. Picture: Marina Neil.The Waratahs’ premiership aspirations hang in the balance after a 24-15 loss to Southern Beaches at Waratah Oval on Saturday.
The hosts conceded 19 unanswered points in the second half after leading 15-5 at the break, and now find themselves in a three-way share of fourthplace on the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union competition ladder.
The Waratahssit on 54 points alongside Southern Beaches and Maitlandwith one round remaining in the regular season for 2016.Merewether Carlton (57) areslightly above them in third spot.
One of those four sides will miss thesemi-finals, which start next weekend, depending on results in the last round this Saturday.
Waratahs final charge hits in-form Beaches TweetFacebook Round 17: The Waratahs v Southern BeachesPictures by Marina NeilThe crunch game has The Waratahsaway to Maitland whileSouthern Beaches host Nelson Bay and Merewether Carlton meet second-placed Wanderers (72), who trail leaders Hamilton (74) by two points.
The boys in red could have given themselves some much needed breathing space if they had of accounted for the fast-finishing Southern Beaches, who notched up a fifth straight win.
“It wasn’t a good day at the office for us,” The Waratahs rugby manager Dennis Hurst said.
“It was a disappointing game because we dropped the ball,went away from what we should have been doing and we paid the price for it.
“Beaches controlled the game really well, took their opportunities and had a couple of stand out players.”
The Waratahsare also waiting on the result of a potential player points system breach involving a first grader earlier this season.
The club made a submission to the NHRUlast week.
Elsewhere on Saturday andHamilton are now one win away from securing the minor premiership after defeating Merewether Carlton 30-13 at Passmore Oval, which includeda double to halfback Daiyu Ishimori. Hawksfullback Ben Harris could miss the entire finals campaign with a hamstring tearand five-eighth Sam McNeil sustained a back injury.
Wanderers skipper Luke Simmons racked up 26 personal points in a 44-23 victory over Nelson Bay (12)at Bill Strong Oval. The Gropers are now last after Singleton (14) surged home to defeat University (15) 31-27 at Callaghan with Bulls winger Dot Manu scoring a hat-trick.
“It was a see-sawing game and we just came over the top of them in the final stages,” Singleton coach Bob Harris said.
Maitland won the remaining round 17 fixture 31-19 against seventh-placed Lake Macquarie (32) at Walters Park with Blacks outside centre Chris Logan nabbing two tries.
LADDER: Hamilton 74; Wanderers 72; Merewether Carlton 57; The Waratahs,Southern Beaches,Maitland54; Lake Macquarie 32; University 15; Singleton 14; Nelson Bay 12.