A late flurry of tries has seen Waratahs keep their season alive while ending Griffith’s premiership defence at Conolly Rugby Complex on Saturday.
Three tries in the last ten minutes set up a dramatic finish to the Southern Inland elimination final but it was the Wagga team who finished off the best.
Richie Lamont crossed out wide to put the Waratahs back in front four minutes from full-time before they held on for a 27-25 win.
Griffith were in front for the majority of the game but couldn’t match the Waratahs’ fire power late.
Getting themselves in front for the first time with 10 minutes to play when Adam McPherson crossed out wide and Waratahs coach Will Mitchell thought the late fight was a show of the club’s character.
“Our club has a lot of character and with four grades winning today a lot of character was shown to not give up,” Mitchell said.
“There is a lot of blokes in our club that have won a lot of finals footy so it’s great we live to fight another day.”
After taking an early penalty kick the Blacks were in control during the first half and took a 15-8 lead into half-time.
They led despite halfback Jason Waring-Bryant being given a yellow card for a professional foul close to the Waratahs tryline.
Waratahs made their advantage count when Steve Tracey scored off the resulting scrum before Tino Kaue crossed with the Blacks where a man short.
Soni Saleopelu extended Griffith’s lead to 10 points after the break before Sam Palmer hit back for the Wagga club.
Palmer’s try and Euan Bonner’s subsequent conversion reduced the margin to three points before McPherson went over after some nice play by Lamont.
Lamont looked like he was going into touch just short of the line before popping a ball back to McPherson to score.
However the Waratahs’ led was only short lived after the Blacks regathered the kick off before Lindsay Maiava was put away in the corner.
Not to be denied, Waratahs found plenty of room up the middle before swinging to wide to Lamont to score the easiest of tries.
Bonner missed the conversion to give the Blacks both penalty and try options to steal the win but it didn’t in the end.
Waratahs will now face Tumut in the minor semi-final in another do or die clash at Murrayfield.
Mitchell is looking for a full performance after letting slip a number of good opportunities in the scrappy first half.
“We seem to play well in second halves which is not really something I like,” Mitchell said.
“We seem to pull our finger out in the second half and I’d much rather we do it from the kick off but it’s finals footy and if you can win ugly than that goes a long way to having a strong finals campaign.”
WARATAHS 27 (S Palmer, S Tracey, A McPherson, R Lamont tries; E Bonner 2 cons, pen) d GRIFFITH 25 (B Kurodugu, T Kaue, L Maiava tries; S Saleopelu con 2 pens)
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