Powerful first half helps Waratahs end Leeton's winning streak

It was a game of two halves, but Waratahs were able to extract some grand final revenge against Leeton on Saturday.

The Wagga club flew out of the blocks and looked in ominous form before a second half comeback by the premiers.

Trailing 40-7 at the break, the Phantoms got within seven points with around 10 minutes to play before Waratahs responded to ensure victory.

Two late tries were enough to take a 54-33 win and jump clear at the top of the Southern Inland ladder as the halfway mark approaches.

Coach Richard Skellern thought a lack of possession really hurt his team in the second half.

“They had the ball for 30 minutes and we didn’t react so they scored three tries,” Skellern said.

“It changed the whole game to be honest.”

Skellern thought his side lost their composure after a strong first half.

Despite the second half slip up, it now means Waratahs are now the only undefeated team in the competition.

They ended Leeton’s 21 game winning streak, a year after the Phantoms ended their own undefeated run.

Skellern was pleased to get a little bit of breathing space at the top, but thought the second half showed there is still plenty to work on.

“We had a really good first half, came of the blocks firing, but didn’t go on with it unfortunately until the end,” he said.

“The lesson is learnt and we will take the win but there is still a lot of work to do.”

Both Waratahs and Leeton have been rarely tested to start the season.

Before the top of the table clash Waratahs’ smallest winning margin had been 51 points against Ag College to start the season.

Skellern believes he now has a better indication of where the competition favourites are at.

“It is good to get some breathing space at the top of the ladder but at the end of the day there is a lot of work to do before we come up against them out there,” he said.

“It will be a tough game, they are a very good side.

“We just have to keep our composure, discipline and there is another seven games before we meet them again to work on our structure and discipline.

“It was a great game and I’m sure it is good for both clubs to see where we are compared to each other and everyone else.”

The speed on Brad Hart and Corey Toole came to the fore again as Waratahs stormed out to an early lead.

Toole opened the scoring only for Nick Patterson to hit back for the Phantoms.

Hart then scored a long rang effort but it shaped as though it was going to be a real arm wrestle in the first half, before some ill discipline from Leeton crept into the game.

The Wagga side were able to get a roll on after tries to Charlie Sykes and Toole before a Harry Hosegood try really turned the tide.

Leeton had a overlap before Petero Taitusi decided to go himself but was stopped by Dan Selmes, Hart then created a break before putting Hosegood over.

Austin Wallace then crashed over with the last play of the half to hand the Wagga club a massive lead.

That was until Leeton launched back into the contest after tries to Emori Vueti, TIm Allen, Paul Taavao and Taitusi. 

However Waratahs responded when they finally got a little more ball.


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