SOUTHERN Beaches captain-coach Va Talaileva is not looking forward to watching the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union semi-finals.
Beaches are in sixth spot and won’t be involved in the play-offs for the first time in three years.
But they gave an insight to what could have been with a 40-34 win over finals-bound Wanderers at Ernie Calland Oval on Saturday .
In their best performance of the season, Beaches led 26-7 at halftime and stretched the margin to 40-12 midway through the second half.
The Two Blues stormed home thanks to a flood of possession from penalties but fell short.
“We showed today that we can do it,” Talaileva said. “Watching the the semi-finals, the boys will be gutted but it will also be good for us next year. It will make the boys hungry to get back there. We have no excuses and no-one to blame but us. Next season has already started for us.”
Hayden O’Brien and Sione Olive both scored doubles in Beaches’ fifth win of the campaign.
The loss dropped Wanderers to fifth place and all but ended their top-three hopes.
Elsewhere Saturday, leaders Hamilton scored 31 unanswered points in the second half to overpower Lake Macquarie 41-10 at Walters Park.
Maitland moved into second spot with a hard fought 38-17 win over Nelson Bay at Marcellin Park.
Merewether ran riot in the second half on the way to a 67-12 win over University at Townson Oval.
Meanwhile, a minute silence was observed before each round 15 game in respect of long-time NHRU vice president Graham “Sleepy” Cowan, who died on Saturday morning after a battle with cancer.