BEFORE a ball was kicked in the Group 3 rugby league season back in April no-one rated the Wauchope Blues.
Most pundits expected them to finish closer to the bottom of the ladder than the top, but the plucky Blues continued to defy the odds with a heartstopping 28-26 victory over Macleay Valley on Sunday.
All the points were scored in the first 55 minutes of the contest.
The two-point win saw them progress to their first grand final since 2014 where they will play the winner of Sunday's preliminary final between the Mustangs and Port City.
They have now won three of their last four matches.
Coach Anthony Boyd admitted his side wasn't the flashiest in the competition, but their no-frills style of play stood up under the pressure of finals football.
"We're not a flashy side; we don't have blokes who can run 80 metres to score those tries, but we're not we're not going to beat ourselves and we've come to understand that," he said.
"We had a bunch of kids coming in (this season) which was a big ask, but they've had a good attitude, they're working hard and are getting better and better."
Boyd said a 30-22 win over the Mustangs up at Verge Street on July 20 provided his team with the confidence they could do it again.
"That gave them a bit of self-belief, but they've got to bring it on the day so it's been a few things that have turned it around for us," he said.
While they dropped some ball in the final quarter of the game on Sunday, their ball handling remained acceptable.
"Over the last couple of weeks we've been really good in completing our sets," he said.
"We're well-disciplined now and there were little patches in the year where we weren't which were addressed.
"It was a very strange game; in the last half hour they had a fair bit of ball at our end and we defended our line pretty good which is pleasing.
"That's improved over the last couple of weeks."
On a day where the Blues didn't have a bad player, Mat Bird, Sam Watts, Tristan Scott and Sam Ackroyd were four of their best.
They refused to beat themselves.
"The big thing with our footy side is we don't worry too much about what other sides have, whenever we play bad or are beaten it's normally from us self-imploding and we beat ourselves," Boyd said.
"Who knows, in two weeks' time I'm confident we can get the big one done too."
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