GUTTED was the general consensus of opinion as the home supporters trudged out of Blundellsands last Saturday.
For they had just minutes before seen their favourites heading for a famous victory only to have the prize plucked away in the final moments as league leaders Stockport went over for a try wide out.
Stockport were sporting enough to admit that on this occasion it was a match they did not deserve to win and were full of praise for the relegation-threatened club’s efforts.
Yet it is easy to say that on this showing Waterloo do not deserve to go down.
But league rugby is a hard place to be and no matter the performance, winning is everything and so far they have fallen short.
To be fair there are indications that director of rugby Jan Van Deventer and assistant coach Gareth Hopkin are heading in the right direction.
Certainly under Hopkin the pack is beginning to galvanise into a more competitive unit.
Hopefully the New Year will see a climb up the table.
“Gutted is an understatement,” Van Deventer admitted after the game.
“It might appear strange but I was pleased that the players felt the same way in the changing room.
“A few months ago I don’t think we would have seen that but now that they are beginning to believe in themselves.
“They know it was a game they could and should have won and that is what makes this defeat and the one the other week at Chester hard to bear.”
It was a try from Stockport wing Mike Pearson just a couple of minutes from the final whistle that denied the Merseysiders victory and the upset of the day after working hard throughout the afternoon.
Stockport settled down more quickly with full-back Steve Pearson sneaking over down the right for a converted try.
Waterloo did respond and flanker Dan Palmer got down the blindside to cross the line to narrow the deficit.
Then, despite being reduced to 14 when Gary Lunt was yellow carded, the Merseysiders snatched the lead when wing James O’Brien dashed almost the length of the field for an interception try which he successfully converted.
Waterloo’s forwards were beginning to gain more possession but the visitors insisted on maintaining some presence in the home half before lock Paul Ralph touched down for Steve Pearson to convert superbly from wide out.
With the interval approaching, O’Brien was again on target with a penalty to provide the narrowest of leads.
It was becoming a ding-dong contest with Stockport’s Pearson exchanging penalties with O’Brien.
At 18-17 and time running out, a badly directed penalty kick from Waterloo fly-half Liam Reeve allowed Stockport to regain their footing in home territory.
Stockport’s pressure was ultimately rewarded via Pearson’s five-pointer and they readily admitted they had escaped from the proverbial jail.
THIS Saturday Waterloo are away to Sandal before the league takes a two-week break over the Christmas and New Year period.
“Putting the defeat aside, there is a tremendous spirit amongst all the squad many of whom have come up through the junior ranks and that can only be good for the long term future of the club,” Van Deventer said.
“Any away game in Yorkshire almost always appears tougher than anywhere else but I can think of no better place to start our fightback.”