(Reuters) - New South Wales Waratahs coach Darren Coleman was left to rue a deflating end to a Super Rugby Pacific season that had shown glimmers of promise only to end with a quarter-final exit at the hands of the Auckland Blues on Friday.
The Blues handed the Waratahs a 41-12 defeat in Auckland that saw the New Zealanders romp clear as a result of a strong second-half showing after a keenly contested opening 40 minutes, leaving Coleman frustrated at several missed opportunities.
"It's disappointing," said Coleman. "You come here with some hope and a plan. I feel bad for the boys because the naysayers back home will wake up and see that score and think we weren't in it at any point.
"Don't get me wrong, the Blues were definitely better than us...I don't know, you are always optimistic.
"If we score one or two of those (near misses), we don't leak right on half-time when they got that last try, you may be banging and running around with a bit of energy to keep you in the game longer."
The Waratahs had taken an early lead through Ned Hanigan's second minute try and only trailed by three points two minutes from the interval, when Nepo Laulala's converted effort increased the Blues' advantage.
However, the home side underlined their superiority in the early exchanges of the second half to open up a comfortable margin of victory as the Waratahs missed out on a place in the semi-finals.
"I am disappointed," said Coleman, whose team won six of their 14 regular season games. "You put eight months work into it and it comes to an end with a scoreboard that isn't flattering.
"But I am also determined there is enough in this group that we can improve and have another shot next year."
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Michael Perry)