They may have been beaten up by injuries, but Maitland Blacks coach Luke Cunningham was extremely confident his side could have gone a long way in the Hunter Rugby semi-finals. His faith was spot on and only some costly errors cost them victory going down 22-17 to Wanderers in an epic minor semi-final at No.2 Sportsground on Sunday. "It's disappointing. It was there to take, but through a few errors we just let Wanderers off the hook at crucial times and we paid the price because of it," Cunningham said. "The boys really put in a good showing. Their effort and commitment was great." In the news: The Blacks pulled a selection surprise on Sunday with captain Chris Logan (ACL) and Anderson Medal favourite Nick Davidson (wrist) on the bench with Pat Batey who had been flagged as a possible inclusion. Sam Callow and Pat Robards were also included in the team. "We kept it pretty quiet. I didn't want the return of those injured guys to overshadow everything else that was important for the weekend," Cunningham said. "For us to beat Wanderers it was going to take a full-team effort and I didn't want the focus to be on those returning players. "Pat and Nick played the full second half and thankfully both got through okay. "Pat found himself in contact a few times and he was able to get up and it didn't effect him which is great from his health perspective. "Nick was able to play really well with his wrist and Chris came on in the last 10 minutes." Not looking for excuses for an early knock out in the finals, Cunningham admitted the Blacks had been hurt by injuries in the second half of the season and going into the finals. "It's the unfortunate nature of a contact sport that some teams will have that little bit of luck and not be affected by any serious injuries to key players. "Unfortunately, we were travelling really well up until the midpoint of the year and then some long-term injuries to key guys acted as a bit of speedbump for us. "I'm certainly not using that as an excuse. The guys who came in certainly gave it their all. "It still is disappointing as I was extremely confident we could have gone further into the finals, but it wasn't meant to be." Cunningham said setting aside the disappointment of all three grades being knocked out on Sunday it had been a good year for the club. "We've had fantastic numbers. We've had an influx of younger players who have worked their way up from under-18s and through the grades into second and first grades. "We have some really good depth throughout the club. "The important thing now is that we retain those guys and sure up and strengthen some of those positions we might have been a little light on during the year. "The club is in a really good position. They are a tight-knit crew from first to third grade. "I'm just really disappointed for the players. They give up a lot of their time and make a lot of commitment sacrifices to be able to play at this time of the year."