Moruya Sharks returned to the winners' list outlasting the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs 34-28 on a glorious autumn's day in Moruya.
Both clubs were understrength for the Mother's Day clash where the Sharks debuted teenagers Kane Duncan and Jack Grant, while the return of Aaron Brierley helped cover the large injury toll.
Similarly the Bulldogs were short a few key personnel and called on their portability Candelo-Bemboka players to fill the bench.
Sharks coach Neil Williams said the contest was a draining "arm wrestle" at both ends, but the Moruya outfit had lifted their ball control on previous rounds.
"We controlled the ball and played it down our end a lot better, but we still have a lot of work to do," he said.
The 'Dogs made the first break when James McMillan found room on the edge and then Brock Seabrook secured a first-half double.
With all three converted by Corey Schafer the Sharks were on the back foot trailing 18-0.
However, the Sharks are never a team to be written off on their home turf.
The Sharks began wrapping up the ball better and gained dominant field position with Kane Duncan reaping the rewards of the better control to score twice on the fringe late in the half.
It was a bit of a heart-in-mouth job in the endNeil Williams - Sharks coach
The siren sounded with the Sharks reeling back the Dogs to an 18-10 margin at the break.
A good talk at the half had the home side firing into the second half with tries to Dennis Green and Patrick McMahon in the first five minutes seeing the Sharks up 22-18.
The Sharks were all but in again soon after, but the Dogs Luke Rixon scored a length of the field effort after recovering a loose ball from his own try-line.
However, the Sharks took charge of play and tries to Dean Scott and Dennis Green soon followed to restore the Sharks lead at 34-24 with 20 minutes remaining.
Seabrook was able to find this third for the Bulldogs late in the piece, but it was the last addition to the scoreboard with the Sharks carding the 34-28 result.
Club officials credited a resolute Moruya defensive effort to contain the Bulldogs in the second half despite the visitors spending plenty of time pressing the attack.
Williams said the team might have been "a bit cocky" after strong early round wins, but a big loss to Tathra last week and the tough fight with Bulldogs meant there were lessons to be learned.
"We might have been getting a bit ahead of ourselves, Merimbula proved that it is not going to be an easy year," Williams said.
"It was a bit of a heart-in-mouth job in the end, but it's a competition that is open and you just got to turn up on the day and play well to win."
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Club officials said the usual suspects were among the best for the Sharks including Dean Scott and Zac Ingram who were outstanding in defence and damaging in attack.
Kane Duncan had a debut to remember playing in the unaccustomed role of winger and youngster Jack Grant was impressive in attack and defence. Koorin Campbell had his best game this year and he kicked five from seven mostly out wide to impress with the boot.
Brock Seabrook and Corey Schafer were among the standouts from the visitors, while the Bulldogs' forward pack had toiled for the full 80 minutes.
Earlier, the Sharkettes had a comfortable win in league-tag, downing the Candelo-Bemboka Pink Panthers 28-6.
The Sharkettes were strong across the park with five individual try-scorers with the Pink Panthers only able to find the try-line once through Nikki Ainsworth.
Renee Coubrough impressed with the boot, kicking four of five conversion attempts including adding the two points to her own try on the day.
Completing the clean sweep, the Sharks had also won the reserve grade fixture 34-8.
Jarrod Cottington was a standout out of the halves, picking up a double as the Sharks ran out a dominant performance over the visitors.