A last-minute dash by the Batemans Bay Tigers to pull together a first grade side was a surprising success, said coach Brenden Fernley after their Round 9 clash.
Fernley found himself stepping onto the field, filling in the gaps made by eight players struggling with injury and illness.
"It was very last minute," Fernley said of his contribution to the match against the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs. "Losing a few guys through the week made it quite hard."
After a tense final ten minutes, the Bulldogs pulled a 32 to 22 win against the Tigers.
Two Tigers club players made their first grade debut during the June 18 clash, creating one of the "bravest performances" of the season, according to Fernley.
"Chris O'Meley and Jimmy Desaxe led by example for the young guys and myself really - they helped me out too."
Fernley said the match result was positive for the Tigers, given the Bulldogs have sat comfortably atop the Group 16 ladder for almost 10 weeks.
"Realistically, I wasn't thinking too much about winning or losing, we just wanted to put up a good performance. I think we did exactly that."
With just seven minutes to go, Jack Flanagan, who rejoined the club this week after a four-week break, raced to the try line, bringing the scoreboard to 26-22.
"At that point, we really had a chance to win the game. To see a kid like that come through, playing his first year out of the under 18s, was awesome."
However it was the Bulldogs' Luke Rixon who comfortably secured his team's seventh win for the season, pushing through the Tigers' defence to score in the seventy-ninth minute.
"I think it was our toughest performance of the year."
The Tigers will face the Tathra Sea Eagles in Round 10, marking the second meet of the season for the two sides.
"[That] game will be a defining moment for our season and we'll be going into the next rounds with confidence."
Group 16 Round 9 at Pambula Beach Sporting Complex Results:
First Grade: Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs def Batemans Bay Tigers 32-22
Reserve Grade: Cooma Stallions def Batemans Bay Tigers 32-14
Under 18s: Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs def Batemans Bay Tigers 54-6
Ladies League Tag: Batemans Bay Tigers def Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs 8-4
See all Group 16 competition results here.