Thirlmere Roosters have held off a fast-finishing Mittagong Lions outfit 36-26 in Round 5 of Group 6 Rugby League on Sunday afternoon at Thirlmere Sportsground.
The Roosters were dominant in the first half, skipping out to a 30-0 lead, before the Lions mounted a comeback, which eventually fell short, and would leave both coaches frustrated by the performance.
Thirlmere didn't wait long to open the scoring, with five-eighth Dayne Craig opening the account on four minutes, helping the home fans find their voice early on.
Shortly after, Jacob Loko crashed over from close range, extending the lead to 12-0, and the signs were ominous for the Lions supporters.
Jake Mullaney added his name to the list on 20 minutes, with a slashing solo try, leaving several Mittagong players in his wake, as the Roosters headed on their merry way to a 24-0 lead.
Josh Bryant scored on the stroke of halftime to extend the lead to 30-0 and it appeared as though it would be a case of how far for the Roosters.
Dan Beardshaw must have worked some magic in the Mittagong rooms at the break, as the Lions came out firing early after the break. Geoff McKeown scored just after play began, giving Mittagong some hope, despite a 30-6 scoreline against them.
Rory MacDonald, who scored a double in the half off the bench, got his first 12 minutes into the second term, and at 30-10, with plenty of time remaining, Mittagong was gaining some momentum.
Thirlmere scored their final try at the hour mark, when Josh Bryant scores his second of the day. Nobody was willing to say Thirlmere was home at 36-10, but it looked good for the home fans the longer the game went.
MacDonald got his second try of the day with 15 minutes left, and there was plenty of tension around Thirlmere Sportsground, as the Roosters' fans became a little worried and Lions' fans grew in hope.
PJ Thornton, who was damaging for the majority of the day in the second row, scored an easy try minutes later, and at 36-22, the home fans became even more restless and concerned.
Ben Powell added his name to the scoring sheet with six minutes left, and at 36-26, both sets of fans began looking at the scoreboard, and clock, to see who could claim the points.
Thirlmere did enough in the final minutes to get the win, although captain/coach Jake Mullaney and assistant David Greene would have been relieved more than anything at the final siren.
Greene, speaking after the game, agreed the match had been a 'game of two halves', and would know they would need to improve ahead of next week's home match with Moss Vale.
Mittagong's coach Dan Beardshaw would have been impressed with the effort in the second half, but would want more from his side in defence, especially after leaking 30 points in the opening 40 minutes.
The other Round 5 results saw The Oaks defeat Narellan 30-16 at Crane Oval, Camden defeated Moss Vale 26-8 at Community Oval, and Oakdale have come from behind to defeat Campbelltown City 24-22 at Sid Sharpe Oval.