The Kempsey Cannonballs first grade side snapped a three game losing streak, defeating the Port Macquarie Pirates on Saturday, to enter the halfway point of the season with two victories and four losses.
The Cannonballs had lost their three previous meetings by less than seven points and their coach Jared Fuller said it was a relief to hold on in this one.
“It would have been a hard one to swallow if we lost that,” Fuller said.
“We aren’t under any illusions though, we still have heaps of work to do.”
The Pirates opened the scoring through a penalty goal but the Cannonballs hit back immediately through Braden Farrawell who broke a number of tackles to stroll over.
Farrawell was dominant throughout the match, getting involved in everything, including slotting the conversion and a penalty goal to take the lead to 10-3.
The wet conditions made for a tight tussle between the two sides and they exchanged tries heading into half-time with Matt Carter grabbing the five-pointer for the Cannonballs and Farrawell adding the extras for a 17-8 lead at the break.
The Pirates were more energetic to begin the second half and they crossed for a try before holding possession of the ball inside the Cannonballs 22.
The Cannonballs defence held firm throughout the lengthy period and they were able to repel the waves of attack the Pirates threw at their line.
The momentum of the match swung and the Cannonballs made the Pirates pay, with Matt Carter, Matt South and Carl Thurgood all crossing for a try to take a convincing 34-17 lead.
However, the Cannonballs took their foot off the accelerator and allowed the Pirates back into the match in the final 10 minutes.
The Pirates scored two tries to reduce the deficit to 34-29 and the Cannonballs were forced to defend for the final two minutes of the match.
Eventually the Cannonballs forced an error to earn the narrow victory.
“It was disappointing we let them back into the match and because they were within seven points they will get an extra bonus point out of the match,” Fuller said.
“There were plenty of positives to take out of the match though and we just needed that win.”
It was a must-win match for the Cannonballs, who will be hoping the momentum can stick with the side throughout the second half of the season.
17-year-old Tyler Allan received plenty of praise from his coach.
“He was a standout and his decision making and direction in attack laid the foundations for the win,” Fuller said.