PORT Macquarie Sharks kept their Group 3 finals hopes alive with a commanding 20-4 victory over Wauchope on Saturday.
Two weeks ago, the Sharks season was teetering on the brink of disaster after a disappointing 26-24 defeat to last-placed Old Bar saw them slip out of the top five.
But their four-tries-to-one victory over the third-placed Blues saw them jump back into finals contention at the expense of Port City who dropped to sixth.
Sharks coach Ben Kirkland labelled it as their most satisfying win of the season.
"There were times in that game where it was close where during the year we probably would have just packed up shop and they would have beat us," he said.
"I was really happy with our attitude, but I wasn't happy with the amount of dropped ball although our attitude was good enough in defence to stop any threat of theirs."
The Sharks had added incentive to get the job done on a day where James Kelly celebrated his 100th game for the club.
Second-rower Scott Grant was arguably Port Macquarie's best although teenagers Josh Dwyer and Oli Nosworthy were also strong.
The young guns are now figuring out what it takes to be a first grader and as a result, their finals destiny is back in their own hands.
Next week's trip to Forster could well determine the final spot in the top five with Port City set to face Taree City (last) and Old Bar (second-last) in the final two rounds.
"Hopefully we can keep winning because (the youngsters) deserve a crack at the finals and it would be nice to get them there," Kirkland said.
"To me it feels like the boys have got a bit of belief now.
"We've knocked off one of the top sides, so it's like we can do it again next week and then again the week after.
"It's on the shoulders of myself and Joey, Kel and Scotty Grant to lead the way.
"If we're not doing that, the young fellas are not going to follow, so the pressure's not all on them, it's on us and we've got to be consistent too."
Kirkland admitted consistency had been the Sharks biggest challenge this season.
"We haven't been consistent, but if we're going to go to the finals and deep into it, we've got to play six weeks of consistent footy to get to the big one."
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