PORT Macquarie saved arguably their best performance for last on the way to claiming the association's first-ever NSW State Cup men's 20s touch football title on Sunday.
The Makos were almost perfect in an 8-1 hammering of Orange, but they almost didn't progress past a quarter-final clash with arch-rivals Manly.
With less than five seconds to go, the Makos held a 5-4 lead only to watch on helplessly as the Sea Eagles levelled after the siren to take the game into an extra-time drop-off.
They then had to defend for the opening set of the extra-time period before they scored in their first set.
A heartstopping 7-6 victory over Central Coast in the semi-finals saw them progress to their first men's 20s grand final in several years.
The rest is history.
Co-captain Brent Nixon said the victory in the final was the culmination of many years of hard work.
"It's unbelievable; these boys have been grinding for four years and we finally got what we deserve," he said.
Six weeks ago, the Makos were beaten in the Country Championships final at Tuggerah and Nixon admitted that defeat had provided the motivation for their State Cup campaign.
"We didn't quite believe in ourselves before then and then down there we really showed that we could play," he said.
"We fell short and we weren't happy with that. We're not happy with silver medals, we've got to win it. It's as simple as that."
Nixon said it was satisfying to have achieved the success under the guidance of coach Peter Vincent.
"Vinno is unbelievable; he's like a second father to me, he's taken me under his wing for a long time," he said.
"I've been playing touch for a fairly long time and this is the first grand final I've been in for State Cup so it's unbelievable.
We fell short and we weren't happy with that. We're not happy with silver medals, we've got to win it. It's as simple as that.Brent Nixon
"I'm just glad we got the chocolates for him."
Vincent said his team were forced to change the way they defended following a 7-4 defeat to Orange in the pool games on Friday.
The change proved to be a masterstroke.
"We frustrated them, but our running game tired them out a lot because they were coming from their end all the time so they couldn't get many hits on us," he said.
"We worked hard on our completions and in the final we were pretty spot on."
Vincent said Nixon was one of many talented players in the side and he was hopeful they would stay together in coming years.
"I've worked with Brent since he was in the under-16s and he's a very special player," he said.
"I'm mentoring him as a coach now as well and he can go a long way; he's got a lot of talent, a lot of knowledge and like the rest of the boys they're all good kids.
"It's a great culture in this side."
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