Hastings Valley had to rely on a missed conversion after fulltime to make it seven-straight Upper Mid North Coast Rugby Union victories to start the 2022 season.
The Vikings were pushed all the way by a gallant Port Macquarie Pirates who had to succumb 33-31 after fly-half Hugh Parsons' shot at goal waved away following Jack Maunder's last-gasp try.
The competition leaders didn't have it all their own way and had to dig deep at various stages throughout an entertaining, end-to-end fixture.
They played a quarter of the match down a man after captain Lyndon Gale was yellow carded in the first half before coach Hamish Mccormack sat out the final six minutes of the contest.
Pirates coach Cameron Gray lamented a disappointing performance in the scrum and at the lineout which ultimately cost them the game.
But he remained proud of the effort of his team.
"I told the boys we took them to the edge," Gray said.
"We took them to the precipice, but when you're used to winning you find ways to win. Granted it was a missed kick that robbed us of a draw.
Gray acknowledged there was no lack of effort, but it was their technical deficiencies in key areas and at key moments that ultimately cost them.
"I felt like we had enough ball to win the game, we just weren't good enough," he said.
"Clearly our scrum and lineout needs a lot of work, but we're working. We've got some good people there working to fix those areas.
"We were in it for long periods and we couldn't capitalise when we had the ascendancy and they're a good team. They towelled us up in those key areas.
"They've been a good team for a decade so that's why they win those close games."
Tom Currey, Rhys Martin and Andrew Boyce led the way for a Pirates team who will grow in confidence from challenging their cross-town rivals.
They just know they have to be better.
"I haven't seen the Vikings before, but now I've got a taste of it I know what to expect in the next two games - hopefully four more games (including finals)," Gray said.
"If we're good enough we'll play them in the grand final. If we're not, it'll just be three games."
The Vikings led 19-12 at the break before they found themselves behind 26-19 when the hosts scored two tries in 15 minutes at the start of the second half.
Coach Mccormack said it was pleasing they didn't panic when Pirates hit the front although the Vikings made it difficult for themselves after being penalised heavily throughout the match.
"A lot of the penalties were because we were playing a lot of back foot footy and looking for a shortcut rather than sticking to what we want to do," he said.
"Local derbies should be like that, so we know how hungry [Pirates] will be after getting so close today.
"We've got to make sure that we're ready come this time in however many weeks when we see each other again."
Forward Agapei Eukaliti was arguably Hastings Valley's best.
"Aggie was huge today; he scored a try, was massive in our lineouts along with attack and in defence. I don't think there was anyone that was close to him," Mccormack said.
Mccormack played down the seven-straight wins.
"I try not to look at those things yet. The main goal is really to see if you can host that major semi and then we all know the footy comp starts again when the semis start," he said.
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