There will be some sore bodies for the next seven days after Port City and Forster-Tuncurry fought out a brutal 18-all Group 3 rugby league draw in Port Macquarie on Saturday (July 30).
Hawks fullback Byran Stewart and lock forward Nathan Swain both left the field at various stages to have injuries assessed while hooker Riley Glover also received some physical contact at times.
The Breakers weren't without their own problems after winger Corey Lewis left the field with 14 minutes remaining due to a left shoulder injury while Jesse Douglas nursed a left ankle complaint through to fulltime.
Teenage prop Tyrese Dungay had to have a dislocated finger popped back into place in the first half.
But despite all the adversity the Breakers thought they had stolen victory when fullback Cody Robbins put them in front for the first time in the 68th minute.
Hawks halfback Adrian Davis then levelled the scores with a 75th minute penalty goal after Glover slipped just before he hit the defensive line, but was contacted in the head.
Davis then had an opportunity to steal all two competition points in the 80th minute, but his attempted field goal from 20 metres out waved away to the right.
Hawks captain-coach Nathan Campbell admitted the draw felt like a win for his side who were undermanned from the kick-off.
"We were light on troops to begin with and then we went down to one on the bench early, so it's a huge effort from our middles and it's Port City, they're the cream of the crop," he said.
"You've got to dig in and it's good to see where we're at. They're a great yardstick."
Second-rower Daniel Benson was among the Hawks best although hooker Riley Glover along with Davis were also strong.
Campbell said he was pleased with how the Hawks fought their way back into the contest after Robbins had put the Breakers into the lead in the shadows of full-time.
"To dig ourselves out of that hole and get back in the arm wrestle in the last 10 minutes was a huge character-building moment," he said.
"It's easy to show resilience against a lesser-placed team, but fingers crossed that's a grand final preview so it's definitely confidence-boosting."
If the physicality shown for the 80 minutes proves to be a grand final preview on September 17 no-one would leave disappointed.
"When it comes to September and time to rock and roll we know we can match it with these teams," Campbell said.
Breakers captain-coach Richie Roberts had no complaints about the draw or the 75th minute penalty that was awarded against his side for high contact on Glover.
But he did admit his team gave away too many piggy-back penalties to the Hawks and it was starting to become a problem.
"Penalties at crucial times tend to kill us," he said.
"We tend to give away a penalty and give teams back-to-back sets and that's when they get a roll on and put points on. We've got to work on our discipline."
The Hawks jumped out to a 10-0 lead early after tries to Davis and Glover before the Breakers had any opportunities to build pressure.
They only had three tackles in the Hawks 20-metre zone in the opening 20 minutes where they came up with errors on two of those occasions.
Roberts acknowledged Port City had to get back to basics.
"We need to play simple footy and play old-school footy; kick, chase and tackle hard is what we've got to go back to," he said.
"To give a 10-point start away to a side like Forster... we were coming from behind all game, but we did well to get back into it."
First grade: Port City Breakers 18 (tries: Richie Roberts, Aston Pollard, Cody Robbins; goals: Cuban Piper 3/3) drew with Forster-Tuncurry Hawks 18 (tries: Adrian Davis, Riley Glover, Anthony Kerwin; goals: Adrian Davis 3/4, field goals; Adrian Davis 0/1)
Reserve grade: Port City Breakers 24 defeated Forster-Tuncurry Hawks 16
Under-18s: Port City Breakers 56 defeated Forster-Tuncurry Hawks 0
Ladies league tag: Port City Breakers 46 defeated Forster-Tuncurry Hawks 6
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