A 10 minute slump cost the Dubbo Kangaroos dearly on Saturday as they squandered a 10-point lead to fall to the Cowra Eagles at Victoria Park No 1 Oval.
The Roos knew they would need to muscle up in the forwards to overcome the undefeated Eagles, and muscle up they did.
The sides were locked up at 13-all at half, but the Roos came out firing in the second to lead 23-13 with 20 minutes left on the clock.
But they "went to sleep" for 10 minutes, allowing the Eagles back in and it was former Roo Tim Berry who scored the match-winner with less than five minutes remaining.
Captain Shaun McHugh was pleased despite the scoreline, declaring the Roos were "easily" the better side for 70 minutes of the game.
"Yes I do and that's no disrespect to Cowra. They're a great side and it's always a tussle there but I think if you asked them they'd agree. By far the better team," McHugh said.
"We let ourselves down a bit in that 10 minute period and it shows. It shows on the scoreboard.
"We went to sleep ... and in this competition you can't do it, and against a team that was undefeated until now - still undefeated - you can't do it."
The Roos were the first to get on the board with Josh Howarth making a barnstorming run from 20 metres out to score under the black dot.
The try spurred him on and McHugh credited the Roos' "immense" front row, namely Howarth and Jock Rodgers, for their sheer physicality and playing the full 80 minutes.
"We can build on that," McHugh said.
"They're blokes that are going to be around this club for a long time so hopefully we can keep them here and maintain that for the next few years."
The sides went into the half-time break locked up at 13-apiece, following a leaping try in the corner from flying Eagles winger Navitalai Bola.
Sam Clements and the boot of Hamish Gordon put the Roos 23-13 in front with 20 minutes remaining before a defensive lapse, and the Eagles took full advantage.
Twice they converted repeated pressure into points, first through Jeremy Montgomery.
Then the Eagles overpowered the Roos' scrum, took the ball against the feed and Tim Berry dived over for the points.
But McHugh said there were "plenty of positives" for the "young group".
"That was by far our best performance of the year," he said.
"If we maintain that physical edge, yeah we're really in for a shot this year which is good."
"It's an exciting year this year. There's plenty of teams in with a shot and there's not very much in it, I don't think."
- COWRA EAGLES 27 (Tom Dewhurst, Navitalai Bola, Jeremy Montgomery, Tim Berry tries; Garrizo Gonzarlo penalty goal; Gonzarlo 2 conversions) defeated DUBBO KANGAROOS 23 (Josh Howarth, Sam Clements tries; Hamish Gordon 3 penalty goals; Gordon 2 conversions)