The Forbes Magpies showed why they're the Group 11 defending premiers on Sunday with a dominant 40-6 win over Macquarie Raiders at Apex Oval.
The Raiders were strong in the opening 25 minutes and were the first to score through a thundering Colt Ure.
But a star turn from the Magpies' young hooker Jaiden Burke and centre Ethan Gaffney helped Forbes take half 10-6, before scoring another 30 unanswered points to seal the victory.
"It was a bit scrappy there to start the first half when we had the wind against us but the second half we turned it around and held onto a bit more ball and completed a bit more sets," Forbes skipper Hayden Bolam said.
"If we can hold on and complete sets we'll be alright. Our defence is good enough.
"Jayden Burke our hooker, he was probably our best player today. He just held the middle tight and in his attack he just got out and worked hard."
The Magpies were indeed "scrappy" in the opening 20 minutes, looking to spread the ball wide on multiple occasions but failing to execute with forward passes or players over-running the ball.
The hosts eventually capitalised with Ure muscling his way over from close range, and Boche Satrick added the extras.
But the Magpies persisted down the left edge and eventually Gaffney scored - twice.
The Raiders had a chance late in the half as Dalton Medcalfe beat Forbes fullback Bailey Hartwig to a Wes Middleton grubber kick that Hartwig had tried to shield over the dead ball line.
But the referee ruled Medcalfe had knocked the ball on, disallowing Brodie Ford's subsequent grounding.
The 50-50 call proved significant, as the Raiders trailed Forbes at the break and failed to fire in the second half.
Brydon Ramien, Burke, Jordan Hartwig, Burke again and finally Kristian Markwort all crossed in the second half as the Magpies capitalised on many of the Raiders' errors.
Ure, Medcalfe and Aaron Daniel were standouts for the Raiders, but Kane McDermott admitted "we didn't really get an opportunity for our players to go well because we didn't have the ball."
FT: The 2nd half was all Forbes with the defending premiers prevailing 40-6. Skipper Hayden Bolam very pleased with the intensity but knows they need to handle the ball better going forward. Stay tuned to see what Wes Middleton has to say about the Raiders' performance #Group11— Jennifer Hoar (@JenniferHoar) May 5, 2019
"All I remember of the game was just defence, defence, tackling so it's hard to win a game without the ball," the hooker said.
"We did have heaps of good signs ... The first 10, 15 minutes we were looking good, we were completing sets, we got down there and then we just had three errors in a row and it just went on from there.
"Error. Tried to make half a break and then error, error, error and it just continued from that."
It was a particularly tough day for Raiders captain-coach Wes Middleton and winger Willie Middleton Snr as they mourned the passing of godfather and brother-in-law Ken Knight, with a minutes' silence held before the game.
"When something like that happens you're not yourself [but] ... you wouldn't even have picked it," McDermott said. "[Wes] stood up even though he's having a hard time, he's still turned up and done his job."