The excitement and tension was palpable as the Dubbo College and Dennison College clash got underway at the end of a long day of athletic and educational competition.
Dubbo College had put themselves up on the overall tallyboard earlier in the day and sought to cement that with a firm win in the customary Rugby League match.
A screaming, singing crowd of Dubbo College school children welcomed Bathurst and their own supporters to the Apex Oval with an intimidating drum-beat and performances from their mascots.
All the passion and intensity that the Astley Cup demands inspired Dubbo to a winning effort in what was at times a messy, but enthusiastic affair and a fitting close to day one of 2019's competition.
"The effort and passion from both sides was obviously there," Dubbo College coach Craig May said.
The black and red army started strong in the game's early goings and set a frenetic pace that the Dennison college struggled to keep up with, before wrestling back momentum and pressing all the way to the try-line.
Bathurst placed a beautiful kick across the line that they weren't able to convert into a try after sliding across the line into touch.
As soon as they regained possession Dubbo got the ball moving again in quick fashion, nearly reversing the positions with a single run that put Bathurst on the back foot and backed up against their own try-line.
Dubbo's Harry Kreuger got the ball next and out-manoeuvred Bathurst's defenders to put the first points on the board 13 minutes in.
There wasn't much time for Bathurst to get situated before the two sides traded possession once again and Dubbo's Colby Peckham used some fast feet and slick moves to slip through Bathurst's defence and bring the score to 8 - 0 in Dubbo's favour with ten minutes to go.
A conversion later and Dubbo led by ten heading into the closing minutes of the first half.
"Harry Kreuger and Colby Peckham, they played basically the whole of the game; Kreuger just goes forward, he does the simple things right and he's always there," May said.
"Colby leads form the front, he's always passionate about his school and passionate about playing for his school, which is good."
"All around the boys put in, but Kreuger and Peckham, I was very happy with them."
The first half went down to the final minute with Bathurst still looking for opportunities to score before they managed to keep the ball moving long enough to out-flank Dubbo's defence and put their first four points on the board, with a conversion following the halftime horn and taking it to 10 - 6.
"They're a quality side," May said of the defending cup-holders.
"You've got the NSW under 18 halfback in their side, you've got a kid that plays SG football in [Brad] Fearnley, then you have the NSW Country lock."
"They play with a lot of passion every year we play football, you can see in the last three or four games we've played against Bathurst , there's nothing in it."
"They play with a lot of passion and intensity."
That passion and intensity saw the Bathurst side get off to a strong start early, but saw errors begin to creep into their efforts that gave Dubbo the opportunity to score, with a lightning fast, somersaulting try dragging the lead out to 14 -6 in favour of Dubbo early in the second half.
That intensity kept both sides defensive efforts on point in the second half, but with errors costing both teams opportunities to make progress along the field before Bathurst were finally able to break through and close the gap with six minutes to go, leaving it at 14 - 10.
In the dying minutes of the game, it was Dubbo's Jayden Blake broke through and planted another try, bringing it to 18 - 10 before the final horn sounded.
"It's always good to win an Astley Cup game," May said.