A strong start and a bit of last minute brilliance weren't enough for the Macquarie Raiders to get the better of the top of the ladder Dubbo CYMS when the two home sides met at Apex Oval on Saturday.
Macquarie's Captain-Coach Wes Middleton put the first points on the scoreboard after a penalty goal in the first few minutes gave him an opportunity to put his team up by two.
But the Fishies weren't easily rattled and managed to kick their way out of their own end-zone and back towards the Macquarie try-line where Corey Cox burst across the try-line, and then kicked a perfect conversion, to wrest back the lead early and put CYMS ahead by four.
Both teams settled into an uneasy rhythm, alternating pressure down each other's try-lines in a back and forth affair, before a costly knock-on by the Raider's Moa Kavaefiafi put CYMS right on the Macquarie try-line with possession.
It didn't take long after that for CYMS' captain-coach Jarryn Powyer to set-up a try for fast-moving Jyie Chapman and extend the Fishies lead.
Tempers flared as both teams made costly errors along the CYMS' try-line and the Fishies lost a player after a fight broke moments later.
With fifteen minutes to go in the first half, the Raiders seized the opportunity and put Eroni Turagatautoka across the line, with Middleton kicking the conversion to put the two teams within scoring distance of each other before Corey Cox set up a try for Noah Ryan with a perfectly placed kick and extended the lead once again.
CYMS' Billy Sing broke through the Macquarie line twice in quick succession but was prevented from trying both times by penalties in favour of the Raiders, leaving the score 18 - 8 in CYMS favour at half-time.
The Raiders' repeated their early success in the second half, with Middleton forcing his way across the line seven minutes in and closing the gap to 14 - 18 with a conversion.
With thirty minutes to go it was Alex Ronayne who stepped up; bolting through an opening in the Macquarie defence and giving Corey Cox another opportunity to convert.
The situaton on-field turned from bad to worse for the Raiders, who were kept in their end-zone thanks to the kicking game of Sing and Jyie Chapman, then lost Eroni Turagatautoka to injury before Chapman was able to put another kick through for Nick Karydis to capitalise on.
"It's just that spur of the moment sort of stuff," Jyie Chapman said of his improvised kicking game.
"You get the ball and you got a little bit of space, so you play with it funny and just sort of go with it."
Cox wasn't able to convert that try, but Viliame Turuva and Tom Yeo both powered across the line and gave him two more chances to turn four points into six, giving the Fishies a 40 - 12 lead with just three minutes to go.
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With little hope of gaining back the lead, the Raiders till managed an inspired, last-minute turn, with Middleton pushing through a line of defenders and then converting his own try to make it 18 - 40 with barely a minute left.
With barely thirty seconds to work, the team of Filisione Pauta and Moa Kavaefiafi smashed their way through an unexpecting CYMS line on the first run after the game's last kick off and scored a stunning consolation prize in the final moments.
"We just planned that quickly right before that," Kavaefiafi said of the bit of inspired strategy.
"We had a feeling they weren't going to rush up as much around the edges because the timer was so low, so we were able to get past thanks to that."
The overall result will afford CYMS a comfortable points lead over everyone bar Wellington at the top of the ladder and see them in good stead heading into the end of the season, while Macquarie will have to dig deep in the coming weeks to ensure they keep their fourth place spot.
"I think everyone had a solid game today," Chapman said of his team's winning effort.
"Every player had a great game, I don't think there was any single standout, having twelve players on the field, we really needed everyone to step up and they all did, my hat's off to all the boys."
DUBBO CYMS 40 (Corey Cox try, 6 conversions, Tom Yeo try, Jyie Chapman try, Noah Ryan try, Alex Ronayne try, Nick Karydis try, Viliame Turuva try) def. MACQUARIE RAIDERS 24 (Wes Middleton 2 tries, 3 conversions, penalty goal, Eroni Turagatautoka try, Moa Kavaefiafi try).