Dubbo CYMS' search for the "perfect game" goes on but the men in green and white were still good enough when it mattered on Sunday, downing the Forbes Magpies in a close-fought but scrappy encounter.
Both the Fishies and Magpies struggled for consistency at times but CYMS, on the back of strong showings from halves Tom Yeo and Alex Bonham, took control late in the first half and then produced some desperate defence in the final stages to win 20-16.
The victory, combined with Wellington's two point loss at Nyngan, means the Jarryn Powyer-coached CYMS is now four points clear of the second-placed Cowboys and in control of the Group 11 minor premiership race with just three rounds remaining.
But, as is often always the case with CYMS, the biggest motivation late in the season is coming from within.
"We're in a good place but we still haven't played that perfect game Jarryn wants us to play," Yeo said after Sunday's win at Apex Oval.
"Knowing that is still out there for us, that's something to work towards."
Both sides were hampered by dramas just before kick-off, as CYMS lost prop Ainsley Coxsedge to a cork in the warm-up while Forbes fullback Jesse Wighton failed to show for the game.
That, and the sheer number of injuries in both squads, meant there was a lack of cohesion early and some lapses in defence saw the scores locked at 12-all after 22 action-packed minutes.
CYMS started to tighten things up and after Bonham produced an inch-perfect kick to force a Forbes dropout, Corey Cox barged over to ensure the Fishies went into the half-time break up by four.
A bit of razzle-dazzle footy, and a couple of contentious passes, 10 minutes into the second stanza resulted in a try for Powyer but Forbes held the ball long enough to hit back through Kristian Markwort after some smart work from captain and dummyhalf Hayden Bolam.
From there the Magpies struggled to complete sets again and things went from bad to worse when Tongia Fox was sent off.
The back-rower first clobbered CYMS youngster Harry Krueger high and in the first tackle following the penalty he hit Corey Cox high as well, leading to a brief flare-up between the two before referee Willy Barnes gave Fox his marching orders.
CYMS couldn't fail the extra man count in late in the contest and then the Magpies earned themselves one last chance inside the final minute.
But a willingness from the CYMS players to get in and do the work saw them hold out the Magpies, force yet another error, and claim the points.
"It was a little bit scrappy and we were gassed early, we had to do a lot of defence and that catches up with you," Yeo said.
"We didn't have as much of the ball as they did but that was our own fault with errors and penalties late in the count. That discipline is something we've worked on all year and we've got to get it better."
For Forbes, it was more of the same.
The defending premiers have struggled for consistency all season, largely due to injuries and availability issues, while errors continue to hamper their progress.
"There was injuries, a send off, some disruptions before the game but we held in there and finished strong but our errors killed us," Bolam said.
"The mistakes, we just can't hold the ball. Especially on our own line, it just comes down to discipline."
We've just got to get better.Forbes captain Hayden Bolam
The Magpies are now only in the top five on four and against after both Nyngan and Parkes won and Macquarie received a forfeit from Westside.
"We're just not playing for the full 80 minutes," Bolam said, before adding confidence remained in the squad.
"They (CYMS) are one of the top sides in the competition so we know we can stick it to them. We went close.
"We've just got to get better."
Bolam was among his sides best, as was hard-working prop Tim Dukes and first half try-scorers Richard Fui and Viliami Kaufusi.
For CYMS, Alex Ronayne again worked himself into the ground while fullback Byron Warren contributed constant talk and a number of strong runs from the back.
- DUBBO CYMS 20 (Alex Ronayne, Billy Sing, Corey Cox, Jarryn Powyer tries; Cox 2 goals) defeated FORBES MAGPIES 16 (Viliami Kaufusi, Richard Fui, Kristian Markwort tries; Thomas Toohey 2 goals)