The Dubbo District Junior Rugby League under 16s grand final is always one of the more special events on the local sporting calendar.
It brings the curtain down on junior footy careers and is often the last time many mates play together after coming through all the age groups for the best part of a decade.
Saturday night as at Apex Oval was no different, as St John's coach Gerry 'Chicka' Merritt paid tribute to the character of his players after they claimed the title with a 32-10 win over the Nyngan Tigers.
"I've only had them for two years but to achieve what we did and win two grand finals and to mentor these young fellas and young men ... I can't thank them enough," he said.
"They progress out into the real world and keep playing footy or start a career (after this) so to help them progress for the past couple of years has been awesome and it's something I'm very proud of."
While the final margin was 22 points the Tigers made St John's work for the title.
The Dubbo side led 16-10 at half-time and things were firmly in the balance but the consistency of Merritt's players plus their composure late on was key.
The match wasn't without drama and a melee midway through the second half resulted in Nyngan duo Braith Boyd and Joc Doyle and St John's forward Nicholas Frost sent to the sin bin.
But there was no more flare-ups and the final quarter of the game firmly belonged to St John's.
"We're here to play footy and play within the rules and play as hard and tough as you want," Merritt said of the second half drama.
"Sometimes that kind of stuff happens and I encourage them not to get involved in that and I thought they conducted themselves quite well."
They definitely cause some grey hairs along the way but I wouldn't have it any other way.Gerry 'Chicka' Merritt
St John's fullback Will Malloy was named man of the match after scoring one try and proving a handful every time he ran the ball.
There was plenty to like about the St John's performance though but Nyngan did well to contain recently crowned DDJRL International Player of the year Cooper Ferrari.
Hooker Nik Seaton was lively while five-eighth Bailey Lacrosse was strong and his lovelt cut-out ball to winger Alex Jones, who went on to score in fine style while flying along the touchline, was one of the highlights of the first half.
Cooper Ryan scored Nyngan's opener while Aidan Bermingham also crossed and was lively as the Tigers stuck it St John's.
"They stress you out at times and have done for the last couple of years," Merritt said of his side.
"But I know they've always got it in them. It's just a matter of them putting it together.
"They definitely cause some grey hairs along the way but I wouldn't have it any other way."