Midway through the second half of Saturday's Peter McDonald Premiership clash between Mudgee and Dubbo CYMS, it was all about the Dragons.
CYMS led by 12 points but penalties and errors from those in green and white led to repeat set after repeat set for the hosts.
Despite Mudgee dominating the ball and being camped inside the CYMS 20-metre zone for more than 10 minutes, the defence of the Dubbo side held firm in one of the most gutsy passages of play seen in the competition this season.
"I don't think we've ever defended so much," CYMS captain and prop Jarryn Powyer said at full-time.
"I'm very proud. The attitude was there and that's what we're known for. It wasn't always pretty but we kept showing up and I don't know how many sets we defended on our line.
"I don't really care too much about the result at this time, it's about attitude and that's the best test we've had since this game last year."
Mudgee would eventually break through via a scrappy Tom Lawson try to set-up a grandstand finish, but CYMS finished 18-12 victors in a top-of-the-table match that lived up to all the hype.
The entire second half was edge of the seat stuff, as the Dragons threw everything at the Group 11 pool leaders while there was plenty of drama via a bombed Mudgee try, an allegation of biting against a CYMS player, and a couple of scuffles.
But it was those who have been there and done it for so many years for CYMS - namely Powyer who was immense up front in the bruising content - who got CYMS over the line.
Fellow prop Ben Marlin also got through plenty of work while Alex Bonham's craft, direction and few timely kicks out of danger from hooker also had a huge impact on the result.
"Honestly, I think it comes from being with the same group for so many years," Powyer said, he being one of five players in the side who has been playing first grade for more than 10 years.
"We had some great leaders when we all started here and now you're with the same group and you keep showing up.
"Tough pre-seasons always get you there but it's a lot about attitude and I know that doesn't always happen at other clubs."
CYMS beat Mudgee twice in the inaugural PMP last season but both occasions were at Dubbo.
It looked like CYMS had something to prove early on at Glen Willow on Saturday as tries for Ben Marlin, Jyie Chapman and Corey Drew got them out to a 14-0 lead inside half an hour.
The first 30 minutes was fantastic from CYMS and while they got sloppy just before half-time, the defence stayed resolute in a sign of things to come.
Mudgee lost five-eighth Hayden Carpenter to injury at training on Friday night, forcing a reshuffle with Jack Littlejohn returning to the halves and Jayden Brown shifting to fullback, and while they were a little clunky early they came out firing in the second stanza.
A hard-running Nathan Orr crossed inside two minutes of the restart and the Dragons went close again before some outstanding second-phase play and spreading of the ball - the kind of play CYMS coach Shawn Townsend wants to see - led to CYMS hitting back via winger Ratu Roko.
Then came Mudgee's period of dominance, made more dramatic by Orr's claim he was bitten in a tackle involving Chapman and Claude Gordon, while Jake Durrant should have scored when he collected a short Jeremy Thurston drop-out only to drop the ball over the line.
Other than that, it was all about CYMS' defence while the only downside was a knee injury to PMP leading try-scorer Thurston late on.
Mudgee has injury concerns of their own as centre Corin Smith departed the match with a knee injury early in the second half.
"I think everyone was up for the occasion today and, truthfully, Mudgee was probably unlucky not to get over a couple of times," Powyer said.
"There were some simple skill errors there when they were attacking and I'm sure they'll look at that and be better next time we play them."
Mudgee captain Jack Beasley said exactly that, lamenting the side's inability to score during the period of extended possession.
"It's just that final polish," he said.
"Once we get that right, I think we'll be right. I think our defence is fine and I'm really confident in that but it's about getting that last pass.
"We were probably crabbing across (the field) a lot and they were just matching it. As soon as we start squaring up, I think we'll be a lot better side."
- DUBBO CYMS 18 (Ben Marlin, Jyie Chapman, Corey Drew, Ratu Roko tries; Jeremy Thurston goal) defeated MUDGEE DRAGONS 12 (Nathan Orr, Tom Lawson tries; James Goonrey 2 goals)
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