It was a Dubbo CYMS victory which moved the side within one win of a place in this season's Peter McDonald Premiership grand final, but it was a performance which made coach Shawn Townsend throw his clipboard.
The Fishies were far from their best at Apex Oval on Sunday but they were still good enough to score a 28-6 win over Orange Hawks in the opening week of the finals.
The win moves the Group 11 minor premiers through to the preliminary final, where they will meet the winner of next weekend's clash between Parkes and Wellington.
Whoever they take on, CYMS are all too aware they need to be better.
Some elite defence, the smarts of Alex Bonham, and the inability of Hawks to capitalise on their opportunities made the difference on Sunday.
As has been the case all season, Bonham was hugely influential from dummyhalf.
He kicked early and he kicked well in the first half when CYMS was camped inside its own half, while he pulled off a number of rattling hits in defence and also scored the try which helped make it 22-6 in the second half and put his side in complete control.
The performance led to more high praise from Townsend.
"He's calm but he's explosive and he's smart and tough," the coach said.
"He's a good footballer. I just love how he's nice and calm and when he kicks the ball you hear the thud come off it and it's 10 metres further than anyone else and it gets there quicker.
"It's the same as when he passes it. The passes are flatter and harder and out in front, he's got such a great temperament.
"It's a good combination to have, to be relaxed but also a competitive animal."
For Bonham, he was simply looking forward to the next task for he and his side.
"Everyone is pretty up but we've got to work hard the next couple of weeks," the hooker said.
"We know how hard it can be this time when you're watching games and seeing who you're playing but we'll just worry about getting through this week and getting a few boys fresh so we can get a full side on the field and we'll go from there."
CYMS was forced into changes for Sunday as Billy Sing was ruled out through injury and Jayden Merritt had to withdraw on game day due for family reasons.
It was the first sign things weren't going to plan for the Fishies.
In the first half Jeremy Thurtston uncharacteristically spilled a bomb and fumbled the ball in his own in-goal and that summed things up as the hosts invited pressure.
Thankfully for CYMS, Bonham was there to get them out of trouble and the defence held firm when Hawks did get within range.
"Kicking early was the key for us," Bonham said.
"Especially when we started a bit slow and defended a lot early in that first half.
"Just getting that nice kick away to get the pressure off us and make them work out of their half is what we're looking for, whether that's me or Claude (Gordon) or Jordi (Madden). It's important."
For all their ball, Hawks - without star fullback Ryan Manning due a head knock suffered a week prior - couldn't capitalise though and when CYMS got the rare chance in attack they took it through tries for Madden and a hard-running Jarryn Powyer.
Hawks finally got on the board right on half-time via Jye Barrow crashing over from close range but coach Shane Rodney admitted his side could have done more in the opening 40.
"We had some chances and probably didn't capitalise enough early on when we did have possession, which we'll have to learn from, because they're a quality team and we knew coming here we'd have to do things pretty right to be a chance," the coach and former NRL premiership winner said.
"It's certainly a good lesson."
CYMS still weren't perfect in the second half - coach Townsend was visibly frustrated at times - but they did what they needed to, with long range tries for Thurston and Bonham helping while Mitch Cleary also got on the scoresheet late on.
"It's definitely pleasing. Our defence was where we want it to be ... that was spot on," Bonham said of the result.
Rodney added Manning was "definitely missed" but added the absence of the young gun who scored 30 points on his own in a recent win over Orange CYMS "wasn't the difference in the game".
"CYMS were too good and we were poor in some areas but he'll definitely be a welcome addition next week," the coach said.
Hawks will host Bathurst Panthers next weekend, with the winner of that one to take on the Mudgee Dragons in the other preliminary final.
- DUBBO CYMS 28 (Jordi Madden, Jarryn Powyer, Jeremy Thurston, Alex Bonham, Mitch Cleary tries; Thurston 4 goals) defeated ORANGE HAWKS 6 (Jye Barrow try, Ben French goal).