Dora Creek has overcome a sustained attack on their tryline to repel a fired-up Fingal Bay and then score a late try to win a thrilling Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League A-grade match at Fingal Bay Oval on Saturday.
The 24-16 win secured top spot on the competition ladder for the unbeaten Swampies.
It also spoiled the party for the previously unbeaten Fingal Bay who were honouring their Old Boys in front of a big home crowd.
Dora Creek coach David Hoban said it was a resolute defensive effort late in the second half that got the Swampies home.
"With six minutes to go and us leading 18-16, Fingal Bay got a penalty right in front 30 metres out and decided not to take the kick for goal and instead run the ball," Hoban said.
"If you were ever going to see a team roll their sleeves up and be gritty then you saw that from Dora Creek in the final minutes. Fingal Bay had six or seven sets at our line to try and score to win the match, but we just kept turning up for each other when the game was on the line and held them out."
With two minutes remaining on the clock, Dora Creek found the energy to march up field and score the clincher when Brendan Quigg crossed to finish a good shift to the right edge.
Earlier, centre Scott Fitzpatrick, pivot Brad Clark, winger Tom Patullo, and second-rower Quigg had scored tries for Dora Creek.
Fingal Bay led 12-8 at halftime.
"At halftime we spoke about staying composed and patient when we had the ball in good field position," Hoban said.
"We also had a wind at our back and the boys were very positive at halftime knowing what we had to do to grind out a win."
Patullo's try soon after the break was crucial.
"This game had everything. It was two very good footy teams, it was fast, and it was very physical," Hoban said.
Hooker Chris Malborough was outstanding through the middle, and prop Dean Ferris had his best game of the year, Hoban said. Dominic Smith, who was playing his 100th game for the club, was also busy.
Hoban said the tight win was exactly what Dora Creek needed after a couple of blow-out scorelines.
"I think we learnt a lot about ourselves on the weekend as a football team and will definitely take a lot out of that win," he said.
"We have had some pretty easy victories the last few weeks so to see us learn how to tough a game out was the most pleasing part of the win.
"Fingal Bay are a good side and very well coached and we knew we had to play well to beat them."
Dora Creek will host Belmont Souths at Neville Thompson Oval this Saturday, May 18, at 3pm.