The Engadine Dragons have scored a 30-10 win over the Como Crocodiles in a passionate NRL curtain-raiser at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Local fans turned out in good numbers for the Cronulla-Sutherland Junior League Open Gold Division clash on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the Shire and were rewarded with an enthralling game of rugby league.
Both sides fought hard to gain the ascendency in a bruising opening period, but it was Engadine that broke the deadlock after 15 minutes when centre Scott Allen scored after a beautiful flick pass from his second-rower.
Five-eighth Jarrad Fitzgerald's conversion attempt hit the woodwork and bounced away, the score remaining 4-0 in the Dragons' favour.
The grind continued when play restarted, a succession of penalties and handling errors causing the coaches headaches. Committed defence was on full display, however, producing some brutal contact.
With five minutes left in the half, Engadine again snapped the scoring drought through hooker Jye Bowen. On the back of a repeat set, Bowen caught the markers unawares and scampered across the line from close range.
Fitzgerald added the extras from next to the posts and Engadine carried a 10-point advantage into the break.
Whatever Como coaches Sam Isemonger and Mark Lennon said at halftime clearly worked, the Crocodiles coming out firing in the second stanza. Prop Fine Kula made a barnstorming bust to drag his team deep into enemy territory before winger Daniel Falconbridge finished off a deft grubber kick from halfback Dom Wallace.
Falconbridge couldn't convert his own four-pointer from out wide but the margin was back to a converted try at 10-4.
The Dragons managed to wrestle back momentum and soon extended their buffer to eight with a Fitzgerald penalty goal from right in front.
Engadine was better composed after tempers frayed in a push and shove, fullback Matt Stubbs touching down off a grubber just millimetres inside the dead ball-line. Fitzgerald was again successful with the kick and the Dragons were out to a commanding 14-point lead.
Another converted try to Engadine minutes later seemingly put the result beyond doubt at 24-4. Como refused to roll over, with lock Ryan Archer crashing over to keep the scoreline respectable.
With one minute remaining, a spectacular try to winger Jonah Ngotonoa capped off a solid victory for the Dragons.
While Engadine proved too strong for Como on the day, the match was a fantastic advertisement for the quality of A-Grade football in the local district.
ENGADINE DRAGONS 30
Matthew Stubbs 2, Jye Bowen, Scott Allen, Jonah Ngoronoa tries, Jarrad Fitzgerald 5 goals
COMO CROCODILES 10
Daniel Falconbridge, Ryan Archer tries, Falconbridge goal