The SG Ball Sharks were made to work for it, but in the end they were able to open their account in 2022 with a hard-fought 30-22 win over the Melbourne Thuderbolts.
Played in Ballarat as the curtain-raiser to the Storm v Knights NRL trial, the Sharks trailed after a sloppy first half but were able to put together enough good moments in the second period to come away with the points.
After two losses before a round three bye, the win was the Sharks first after a slow start to their 2022 season.
The Melbourne side were first on the board inside the opening five minutes, until Sharks centre Ben Lavender was able to cross, the Jake Hay conversion making it 6-all in the early going.
The Thuderbolts would again go ahead, and once more the Sharks would respond, big outside back Koby Douglas going over and again the teams were level, this time at 12-all.
Taking advantage of the Sharks lack of ball control the Victorian team would again take a lead, a converted try on half time giving them an 18-12 advantage at the break.
From the resumption of play the Sharks stepped up a gear and the Thunderbirds weren't able to match them, a try to Chaz Jarvis put the Cronulla side ahead, Salesi Ataata pushed the lead out further and when front rower Lachlan Crouch scored his team's third four-pointer of the half, with all tries converted by Hay, and the Sharks had a match-winning 30-18 lead.
Victoria would score a consolation try with under five minutes left on the clock but the Sharks had done enough to notch a win and get their season on track.
Kobie Wilson, Sharks captain on the day, detailed the trek to get to Mars Stadium in Ballarat and that while pleased with the win, his team will need to improve their execution if they hope to make an impression on the SG Ball competition.
"It was a long trip, a plane, hour and half bus ride, then about a seven-eight minute walk to the stadium," Wilson said of the lead up to the game.
"We didn't start too well, poor skill, dropping the ball, not completing our sets, not getting to our kicks. We were trying to score on every play," he said of the first half of the match.
Then after trailing at half time, as Wilson explained the second period was somewhat similar, however his team was able to do just enough to claim the points.
"We still couldn't hold the ball, but the boys dug in, did a job and we got the win. And got to sing the song for the first time this year."
The SG Ball Sharks now move onto a fifth round local derby clash with a St George team that has been solid through the opening rounds of the competition.
Salesi Ataata, Chaz Jarvis, Lachlan Crouch, Ben Lavendar, Koby Douglas tries, Jake Hay 5 goals
VIctorian Thunderbolts 22
Lead photo - courtesy Steve Montgomery - ourfootyteam.com