Forbes Magpies found their feet in the later stages of Sunday's Peter McDonald Cup contest to secure a convincing 44-20 win against Wellington Cowboys at Spooner Oval.
But in the early stages of the game the Group 11 sides had traded blow-for-blow, with Nick Greenhalgh's kicking the difference in points.
It was Forbes who drew first blood at Spooner Oval with Country fullback Mitch Andrews crossing 10 minutes into the game.
That spurred the visitors, and number 1 Warren Peachey bagged Wellington's first just a few minutes later.
Zeke Hartwig kicked the ball through for Connor Greenhalgh to score for Forbes, then Timothy Boney-Stewart crossed for Wellington.
Centre Richard Fiu bagged a double to give Forbes a comfortable 24-10 lead as the clock counted down to half time, then Wellington winger Tony Clevin swooped on a loose ball to score right on the buzzer to go to the sheds 24-14.
Forbes coach Cameron Greenhalgh was ruing the lack of possession.
"We only had the ball nine times in the first half which is hardly at all, and the three tries we did score I think were the three sets we completed," he said.
"The rest of it, we couldn't hang onto the ball for the sustained amount of time which you've got to do against Wellington - or they'll make you pay with the points coz they keep coming."
Although it was Cowboys who scored again through Mason Williams in the opening minutes of the second half to bring them within four points of the hosts, from there the Magpies stepped up.
Andrews struck again, Jordan Hartwig and Tongia Fox also added points.
Wellington did put the pressure on, but Forbes' number 16 Alvin Maungatti sealed the deal three minutes out from the final buzzer.
Captain Justin Toomey-White acknowledged it was a disappointing way to go down.
"It was a tough game - we knew that coming to Forbes was going to be tough," he said.
"They're in form and it was a tough game, but not a nice way to lose. We were in that contest for 60 minutes of it."
Letting those three tries in hurt, but the captain was proud of his boys and their efforts.
"We knew we had to start strong, which we did," he said.
"Full credit to Forbes, they've got a good ship over here and we wish them all the best for the season."
Forbes coach Greenhalgh was much happier with the end of the game.
"I think we lifted a bit - we were a lot better defensively and we were a lot better with the ball in our hands and had a bit of running in our feet," he said.
Captain Nick Greenhalgh credited the Cowboys for the game.
"They really turned up to play and we knew that they would," he said.
"We've got plenty to take out of that game - plenty of positives and negatives too."
Lock Jake Hadrill worked all day and the captain gave him full credit.
"He gives 100 per cent every week," Greenhalgh said.
"He's filling in some big shoes but you know what you're going to get.
"He turns up and gets through the 80 minutes - he's pretty impressive.
"Obviously having Mitch (Andrews) out the back, he's also really good, he saved a couple of tries there."
The Magpies have a couple of solid contests coming up and Greenhalgh says his side is nearly at full fitness.
They're on the road to Nyngan this coming weekend, then taking on Parkes in the local derby on the June long weekend.
"That's the one we circle in the calendar," Greenhalgh acknowledged.
"We've got a couple of big games coming up so hopefully we'll be 1-17 fully fit and ready to go."
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