Charlie Lennon and Coopa Martin bagged a double apiece as Forbes Magpies stepped up in the second half to win against Orange Hawks in Sunday's Peter McDonald Premiership match.
The crossover Group 11 v Group 10 game marked a return to the home ground for the Magpies, who have been on the road for weeks with mixed results.
And coach Cameron Greenhalgh couldn't have been happier watching the strategy and the work put in on the training paddock put into practice with good effect.
The first half was a close contest, the scoreboard reading 10-6 with both sides having done plenty of work.
"I thought Orange were really good: they came to play first half and they didn't make any errors and we had a couple," Greenhalgh said.
Hawks coach Shane Rodney agreed.
"The first half was quite physical, there wasn't a lot of errors, and I think both teams were a bit out on their feet at half time," he said.
The Hawks were first to score when Ben Blimka caught the ball from the kick and dived through the Magpies' defence.
Marika Turagaiviu did the same to open up a 10-nil advantage before the Magpies got Toby Hurford over the line for the 10-6 half time score.
Influential Magpie Jake Grace was sent for 10 minutes late in the first half, but this week it didn't result in a collapse from his side.
"One of the turning points was having Gracey in the bin for 10 minutes and defending on the line with 12 men," Greenhalgh said post-game.
"I'm really happy with their effort."
Had the Hawks added another six points, the hosts' job in reeling them in would have been that much harder.
Forbes didn't hesitate in stating their intentions in the second half, with Charlie Lennon the first over the try-line in the opening minutes.
Coopa Martin seized the ball from the kick to dive over in the corner to take it out to 18-10 in the first of his two tries.
The Hawks gave the Magpies plenty of work to do in defence, but it was Forbes adding points with Lennan and Martin each taking a second try, Mitch Andrews crossing in the corner and Nick Greenhalgh on point with his kicking to add the extras every time.
The Magpies were ahead 36-10 with just five minutes on the clock and the Hawks dug deep to score in the corner for a final score of 36-14.
For Greenhalgh, the Magpies' performance was a pleasing sign ahead of Forbes' big contest against Parkes Spacemen this weekend, and rolling into semi-finals.
"I said before the game defence was probably going to be the key to winning this game - and be really solid in defence - and our attack will come," Greenhalgh said.
"We needed to just be patient ... with our tries in the end which is what we do at training and that's what's getting us points.
"That's what we need to be doing leading into the semis in a couple of weeks - doing what we do at training."
Lennon certainly made an impression as a player to watch.
"Charlie Lennon - he's a big in for us, he's playing down in Sydney earlier on and he's come home just a little while to get back to his roots," Greenhalgh said.
"He was really good. He's a strong runner, he's got all the skills and you can tell by the way he plays he's got that bit of high-level coaching."
But he lauded the Magpies' whole-team effort.
"We said we needed to be good as a 17 - not three or four play good and hope to get away with a win because it won't happen," he said.
The result was disappointing for the Hawks, who have taken four in a row and wanted this to keep their slim finals hopes alive.
"They're a quality side, Forbes, and we knew if we gave them too many opportunities that they'd take them and they did," first grade coach Shane Rodney said post-match.
"A bit disappointed but this was a big game for us: it was must-win for us to keep our slim finals hopes alive ... there's still a chance, with a minor miracle, but we really needed this win.
"But they're a good side. We had a couple of good wins coming in but they were better on the day.
"They got the jump on us 20 minutes into the second half and unfortunately we couldn't reel them in."
Of his squad, he congratulated hooker and captain Alexander Prout on his consistency.
"He puts in every week: 80 minutes in the middle of the ruck," Rodney said.
"He's not the biggest guy but he just keeps turning up."
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