The Dungog Warriors have produced arguably their best performance of the season in beating fourth placed Dudley on Saturday.
With five players at a wedding, one player having his first game of the year and another his first in three months, Dungog were stretched to the limit.
However, a courageous effort from the undermanned Dungog team saw them roll Dudley 30 to 18.
Dungog enjoyed the run of play early on and a Nathan Ward pass to Jeremy Fredericks sent second rower Jacob Long on a bullocking 40m run to cross for first points.
The Warriors were in again when Daniel Bates sent Matt Hinton over from close range for a converted try and a 10 nil lead.
Dudley got on the board from the next set of six with an unconverted try out wide but that man Bates took Dungog’s lead out to 12 when he sent Harry Boorer, in his first run on game for the Warriors, over untouched under the black dot.
Dungog were starting to look a little tired as the half went on and a try under the posts to the home side had them within six. It was soon after this that Hinton was injured and Dudley found themselves back in the game when a crossfield bomb resulted in a try to have Dungog going to the break clinging to a two point lead.
Dungog were looking weary towards the end of the first half and things were looking ominous when a grubber kick from the home side put them in front for the first time at the 50 minute mark. Dudley were on a bit of a roll but the turning point came soon after. With Mitch Evans down injured a scuffle broke out which resulted in the halfback and second rower from Dudley going to the bin along with the Warriors winger.
It was while they were of that the class of the Warriors halfback Fredericks and hooker Bates shone through.
Firstly Bates made a break before offloading to Fredericks for a converted try and then it was Bates to Fredericks for Chris Evans to go over for a converted try, pushing the lead out to 28-18.
Dudley threw everything at Dungog over the final 15 minutes but the Warriors defence and willingness to turn up for each other was magnificent.
The Warriors were out on their feet but they continued to get to the tackle to deny Dudley and fulltime saw a jubilant bunch of players leave the field.