The Maitland Pickers survived what utility Hayden Grainger described as a dog fight to run out 22-18 winners against Cessnock Goannas.
"There was no good footy played at all, it was just a battle in the middle, it was a dog fight but that's the way you like it," Grainger said after playing 70 minutes at lock and dummy-half.
"You win those one and you're having a good time. Those are the ones you want to win."
They were sentiments shared by his coach Luke Dorn, who admitted the match could have gone either way.
"The game is so close but emotions in the rooms afterwards are so far apart," Dorn said.
"In the end, it is only round one, but everyone likes to get that first win on the board
Dorn was delighted with the Pickers commitment to one another, in particular their scramble defence in a frenetic final 10 minutes after the Goannas scored two quick tries to reduce the Pickers' 22-8 lead to just four points.
With just a minute on the clock it was fully tested again when fullback Issac Upton and forwards Sam Anderson and Ben Ireland held Goannas dummy-half Nick Lawrence just centimetres out from crossing the line beside the upright.
"It was a tough win, we made it hard for ourselves. It's always good to get the two points," Pickers co-captain Anderson.
Anderson and joint skipper Brenton Horwood had inspirational games, along with Peter Cronin, Cody Clulow and Ben Ireland off the bench.
Matthew Meafua and Greg Morris also had fine games in their first grade debuts for Maitland.
"I always knew from the days I used to play in this comp in 2010, Cessnock always turn up at home and they always fight to the end," Anderson said.
"We did make it hard for ourselves with our dropped ball and our leg up with penalties. If we get on top of that I think we will be a fair force to contend with in this comp.
"It's always good to have good depth at a club. The blokes we've got coming back are probably genuine starters and everyone is going to be fighting for a spot which is what you want.
"I'll give special mention to Pete Cronin, he has had a massive off-seaon the big fella, also to Cody and Benny Ireland. Those two have had a really big off-season and I think it showed today those three of the bench did a really good job.
"Pete's a leader at the club and he is probably in our best 13 but took the role of starting from the bench and lifting that very well."
The Pickers were without starting hooker Jarrod Smith, centre Matt Allwood and returning premiership player Marco Delapena.
Fraser Price in his first Pickers game and Tyler Perrin had strong games in the halves, with Price's kicking for goal proving the end on a day Goannas kicker Sam Apthorpe would rather forget landing just one of four.
Goannas coach Todd Edwards said in the end Maitland wanted the win more.
"We started really well, we were very dominant for the first 15 to 20 minutes, but we didn't kick two goals and we were only eight up.
"In the blink of an eye we were 12-8 down.
"Maitland wanted it more, they were better. In the end we could probably have got away with it late in the game.
"The young hooker told me got the ball on the line, but by the time the ref arrived he was rolled back.
"We dug ourselves out of it with about 18 to 20 minutes to go, but it is what it is and we've got to move on.
"We've dropped round one, it's one game but I don't like losing at home.
"The desire was there, I thought Maitland's was just a bit better.
"We put them under a lot of pressure early and they were very fit and they come back at us late.
"We weren't great in areas, we were very impatient.
"But we've got to start again, that's the thing about this footy comp, it's tough. You don't get an easy win, you don't get an easy week. Nothing's easy, that's why it's a good comp.
Paul (Carter) tried really hard. To be honest I don't know if he is a No.9 or more a runner off the footy, but he done a really tight job there today and the young kid coming off the rotation did well.
"It's only round one, it's not the end of the world.
"We had our opportunity to win or draw in the end, but we didn't take it.
"We've got Lakes in a fortnight, it's going to be a long fortnight but we need to be better to worry anyone in this comp."