A battered and bruised Maitland Blacks ultimately emerged brave 21-14 winners against a giant Lake Macquarie side on Ladies Day at Marcellin Park on Saturday.
The Blacks built up and then surrendered 14-point lead but lifted again on the back of smart rugby to score a converted try and claim a memorable win.
"I said before the match that I will be a very happy man with one-point win, I'll take a seven-point win for sure," a proud Blacks coach Matt Thomas said after the match.
Travis Brooke and Harry Chapman celebrated NSW Country team selection with outstanding games, although Brooke will need to have his nose straightened at some point after breaking in Saturday's physical encounter.
"It was a tough game, there were some big hit. Both teams really put their bodies on the line," Thomas said.
"We were up 14-nil and then it was 14-all. They came back strong in the second half and we finally started to play some football and when we did we scored the try to win the game.
"Harry Chapman was brilliant, Travis Brooke again was outstanding and Nick Davidson was really strong today. Nick copped a hiding out there."
Thomas said it was great news to have Chapman and Brooke selected for NSW Country and great news for the injury-hit club that they will only miss one club game due to this year's representative scheduling.
The Blacks made a tough ask even harder with seven errors giving possession to Lake Macquarie in the first half.
"It was a really tough, hard-fought win. We weren't the sharpest looking team and it was a reflection of how we trained during the week," Thomas said.
"We are starting to win games like this which we would have lost in the past.
"It's a sign of the depth and courage of our side.
"When we played football, geez we looked good. But our own silly fundamental errors are going to let teams beat us and we've got to cut that out of our game.
"It was just basic handling errors, It's not good enough to have seven handling errors in the first half.
"But they played smart, they do adhere to the game plans that we implement. They change every week to an extent. It's a positive thing."
The Blacks opened their scoring with a penalty try in the 31st minute and soon after extended their lead with a converted try to Dale Clacherty to lead 14-0 going into the break.
Lake Maquarie hit back in the second half with two converted tries before Pat Batey scored in the 76th minute after coming on in the second half.Penalty try from a scrum, Pat Batey and Dale Clacherty.
Batey's early return from injury through second grade is one of the few positives on the injury front for the Blacks.
The Blacks will welcome back captain Carl Manu from overseas travel next round and will be hoping for no further injuries.
"We've still got a lot of injuries and we may have more after this week, but I just can't get a break with all my players playing first grade.
"We've just been bombarded with the injuries."