A solitary conversion kept the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs clear of a late charge by the Tathra Sea Eagles on Sunday.
The Sea Eagles rallied from an 18-6 deficit at half-time to close the gap to just two points to their hosts at the Pambula Sporting Complex after a fiery and energetic clash with the Bulldogs.
The Eagles had struck early with Connor Carr barrelling through for a try just two minutes in.
However, Blake Schafer struck back just minutes later and the scores sat at 6-6.
Tathra were able to put on some repeat attacking sets and pressed the try line, but the Bulldogs were resilient and were able to hold them out
Josh Finucane was strong for the visitors, pressing some strong options towards the right edge, while John Aldridge and Callum Bower-Scott directed play well through the middle.
Opposing forwards Mitch Carter and Jack McGuire ran some punishing hit ups for their respective clubs with bone crunching tackles through the ruck as both clubs battled hard for field position.
However, handling errors provided handovers and made for a disjointed period of play, while the Bulldogs turned on some late pressure with repeat sets of their own late in the piece.
It gave the Bulldogs some chances when they pushed left, then right, but were held back by Tathra's defence, but after forcing a couple of line dropouts, Rhys Schafer found the chalk right under the posts.
Then in the dying minutes of the half the Sea Eagles were in good field position, but the Bulldogs pushed to their left edge from their own defensive 20 where Luke Rixon broke loose, recovered his own chip kick, ran over the top of a Tathra defender and bolted a further 60 metres to score.
The continued pressure from the Eagles weighed in the second half though and cracks began to form in the Dogs' line with Callum Bower-Scott crossing early to set the mood.
Twenty minutes in Dylan Shaw and a few minutes later Mitch Carter were able to pierce the line and find a handy pair of tries, but a missed conversion on Shaw's try ultimately left the Sea Eagles short.
The Sea Eagles carded a convincing win 34-4 earlier in the reserve grade, while the League-tag outfit carded their first win of the season with a 6-0 result.
Weather permitting, the Bulldogs will catch up an earlier cancelled clash with the Moruya Sharks this weekend where the result could put the Dogs in superb ladder position.
The Sharks have climbed to second on the back of being the first team to tarnish Cooma's tally this season following a weekend win, while the Bulldogs are sitting equal second in a bit of a points traffic jam.
Sunday's result will decide second place outright as the competition passes halfway.