Manilla scrapped their way to a hard-fought 24-16 Second Division win over a tenacious Bundarra on Saturday to go two from two.
The Tigers could never really shake off the Bears, who midway through the second half looked to be getting on top, but showed great resolve to score two late tries and snatch the points.
“We just toughed it out. The boys dug in,” captain-coach Mitch Doring said.
Jake McLoughlin put them in front with about five to play after a dart from dummy-half from hooker Amos Ioasa.
Ioasa had a big impact in the final minutes, and muscled his way over for the match-sealing try with three minutes remaining.
The Tigers had struck first through Aaron Wicks, but struggled to recapture the polish they had the previous week against Werris Creek as they fumbled their way through the rest of the half.
“We got that first try and I think we got on top of ourselves,” Doring said.
“We didn’t complete our sets and we forced mistakes.”
They had the Bears under a lot of pressure in the first half but couldn’t turn it into points either through the visitors strong defence or them spilling the ball, several times as they were looking threatening.
Manilla’s discipline also let them down, the penalties starting to mount up late in the first half.
That eventually led to the Bears levelling, captain-coach Luke Deaves following through on a grubber into the in goal and swooping on the loose ball, after Tigers winger Jordan Graff was ruled to have knocked on.
Todd Cleal added the extras to lock the scores up at 6-all at the break.
Doring’s main message at half-time was to get back to the simple stuff. Completing their sets, being strong on their kick and chase - the things they did well against the Magpies.
It seemed to have an immediate effect, with the Tigers almost scoring inside the first couple of minutes after a searing run from Doring.
Eventually they were able to convert their pressure, McLoughlin – sensing an opportunity - attacking the left edge and drawing in two defenders to free up Daniel Earl to run away and score.
But the Bears found their growl and scored twice in the space of less than 10 minutes to hit the front for the first time in the game with around 15 to go.
The Tigers eventually found their rhythm again. Doring attributed that to their discipline improving and sticking to their “red set” as he referred to it - punching it up through the middle.
He said Ioasa and McLoughlin were great for them. Doring also provided plenty of spark at half-back.
The Bears had to tough it out with only three on the bench, which took some of sting out of them later in the game.
The other thing that really hurt Bundarra was mistakes.
“It was a big effort from the boys,” Deaves said.
“We just cruelled ourselves with a lot of dropped ball.”
Their poor discipline didn’t help them either, giving the Tigers a lot of piggy-backs.
He thought hooker Jake Deaves was their best.