DUNGOWAN and Gunnedah fought out the season's first draw - a 28-all result at Dungowan Recreation Reserve.
The Cowboys led 28-18 late in the game but had two players sin-binned as Gunnedah Bulldogs drew level and almost pulled off a late win on Saturday.
A confusing final five minutes each way left both sides ruing missed chances and the chance to win the game in golden-point extra time.
"We couldn't kick a goal," Gunnedah coach John Hickey said. "Tried three kickers today."
Bulldogs halfback Matt Brady kicked two conversions as well as crossing for three of the Bulldogs' six tries while Dungowan's Brett Jarrett kicked four of six conversion attempts while also scoring two tries.
"I'd love to have him in my side," Hickey said of Jarrett. "He's an outstanding player too.
"But I am very proud of my players too. I think Dungowan were very controlled. They play a game I admire, very gutsy.
"In that first half they never gave away a penalty. I don't know what the penalty count was against us but we did really well to fight back in the second half.
"They (Dungowan) did get into a bit of trouble with the ref and had the two Jarretts (Brett and Gavin) sin-binned.
"At that point we should have probably got across the line. We did get the ball across the line late but they (Dungowan) scrambled in defence and got out of trouble. That was enough, with a coupe of errors from us as well."
Hickey said extra time "ended in a bit of confusion".
"We had our chance to get across the line, then, too. But credit to Dungowan, they held on. It was a great contest. Both teams played well. I thought it was a good spectacle."
Hickey also thought Matt Baker was outstanding for the Bulldogs, and that Jacko Brookman "stepped up too".
Cowboys captain-coach Matt Wilson said: "The last 10 minutes [of regular times] killed us."
Dungowan 28 (Brett Jarrett 2, Ben Anderson, Brendon Steel, Nathan Maguire tries, Jarrett 4 goals) drew with Gunnedah 28 (Matt Brady 3, Aaron Donnelly, Rhyce Kliendienst, Jackson Brookman tries, Matt Brady 2 gaols) B&F: 3 Matt Wilson (D), 2 Matt Brady (G), 1 Aaron Donnelly (G)
Under 18: Dungowan 10 (Kyle Johnson, Cooper Harris tries, Blake Ginman gl) drew with Gunnedah 10 (Hayden Baker, Liam Ireland tries, Baker gl) B&F: 3 Clay Frendin (D), 2 Brad Male (D), 1 Ash White (G).
League tag: Dungowan 32 (Ellie New, Alina Swan, Emma Carrigan, Jamie Blackler, Emma Cummins, Belinda Clegg tries, Emma Carrigan 2, Sarah Stackman 2gls) d Gunnedah 6 (Brandy Harris try, Khobi Devine gl) B&F: 3 Emma Carrigan (D), 2 Ellie New (D), 1 Khobi Devine (G).