Pirates went into Saturday's clash against Quirindi expecting a tough encounter.
And that is exactly what they got, the final 61-36 scoreline not telling the true tale of what was a willing and competitive contest.
Spurred on by a big Ladies Day crowd, a gritty Lions really took it to their higher-placed rivals. Especially in the forwards, scoring a try off a lineout rolling maul and at other times having Pirates backpeddling, and holding them well in the scrum.
But Pirates just had that bit of extra class and x-factor in the backs.
Outside centre Damian Reti, fullback Sam Collett and No.8 Conrad Starr all crossed for doubles, Reti getting them off to a great start when he sliced through the Lions defence in just the fifth minute.
But the Lions hit straight back courtesy of a great individual effort from Bailey Swain, the fullback chipping in behind the Pirates defence and showing good pace to win the race to the ball.
It was a sign of what was to come over the ensuing 70 minutes or so.
"It was a tough one," Reti conceded.
"[But] Whenever you come out to Quirindi you always know it's going to be a tough one. The boys always bring it when they're at home."
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While they were never headed from his opening try, they could never really shake the Lions off either. Every time they looked to kick away the home side would get themselves back in the game.
Reti said the feeling amongst the players always though remained pretty good.
"We sort of knew what we wanted to do and we sort of stuck at that and we just played to what we could," he said.
They did score some great tries. Starr's second for one. Giving them a 33-17 lead at half-time, they kept the ball alive from about 40m out through just a few sets of hands.
There was better to come just after the break, Collett finishing off a spectacular effort.
It started with a barnstorming run from Starr. Reti then brushed off a couple of defenders, before linking up with Jayden Kitchener-Waters.
After busting out of a couple of tackles, the five-eighth then unleashed winger Alex Franklin with an underarm flick. Franklin then grubbered to the middle of the field and Collett cleaned up.
It took Pirates' lead out to 23 and you thought might have seen them take control.
But then out of nothing the Lions hit straight back.
When Sam Avard then darted out from the back of the ruck to add his name to the tryscorers list it was back to 11 points with about 20 to play.
But two quick tries to Collett and Luke Johnstone put paid to any threat of an upset.
Collett was a constant threat from the back, as was Reti, who was also probably their leading light in defence, which did leave a bit to be desired and will no doubt be a focus this week ahead of their clash with Moree.
The Bulls will be coming off a 33-17 upset win over Inverell.
The result was a bonus for Pirates, seeing them jump up to third.
In the other game Scone edged out Walcha 22-19 to record their first win of the season.
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