WINNING ugly never felt so good for the resurgent Roos.
Coming off a 21-12 upset of defending premiers Merewether Carlton, Lake Macquarie proved the success over a top-five side was no fluke when they again clinched victory at the death in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union on Saturday with a 22-19 win over Wanderers.
Down 19-17 with two minutes to play, the Roos made the most of back-to-back penalties to swing the ball wide for Dave Alo to score.
The thrilling finish at No.2 Sportsground was at odds with most of the game, which was marred by handling errors and penalties.
But the hard-fought victory was another step in the right direction for the Roos, who are on the rise after many seasons of struggle.
‘‘There’s a growing belief in the side that we can beat anyone,’’ Lake Macquarie assistant coach Steve Cooper said.
‘‘In the past we’ve lost those tight games by a couple of points. Now we’ve had a couple of games where we’ve closed it out in the last five minutes.
‘‘In the past we’ve fell in the last 10 minutes.
‘‘Now we’ve got a bit more fitness and a bit more belief.
‘‘You’ve got to win the tight ones, and if you win those ugly games, it shows you’ve got the ability to win at the end of the season. It’s good to see the guys are willing to grind it out when it gets hard.’’
Lake Macquarie opened the scoring with two penalty conversions from Brendan Holliday.
The Two Blues hit back through a penalty kick from Paul Mlotkowski before Junior To’o scored out wide for the Roos to make it 11-3.
Wanderers captain Anthony Barrett snared an intercept and ran away to score and cut the deficit to one point at half-time.
The sides traded penalties before Lake Macquarie edged ahead with Alo’s try in the dying minutes.
To’o was again outstanding for the Roos at centre, but Cooper was quick to praise his unsung pack.
‘‘There’s a core group of guys in the forwards that are pumping out one good performance after another,’’ Cooper said.
‘‘They are not getting the headlines of Junior and some other guys, but they are doing the hard yards for us.’’
Simon Tufi was another to shine for the Roos, coming on for concussed centre Ray Alo, brother of Dave, midway through the first half after he had played a full game in second grade.
Barrett said Wanderers were keen to hit back from a 42-10 loss to Hamilton and had no excuses for their below-par performance.
‘‘There wasn’t much structure to the game. It was very stop-start,’’ Barrett said.
‘‘We hoped to make amends for the previous game and start building for the rest of the season, so it was very disappointing to lose like that.’’
Elsewhere on Saturday, rookie winger Jayde Lantry scored four tries as Maitland thumped The Waratahs 65-7 at Marcellin Park, Southern Beaches battled a spirited University and a lopsided penalty count to win 29-13 at Cahill Oval, Hamilton defeated Nelson Bay 46-7 at Bill Strong Oval and Cal McDonald crossed for four tries as Merewether Carlton downed Singleton 60-8 at Rugby Park.