Southern Beaches coach Johan Lourens was relieved to walk away with the points after a “real struggle” to hold out Lake Macquarie and move into the NHRU top four on Saturday at Calland Field.
Southern Beaches led 7-0 inside two minutes through a try to centre James Vaka, but Lake Macquarie hit back with tries to No.8 Marvin Tauhinu and winger Caileb Gerrard in the next 15 minutes.
The visitors were up 12-7, but Beaches edged back ahead 13-12 through penalty goals from Michael Delore in the 21st and 38th minutes.
Delore extended the lead in the 57th minute with a show-and-go try shortly after Lakes centre Ray Alo was given 10 minutes for a professional foul.
The Roos, though, cut the deficit four minutes later with a Brendan Holliday penalty goal for 20-15 and their hopes rose when Beaches prop Michael Aliifaalogo was shown a yellow card in the 67th minute.
However, the hosts crossed through a strong run from winger Lachlan Waide in the 72nd to go ahead 25-15.
The Roos went over with a pick-and-drive try from Jack Ogilvy in the 78th minute to give them hope but they could not find the winner.
It was a nail-biting day for Lourens, who praised the effort from the Roos.
“It was a real struggle all over the field,” Lourens said.
“I was just happy to walk away with the points.
“We lacked a bit of urgency in different parts of the game, but credit to Lakes, they really took it to us.
“I thought Joe Samoata, our No.6, was great. He did everything you expect of him and more, and Glenn Stone was really good for us at the lineout.”
The win was Beaches’ second of the year, and Lourens expected his side to not hit their straps for at least another month.
“It’s only early in the season and we are nowhere near where I want us to be,” he said.
“That’s probably four or five weeks away, but we are chipping away and improving. We’ll get there.”
And he believes they will need to keep improving.
“This is the toughest I’ve seen the Newcastle competition,” he said. “Every team we’ve played has surprised me. The Bay, Maitland were superb, and it’s the most open I’ve seen the competition. Everyone has recruited really well.”
Wanderers remained unbeaten, thumping University 52-20 at No.2 Sportsground. Tim Marsh scored three tries for the Two Blues.
Hamilton stayed second with a 30-15 win over Nelson Bay at Passmore Oval in which Bryce Madden crossed twice for the Hawks.
Merewether Carlton defeated last-placed Singleton 54-3 at Townson Oval with Jay Strachan scoring two tries.
The Waratahs edged out Maitland 39-33 at Waratah Oval as player-coach Carl Manu crossed twice for the hosts. Jye Estatheo scored two tries for the Blacks.