A BRAVE effort from ruckman Luke Griffiths provided the inspiration as Cardiff Hawks continued their unbeaten start to the season with an 11.6 (72) to 7.11 (53) win against perennial Black Diamond Cup heavyweights Terrigal-Avoca at Hylton Moore Oval on Saturday.
Griffiths contracted a virus on the eve of the game and was unsure if he should play.
"When I got to the ground, he told me he'd been vomiting all morning," Hawks captain-coach Nick Tomlinson said.
"So we just tried to nurse him through and use him in spurts.
"Then our other ruckman, Reegan Bowe, went down with a concussion in the second quarter, so Luke had to step up for him as well.
"He ended up being our best player, so it was a real character-building game for him. Everyone knew he was doing it tough, so he kind of set the tone for us."
Jack Lennon kicked five goals for Cardiff, which gives him 11 in three games this season. Only teammate Izaac Hughes, with 13 goals, has scored more across the competition.
Tomlinson said it was pleasing that Cardiff had followed their runaway win against Maitland in the previous game with an equally impressive effort against last season's runners-up.
"If we want to challenge for top spot, they're the sort of games we have to win," Tomlinson said. "We know they had a couple of key personnel out, and they'll only get better as the year goes on.
"It was nice to get a win over them early, and especially it was good to back up our big win last week.
"We don't want to have any down weeks. We want to play consistently, get into good habits, and beat whoever we're playing each week."
Cardiff led 4.2 (26) to 3.1 (19) at quarter-time, but Terrigal had grabbed a 5.4 (34) to 5.3 (33) advantage by the main break.
"We managed to kick six goals to two in the second half, so I was really proud of how the boys closed the game out," Tomlinson said.
"We knew Terrigal would come back at us but we were able to stifle them and control the game when we needed to."
Cardiff's next challenge, on Anzac Day, will be the local derby against fourth-placed Warners Bay at Pasterfield Sports Complex.
Warners Bay suffered a 12.13 (85) to 11.4 (70) loss to Killarney Vale at Adelaide Street Oval on Saturday.
It was Killarney Vale's first win this season.
Tim Oosterhoff (Bombers) and Jake Roach (Warners Bay) kicked four goals each.
The biggest win of the weekend was by champions Newcastle City 20.18 (138) over Nelson Bay 3.7 (25) at Dick Burwell Oval.
Kevin McDonald kicked five goals for City.
In the other games, Bradley Deitz kicked five goals in Gosford's 16.13 (109) to 5.5 (35) win against Maitland at Adcock Park, while Justin McPhan kicked five as Wyong Lakes beat Singleton 10.11 (71) to 5.10 (40) at Don Small Oval.