IF THE Griffith Blacks needed any more proof they were no longer the team that "embarrassed" the club earlier this year, they got it on Saturday when overcoming Cootamundra 29-23 at Coro Club Oval.
The squad's first-round loss to Cootamundra was the game that had coach Clint Robertson questioning the Blacks' future as a rugby union club.
But Robertson's sentiments could not have been more different after Griffith's narrow win against the Tri-Colours at the weekend.
"It went down to the wire, but the boys played good football and they didn't give up," he said.
"In the first half they played really good football and only had two unforced errors that were notable and got off to a bloody good start."
Determined to make Cootamundra pay for their first-round humiliation, the Blacks dominated from the first whistle and jumped out to a commanding 22-8 lead at half-time.
But it seemed Griffith wasn't going to make it too easy for itself when old demons came back to haunt the side in the second half, letting the Tri-Colours back in the game.
"I don't know whether it was complete panic or running out of steam or just being lazy, but from the sidelines it just looked like all their ability to play went out the window," Robertson said.
"It was a complete opposite team that went back out in the second half.
"We spoke about it at half-time that if they did this, that Cootamundra could come back in, and that's what they did."
Taking advantage of the Blacks' panic, Cootamundra put on two tries and grabbed a penalty goal to take the lead 23-22.
"It was one of those nail-biters where they (the Blacks) had to make the decision to play football, and thank Christ they did," Robertson said.
"The good thing was it was themselves who were aware of it and not just me jumping up and down on the sidelines."
After half-an-hour on the back foot, Griffith roared back into life and a pushover try by Ben Martin with five minutes to go secured the home side the morale-boosting 29-23 victory.
Despite the 30-minute lapse in the game, Robertson said he was happy with how the Blacks played and how they played for each other.
"We dominated in the game," he said.
"We let them back in, it wasn't that they got any better.
"We just stopped and they kept playing the way they had been, but credit to the boys that they didn't give up."
Robertson praised Michael Jones, Ben Groat and Enrique De La Barra for their performances, while John Tagliapetra is not expected to return this season after picking up a medial ligament strain in his knee.
Griffith Blacks 29
Cootamundra Tri-Colours 23