It may have taken some last-gasp heroics, but the Griffith Blacks have got their first win of the season.
A last minute try from Nawi Rokocika and clinical kicking from Emanuel Dutack throughout the game proved the difference as the Blacks came out 18-13 winners over the Albury Steamers at Exies Oval today.
It looked like the Griffith side might be repeating the same mistakes from their opening two defeats when they went under the pump early on to a tough Albury side.
But the Black wall stood strong and 18 minutes into the game they managed to make their first proper move into the Steamers half.
After some half-hearted attempts by the left touchline, the Blacks swung the ball across the field and found a streaking Mitieli Ratumaitavuki who snuck a try in the far right corner.
The snatch and grab was shortlived, as five minutes later Albury caught the Griffith players slacking and grabbed a try of their own with a 40 metre run.
The rest of the half was pretty much all Albury but with the last play before half-time, the Blacks managed to make their way up the field and Dutack coverted a penalty kick to make it 8-5 at the break.
It was an even start to the second half, but after 15 minutes the Steamers scored a try to put themselves in the lead.
The Steamers once again missed the conversion but a penalty kick a few minutes later eased the pain and put them up 8-13.
With 15 minutes to go, the Blacks piled the pressure on, seemingly desperate to not start the season off with three straight losses.
Dutack converted a penalty kick to bring them within touching distance, but the wall of yellow and blue was proving hard to crack, holding the Griffith side off right up until the final minute.
With less than a minute on the clock, substitute Rokocika was thrown the ball in the centre and managed to push through his marker and score a try just past the goalpost.
Cheers erupted across Exies Oval and Dutack scored the conversion to put the finishing touches on a hard-earned comeback for the Blacks.
Speaking after the game, Blacks coach Chris McGregor said he was confident the boys would pull it off.
"I knew if we kept working through our structure that we'd get to where we need to be," McGregor said.
"I asked the boys for effort and respect and they gave us that. It was a big improvement on the last couple of weeks and it was the first time we've actually played proper rugby in the first half."
McGregor credited the win to the whole team but highlighted the effort from the substitutes.
"Our bench really gave us that spark when we needed it right at the end."
The Blacks face the CSU Reddies next weekend in Wagga.
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