RUGBY LEAGUE - GROUP SEVEN
Warilla coach Peter Hooper believes his side's last-gasp 20-18 win over Kiama on Friday night could prove crucial when the numbers are crunched later in the season.
A Craig Nolen penalty goal after the siren stole the win for the Gorillas in a scrappy but willing affair at Kiama Showground.
"To Kiama's credit they probably consider themselves unlucky not to get one point [for a draw]," Hooper said.
"These games at the start of the year ... they say you can afford to drop them but I'm not a big believer of that.
"If you drop one at the start [of the season] you're chasing one at the end."
The Gorillas overturned a 10-6 half-time deficit to take an 18-10 lead midway through the second half before a try to Keiran Pools drew the Knights closer at 18-16.
Knights kicker Jack Alexander landed his own pressure penalty goal with less than five minutes remaining to lock the game up at 18-all before Nolen's heroics stole the show.
Hooper said the win was a reward for perseverance in what was at times an ugly game of football.
"It wasn't one for the coach's box," Hooper said.
"It wasn't our most polished 80 minutes by far but we competed in everything and as a coach you've got to be happy with that.
"We battled away all night, full credit to Kiama they didn't allow us any time with the ball they were outstanding defensively.
"Some days it doesn't all go to plan but we battled hard for the 80 and we got the result which is really pleasing especially early in the year."
Nolen's goal was a tough one from 30 metres out hugging the eastern touchline but Hooper said he was confident it would go over.
" When Craig's on he's a great goal-kicker and I backed him just because of his sheer confidence during the week that he could kick them."
And it wasn't the only close contest over the weekend with Jamberoo and Nowra-Bomaderry battling out a gritty 28-all draw at Nowra Showground.
The Superoos scored six tries to five, including two to captain-coach Matt Coehello, but the boot of Ryan James allowed the Jets to secure the draw.
Elsewhere in the competition Shellharbour scored a big win, knocking off defending premiers Gerringong 16-12 at Ron Costello Oval while Port Kembla won a close encounter with Milton Ulladulla 20-18 at Noel Mulligan Oval.