Despite running in nine tries, Shellharbour coach Dave Walsh was more impressed with his team's defensive effort in Sunday's 46-6 caning of Berry-Shoalhaven Heads at Ron Costello Oval.
The Sharks appeared certain to complete a shut-out of the Magpies before substitute forward Andrew Wright scored a try in the final minute.
"I was very happy with the defence," Walsh said.
"We let in that try at the end off a kick, but other than that, the boys did their jobs defensively for the whole game."
Berry conceded 116 points in their two previous outings and appeared determined to stop the rot with a purposeful opening 20 minutes.
The Sharks held a 14-0 half-time lead, but the visitors had two tries disallowed and still fancied their chances.
Shellharbour swiftly put a dampener on Berry's comeback hopes with Ryan Schuster's try two minutes into the second half.
It's hard not to feel sorry for the Magpies, who had won seven straight to soar into top-three contention before injuries to key players triggered a slide.
"They're doing it tough with players out, but going through this kind of a situation is character-building and they'll be stronger for it," Walsh said.
Winger Jamie Manukonga scored the first of his two tries after 10 minutes, while fullback Ian Catania crossed for back-to-back tries and a 14-0 lead.
Scoring tries in the second half were Hans and Ryan Schuster, Manukonga, Kurt Field (2) and Bronx Goodwin.
"We started working for each other in defence again today and there was a lot more talk," Walsh said.
"Leading into the byes I was more than happy with our defence, but then the last couple of weeks it was a bit disappointing. Today you could see them working hard for each other and we were dominating. It's good to see that coming back and hopefully we can stick with that leading into the semis."
Shellharbour all but locked up a top-three spot.
"We're definitely going to have to go up a notch or two," Walsh said.
"Some of the other teams have got the luxury of playing together for the last few years and they've developed really good combinations. We've been a work in progress all year.
"I still don't think we've hit our straps, especially in attack, and we've got three weeks to get it right leading into the semis."
Warilla stayed on course for the minor premiership with a 40-10 road win over Milton-Ulladulla.