GERRINGONG won early bragging rights in a rivalry sure to continue into the big games at season's end with a 34-28 win over Shellharbour at Ron Costello Oval on Sunday.
A tense first half saw the Lions lead 10-6 before points came in a four-try flurry for the visitors in the 15 minutes after halftime.
Sharks livewire Brodie Rigg sparked a late fight-back with a hat-trick but it wasn't enough to get his side over the line, with the visitors coming out on top by the narrow six-point margin.
"I thought it was a very good game of football, there weren't many mistakes made by either side," Lions coach Mick Cronin said.
"It's what you expect, a tough game of football, here at Shellharbour. We came out and started well in the second half and opened them up.
"Then they came back and it was a funny game, the whole time you're thinking you're going to win and all of a sudden there's a good chance you could get beat.
"We had plenty of good performers out there but, as a side, we were probably a bit dumb at times, I'll have to take a look at that."
Sharks counterpart Abed Atallah also praised the contest, but said his side paid for their lapse after halftime.
"If you were a spectator you got your seven bucks worth today, it was a really good game of footy," Atallah said.
"We expected that be the case, the first half was really tight, end-to-end footy, it was probably that next 20-minute period at the start of the second half where we let our guard down.
"We let four tries in that were quite poor by our standards. I was proud of the way the guys came came back, we had a bit of momentum at the back end there, but we just ran out of time.
"Across the park the effort was there, we've just got to be better for longer periods of the game because it was that 15-20-minute period that cost us the game."