An undermanned Kurri Kurri Bulldogs overcame a daunting record at Townson Oval to ignite their finals hopes with a 24-18 win against South Newcastle on Saturday.
Missing star halback Jarom Haines and key utility Ben Wyborn the Bulldogs showed the type of form and grit which took them to the preliminary final last season.
"We had a knack of doing that last year, getting the job done when blokes were injured," Bulldogs forward Brock Gilmour said.
"It was nice to get the win after three losses in a row.
"We always had the effort but we just haven't been able to walk away with the two points."
Gilmour was particularly pleased with the win against the reigning premiers at their home ground
"Good opposition and a tough road trip, in my five years in Newcastle rugby league I think I have only won once at Townson.
"I'm ecstatic to get the win down there against the reigning premiers."
Gilmour said the Bulldogs defence proved the difference this week.
"Our effort hasn't been lacking, it's just a few crunch-time moments when we made those mistakes and paid," he said.
"We still had a few errors today but we were able to defend them.
"The last 10 minutes I think they would probably had four sets on our line and we held them out. Our defence was the backbone of our victory."
Bulldogs coach Ron Griffiths was delighted with the effort across all grades.
"I think it was probably our 19s best game of the season, they along with League Tag who had a 12-all draw set the tone," he said.
"Then open and reserve grade got the wins and first grade completed the day it was fantastic."
Griffiths said the Bulldogs concentrated on the process rather than the significance of the game.
"We didn't really concentrate too much on the context of the game, it was more about concentrating on what we were doing and getting that right," he said.
"Our effort was very good against Maitland. We had the same thing today. Again we had some execution issues, which weren't really of first grade quality. But what was of first grade standard was their resolve and effort for each other.
"If you keep turning up doing that, you will be in every single game."
Griffiths said the wins across all grades was all the more significant considering Jarom Haines and Ben Wyborn had to pull out on Thursday due to injuries and Jono Maloney's return from injury was delayed by a week.
Ngangarra Barker went into the halves, Lachlan Hill played on the wing and Craig Richardson replaced Wyborn at hooker.
The Bulldogs hosts Wests this coming Saturday.