Shellharbour Sharks have showed that they won't be conceding their 2018 Group Seven Rugby League first grade premiership crown without a fight after outlasting former competition leaders Jamberoo Superoos 28-10 on a heavy Kevin Walsh Oval on Saturday.
The win has now seen the Sharks slip past the Superoos on percentages with five rounds of the competition remaining as the battle hots up for the minor premiership.
The Superoos are hoping to welcome back some of their five missing starting line-up after next week's spare weekend and then the bye, while the Sharks will be hoping to have Donte Efaraimo and Nick Greenhalgh, who was injured in the early stages of Saturday's clash, for the round 14 match against Nowra-Bomaderry.
The Sharks jumped out of the blocks and led early when Jamberoo failed to tidy up a Matt Carroll cross-field bomb and Dee-Jay Harris tidied up to crash over for a 4-nil lead.
The match then became a real arm-wrestle as both teams tried to gain the advantage, but it was the Sharks again who had the right moves and fullback Sam Clune chimed in and sent Wayde Aitken through a hole to score in the 30th minute and Carroll converted for a 10-nil lead.
Just when it looked like they would take the good lead to halftime, stand-in fullback Tam Ulukita failed to diffuse a mid-field bomb and great work by replacement Ben Jones, Mark Asquith and James Gilmore sent Simon Maslanka racing over in the corner to open the home side's account.
Jono Dallas, ironically his side's fourth-choice goalkicker through injury, missed the sideline conversion and the Sharks went to halftime with a 10-4 lead.
With the change of fortunes, it was expected that Jamberoo would come out strongest after the break, but it wasn't the case and it was the visitors who came out firing.
First it was replacement forward Liam Ryan who stormed over from close range just 90 seconds after the restart and straight after a couple of midfield offloads gave Aitken space out wide and with Carroll landing both conversions, the score blew out to 22-4.
To their credit the Superoos battled on and a superb pass from captain-coach Jono Dallas, playing his 200th first grade game for the club, to a rampaging Kyle Stone saw the mobile backrower sprint over in the corner and Dallas slotted his first-ever goal from touch to close the gap to 12.
However, that was to be as close the Superoos would get, with Sam Clune scoring one of his own when his grubber kick close to the line was fumbled by Ben Barnard and he scooped it up to dive over. Carroll rounded out the scoring at 28-10.
In a solid Sharks effort, their forwards laid the platform in the heavy conditions, led by Man of the Match, birthday boy Dane Sablowski, Matt Coltman and Juvilee Samiu, while Sam Clune and Wayde Aitken played well out wide, while Luke Asquith, James Gilmore, James Asquith, Jake Clarke and replacement winger Mitch Simington were best for the Superoos.