THE new-look Nowra-Bomaderry Jets silenced their critics on Sunday by recording a hard-fought 20-10 win against the Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs, to secure the 2021 Bill Brown Cup.
At Shoalhaven Rugby Park, it was the visitors, who ended their 679-day Group Seven first grade hiatus on Sunday, who opened the round one scoring - in a match which saw referee Tyron Jordan (who along with all officials wore Warilla-Lake South colours on their wrists to honour the late Lynn Hooper) make his first grade debut.
Following consistent pressure, Dogs lock Jack Peel scooted out of dummy-half, to score next to the left upright.
Prop Lleyton Roach converted and Peter Lefley's troops led 6-nil after seven minutes.
That lead was short-lived, as the Jets levelled the scores through rampaging prop Nick Falzon, who caught the visitors napping down the short-side off a penalty.
Winger Braydon Walsh added the extras and it was 6-all.
Just when it appeared both teams would head to the sheds level, the hosts got their second.
Following a clever one-on-one strip by Steven Brandon on Zane Gallagher, Kurt Quinlan found Walsh unmarked to score in the corner.
The latter missed the sideline conversion and it was 10-6 at the break.
That four-point lead was doubled in the 53rd minute when quick hands by Steven Brandon and Walsh created space for Jacob Dolan - who then acrobatically scored minutes after entering the field of play.
Walsh nailed the long-distance conversion and it was 16-6.
Penalty goals in the 65th and 70th minutes by Walsh saw the Jets' lead balloon out to 20-6.
But the young Dogs continued to press hard, including a break down the right edge by skipper Blake Mackey - who would have scored, if not for a courageous tackle by Jake Gould.
In the dying minutes, an error by Dolan following a Travis Wooden bomb led to Joseph McArthy picking up the loose ball and hitting a flying Elijah Humble to score in the left corner.
Roach failed to convert and the match ended 20-10.
In the win, Gould, Nick Falzon, Steven Brandon and Kuyan Wellington all had strong games, while young Dogs Wooden, Roach, Lachlan Self and Luke Millard all showed plenty of positive signs.
In round two, the Dogs travel to Kiama to face the winless Knights while Ben Wellington's Jets have the bye.