ORANGE City has maintained the club's strangle hold on the Lions-Bulldogs Blowes Clothing Cup rivalry, edging their Bathurst opponents 22-10 at Pride Park.
The Lions haven't tasted defeat against a Dogs outfit since their 14-12 loss in the 2010 preliminary final at Ashwood Park, and thanks to a typically defiant defensive outing from the defending premiers that four-year stretch didn't end on Saturday.
"They love playing the Dogs," Lions caretaker coach Nathan Short said.
"There's been a rivalry there for a number of years going back in to the early 90s and it's continued on from there ... they love it."
Down 10-5 after Bulldogs Chris Plunkett and Jack Roberson both crossed for first-half tries, the Lions dug deep to score the next 17 points unanswered and secure win number seven from eight rounds for 2014.
In the face of a relentless tide of giant Bulldogs forwards led by Izaak Breen, Orange City's pack stood tall.
"They love the tough stuff, a few of our forwards," Short continued.
"Our defence was outstanding, there were a couple of lapses early that led to some points but I guess when you're tackling and tackling and tackling there's going to be mistakes. But defence won that game, no doubt about it.
"They've been down enough and bounced back enough to back ourselves in attack and back ourselves in defence. We did a tremendous job there and that one the game for us in the end."
Orange City got off to a flyer when winger Mitch Green crossed untouched in the fourth minute.
But on the back of a 7-3 first-half penalty count the Bulldogs entered the grind and Plunkett's pick and drive five-pointer in the 22nd minute was followed by a fantastic try from outside centre Roberson five minutes later.
Ahead in the arm-wrestle, Bathurst looked certain to extend their five-point lead until the hosts made the Bulldogs pay for a simple error when winger Cameron Cole flew down the eastern touchline to grab a cracking try.
A strong northerly made it a nightmare for goal kickers but Mesui Lemoto slotted the Cole conversion from the sideline to give City the 12-10 advantage.
And then in the play that effectively broke the Bulldogs' players back, a Duncan Young try right on halftime and another wind-curling conversion from Lemoto shot the hosts out to a 19-10 lead at the break.
A dour second stanza ensued and as the tension levels reached palpable events threatened to boil over with 12 minutes to go after the Bulldogs pack didn't react kindly to what appeared to be a punch from Orange City prop Scott Smith on a Bathurst player.
Smith went unpunished by referee Keith Hogan, however, and the Lions held on to win 22-10, with the only change to the score a successful penalty attempt from Lemoto on the hour mark.
Bulldogs skipper Adam Dwyer was left to rue his side's missed opportunities, labelling the loss the one that got away for the blue and golds.
"For sure, a lot of silly mistakes and a lot of terrible, terrible penalties let Orange City run away with the game," Dwyer said.
"Especially when we were up 10-5, I thought we were in for a game here and we obviously took the foot off the pedal and went down hill from there, full credit to Orange City."
Orange City do have a few injury concerns headed into the local derby round on June 14, with Mitch Pearce and Nick Quinn both leaving the field injured in the 12-point win.
"There's a few busted boys. A few niggles and a few split heads ... they'll be right after the week off though," Short said.
ORANGE CITY LIONS 22 (Mitch Green, Cameron Cole, Duncan Young tries; Mesui Lemoto 2 conv, pen goal) def BATHURST BULLDOGS 10 (Chris Plunkett, Jack Roberson tries)