There aren't many certainties in life but when you sit down to watch Orange Emus play Bathurst Bulldogs, you can be sure of one thing - it's going to be an absolute belter.
The two sides delivered an instant Blowes Clothing Cup first-grade classic on Saturday as Emus booked a spot in the grand final, holding off the fast-finishing premiers to produce a 26-20 win.
And even though the scoreboard spells out a victory for the men in green, it didn't look all that likely with about 30 seconds to go.
Emus were defending their own goal line and had just lost a man to the sin bin and were asked to hold off another powerful push from the reigning champions.
Charlie Henley and the forward pack repelled body after body as the Bulldogs were throwing themselves at a green wall with zero seconds left on the clock.
It looked as though Bulldogs were a carry or two away from crashing over when they gave away a penalty in possession of the ball, rendering the match complete and seeing Emus improve on their flawless 2020 record.
Henley was in the thick of things at the death and even though he always backs his side to pull through, was starting to feel a bit anxious about how close to Bulldogs were to stealing a victory.
"Mate, the heart rate was up," Henley said.
"It was a tough 80 minutes and we were down to 14 men but we just had to get two feet behind the line in defence and make those tackles.
"We couldn't go all season and lose it like that... I had belief in the 13 other blokes that were on the field with me that we could get that done."
Regardless of the winner, it takes two sides to create an epic battle like that and Henley has nothing but the utmost respect for Bulldogs.
"It's a team that won't quit," he said.
"Every single time we play them - seven or eight times now - the game's been decided by less than a try.
"We knew that when we were up by 13 with a couple of minutes to go if they got another try they were back into it... it's just a really tough team."
Bulldogs kicked a penalty goal in the opening exchanges but after that, didn't lead for the rest of the contest as Emus played the frontrunner role.
Kiwi sensation Carter Hirini opened the home side's account with a pair of powerful tries as he was slippery through the middle, helping the greens to a12-3 lead.
Bulldogs hit back to bring the scores to 12-10 but the margin was short-lived as Pete Bromley's boys stretched it out further.
One of the game's most important plays occured when Dogs Bulldogs' centre Abel Lefaoseu stormed onto an inside ball and crashed over under the sticks, giving the premiers a puncher's chance at 26-20 with less than ten minutes to go.
From that point on, Emus tackled until the final whistle to register a famous win.
A skipper doesn't usually give out 3,2,1s in a post-match pressure but Henley's picks were Jamil Khalfan, Lachie Harris and Nigel Staniforth.
"Jamil at the back was amazing," he said.
"He's probably been our best player all year. He got us on the front foot when it was kicked deep and that was our game-plan."
Bulldogs' head coach Matt McRobert was understandably disappointed with the result but after an 80-minute effort like that, how can you be anything other than proud?
The mentor couldn't give his troops enough praise and said they did all he could ask of them - and more.
"I can't fault my guys," McRobert said.
"Our instructions to them all year have been to go out there and have a crack and enjoy themselves and do what they thought was right.
"They did that today and it didn't come off but there's just so much pride in this team.
"They've been a real pleasure to coach and to come here and be so close to a grand-final berth, it's been my pleasure to be involved."
McRobert made it clear his side didn't lack enthusiasm but what they did lack was a bit of polish in crucial areas.
"Our set piece probably wasn't good enough," he said.
"We gave Emus a start and they're not undefeated for nothing. To be within inches of stealing the game at the end is just a testament to the spirit of the boys."
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