You'd be hard-pressed to recall a maiden Premier League try more special than Marlin Pollack's on Sunday afternoon at Wade Park.
With Orange Hawks enjoying a 22-12 buffer over Bathurst St Pat's, halfback Toby Westcott nudged a grubber into the in-goal as the 21-year-old looked to earn his side a repeat set with two minutes to go.
But, when blue and whites' winger Jacob Ciccociopo knocked the ball on, that shot at a set restart turned into try-scoring opportunity.
With the ball up for grabs in the in-goal, there was only one man who was destined to pounce on it... Marlin Pollack.
The 18-year-old Hawks' utility has been to hell and back in the last few months, making his breakthrough try all the more special.
"I was surprised there weren't people from the crowd running in," Hawks' captain-coach Willie Heta said.
"We've all been waiting for it to happen. He's got such a good attitude and he's been around everything to do with the club this pre-season.
"He's in there with his brother [Ethan] McKellar and he really deserved that one."
While Pollack's four-pointer was easily the most moving moment of the contest, the 78 minutes leading up to it were gripping, and physical.
The scoring started in the second minute when Rakai Tuheke put Jordan Baker over in the corner before Westcott failed to add the extras.
Hawks had more try-scoring opportunities before the quarter break, but it was St Pat's who made the next move as a knock on by fullback Ryan Manning led to a Luke Single meat pie.
Ethan McKellar crossed the stripe next but you could almost give Westcott the four points as he put the big man through a gap to give the hosts a 10-6 lead.
The buffer grew with five minutes left in the half as a rampaging Marcel Ikinifo slid over the line after busting through the middle of Pat's defensive line.
St Pat's needed to be the next to score and after the break, they answered the bell as some nifty work from centre Jackson Brien gave winger Jacob Ciccocipo a clear passage to the try line.
Tyler Colley's boot narrowed the gap to four as the visitors were in the contest up to their necks.
Often times, the most significant moments in a rugby league match don't reflect on the scoresheet, and that was the case on Sunday as Ryan Manning's try-saving effort on Jackson Brien made all the difference with 25 minutes to go.
The Western Rams bulldozer looked $1.01 to score but when he made a dive towards the try line, Manning didn't only hold him up, he raked the ball out and gave his side possession.
That defensive effort allowed Jordan Baker to score a mirror image of his try in the first half as Tuheke again showed off his ball-playing ability, stretching the lead to 20-12 with 15 to go.
Westcott missed the conversion attempt but made no mistakes with a penalty goal with 10 minutes remaining, giving Hawks a 22-12 lead.
"It was still a bit scrappy," Heta said.
"It's only our second round so we've got a few things to work on but to have four points on the competition ladder is all you could ask for.
"I always knew Bubba [Manning] was going to come in and be excited. He's got all of his mates around him and it's good to see the local talent that can be displayed."
In fairness to St Pat's, the 28-12 didn't reflect how hard-fought the contest was, something Heta agreed with.
"We knew the game was still in the balance at half time," he said.
"You can never get too comfortable with a lead. I thought we defended our line in the last 20 which set the winning margin for us."
An injured St Pat's captain-coach was disappointed to leave Wade Park empty handed, but couldn't have asked for much more from his troops.
"I'm super, super proud of our boys," Merritt said.
"We finished the game with 12 players so super proud of the effort."
"We missed a couple of opportunities that really would have got us back in the game and we've been speaking about that."
The blue and whites certainly had enough field position to get the win on Sunday, but simply weren't able to cash in on their chances, something Merritt plans to address in the coming days.
"I think it comes down to being switched on when you have those opportunities," he said.
"And it also comes down to a little bit of luck as well."
ORANGE HAWKS 28 (Jordan Baker 2, Marcel Ikinifo, Marlin Pollack, Ethan McKellar. Conversions; Toby Westcott 3) DEF BATHURST ST PAT'S 12 (Jacob Ciccocipo, Luke Single tries. Conversions; Tyler Colley 2).
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