After their heartbreaking grand final loss last year, the 2017 Dayboro Cowboys squad again looked like premiership contenders in their 30-16 win over Brisbane Natives.
New Cowboys signing Turlamu Pearce was outstanding for the visitors. The powerful five-eighth was indestructible throughout the game which saw the pivot cross for two outstanding tries.
But right across the park the Cowboys were in top gear.
Cowboy Adam Harris was the orchestrator, guiding his side around the field. The tenacious little halfback showed a lot of heart and was courageous against a Natives side that threw everything at the game.
But cometh the hour, cometh the man and Cowboy Pearce caused devastation outs wide, seeing him race away for a spectacular 45m try and gave the Cowboys a 12-6 lead.
But as always, the Natives did not throw in the towel and dynamo hooker Ray Harrison was near impossible to stop at close range.
He was too quick from dummy half and planted the ball over the chalk.
As halftime loomed, another throw of the dice for the Cowboys nearly paid off, only for them to be held up by the brutal defence led by Sione Tonga and Joe Marlone.
Ultimately, the Natives wanted to ensure the massive Cowboys pack were not going to bully them out of the game.
Again, it was hooker Harrison for the home side who showed why he is dangerous out of dummy half, with another burrowing run to catapult the Natives into the lead.
The Cowboys had a cast of thousands killing it up the middle, however Prop Adam Heathwood, Ruben Sullivan and Dan Harris showed why they are well respected in this competition with the three being the pick of the bunch.
The physicality of this game was intense if not bruising. Both sides put on a terrific display in defence and attack for the hardy spectators on hand.
Natives Travis Coyne and Morris Hodges tried hard in a losing side, but further tries to the Cowboys Sullivan and Lachie Enchelmaier showed why they are one of the most entertaining sides to watch in this competition.
Final Score: Dayboro Cowboys 30 def Brisbane Natives 16