Southbridge retained the Murray Cooper Shield with a last-gasp 32-30 win over Lincoln on Saturday at Southbridge Domain.
Southbridge needed an injury-time penalty goal to captain Shannon Donald to win the combined country competition game.
Southbridge scored three tries before Lincoln stormed back from 19-3 down to make the game close.
The lead changed three times in the last 10min.
Lincoln had held the shield for 11 seasons until Southbridge beat them to take it last year.
The result was the perfect way for Southbridge prop Jimmy Harvey to celebrate his 150th game.
Southbridge coach Doug Maginness said his team initially ran the visitors off their feet before poor ball-handling and ill-discipline cost them their advantage.
“We played an up-tempo style which worked for us but we let ourselves down with not treasuring the ball like we should have,” he said.
Maginness praised No 8 Jale Masi for his strength with the ball in hand.
“On both sides of the ball he was fantastic,” Maginness said.
He also praised reserve halfback Mitchell Prendergast, who was not a regular senior A halfback but managed to play 75min off the bench due to a serious achilles injury to Luke Palmer.
Lincoln coach Matt Lowe said his team struggled to cope with Southbridge’s width in attack early.
But he said the team did well to claw their way back into the contest.
“We missed a few tackles which led to some 40m tries, and our cover defence wasn’t as good as it should have been,” Lowe said.
Lincoln chose to take the game to Southbridge in the forwards which paid dividends.
“We found holes around the ruck and made the most of them,” Matt said. Blindside flanker Vaughan Thomson and hooker Sam Cottam had high work rates throughout.
There will be two rounds of action this week, with an Anzac Day round to be played mid-week.
Section A: Saracens 27, Celtic 5; Waihora 68, Ashley 28; BDI 46, Hampstead 25; Ohoka 49, West Melton 26; Southbridge 32, Lincoln 30.
Section B: Rakaia 64, Hornby 5; Kaiapoi 31, Methven 24; Southern 36, Hurunui 31; Prebbleton 27, Rolleston 13; Darfield 38, Oxford 18.
Section A: Waihora 21, 1; Celtic 20, 2; Southbridge 18, 3; Lincoln 17, 4; BDI 15, 5; Saracens 15, 6; Glenmark 10, 7; Ohoka 6, 8; West Melton 5, 9; Ashley 3, 10; Hampstead 1, 11.
Section B: Darfield 22, 1; Rakaia 20, 2; Prebbleton 19, 3; Southern 16, 4; Kaiapoi 15, 5; Springston 13, 6; Oxford 10, 7; Methven 8, 8; Hurunui 8, 9; Rolleston 0, 10; Hornby 0, 11.
Section A – Anzac round: Waihora v West Melton; Ohoka v Hampstead; Ashburton v Southbridge; Saracens v Ashley; Licoln v Glenmark; BDI (bye)
Saturday round: BDI v Ashburton; Glenmark v Ashley; Waihora v Southbridge; Saracens v Ohoka; West Melton v Lincoln; Hampstead (bye)
Section B Anzac round: Hornby v Springston; Hurunui v Darfield; Kaiapoi v Oxford; Rolleston v Southern; Prebbleton v Rakaia; Methven (bye).
Saturday round: Southern v Rakaia; Springston v Methven; Darfield v Prebbleton; Rolleston v Kaiapoi; Oxford v Hornby; Hurunui (bye).
PHOTOS: KAREN CASEY