IT took 10 minutes longer than they hoped but Bathurst Panthers successfully defended their Group 10 premier league crown in front of a home crowd at Carrington Park on Sunday.
A determined Mudgee Dragons side forced the defending champions into an extra-time battle after a defence-oriented match finished 8-all at full-time.
The boot of Doug Hewitt proved the difference in the additional time, with the coach kicking home the winning field goal from close range.
Panthers' Brent Seager repeated his efforts from last year's decider by winning the Dave Scott Medal for best on ground.
"You couldn't script it any better. I'm glad we're on the winning side of it," Hewitt said.
"I have practice field goal shots every now and then at training but you never think it's going to come to that.
"They wanted it more than we did in the first half. We had to go out there and make things happen, and it kept coming down to our defence."
Dragons coach Jack Littlejohn said the Panthers' second half try put a dent in the team's momentum.
"I'm disappointed, I thought we had it. Our defence was so good all game. I can't believe we let it slip like that," he said.
"We lost it ourselves in that extra time and with that one try underneath the posts. It's hard because we dug deep all game. Everyone expected us to come here and get a flogging.
"We're down on troops, we've got five who would have been in our start side out and Timmy Condon who played 80 minutes with a torn hamstring"
When the Dragons gave away two straight penalties it lead to the first points of the match - A Willie Wright goal in the 18th minute.
Neither team could build momentum as both sides continued to shoot themselves in the foot through handling errors or discipline issues.
The Dragons crowd came to life with two minutes remaining in the half, voicing their approval of a huge break down the middle from Ben Thompson.
Nathan Orr made the most of the chance close to the line, fending off an opponent before planting down the ball for the only try of the opening half.
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Panthers looked to their left wing for a response eight minutes into the new half but Louis Murphy was denied on the try line by desperate Dragons defence.
Another Orr fend gave the Dragons centre a chance to score in the 57th minute but a strong tackle from Josh Rivett put him into touch.
However, there was no defence that was going to deny Jack Beasley five minutes later.
The Dragons man spun off several defenders and reached out to score first points in the new half. His missed conversion left the score at 8-2.
Finally, after 67 minutes, the hosts found their opening points of the match when Jack Siejka ran onto a short ball at high speed and crashed through several opponents to score between the uprights.
Willie Wright's conversion levelled it up at 8-all.
Wright's boot failed him on a field goal attempt, which thudded off the right upright, and a 49 metre penalty attempt that had the distance but sailed wide of the mark.
Panthers had one last shot to break the deadlock and they thought they had done so through Blake Seager but he failed to reach the try line in the dying seconds.
In extra-time it was Panthers who had the first chance to put on points and Hewitt obliged, slotting home a field goal.
Panthers held to become the first extra-time grand final winners since themselves in 2006, where they defeated Lithgow Workies 10-4.