BATHURST Panthers prop Brent Seager was marking his 150th first grade appearance in the Group 10 competition, so it was fitting that he and his pack led the way in a 32-12 win over the Oberon Tigers on Friday night.
Playing under lights at Carrington Park, Seager helped set the tone for the match as he took two carries in the Panthers' opening set and worked just as hard to restrict the yards earned by the Tigers.
When he finally left the field with a tick over seven minutes remaining, many of those spectators who had braved the crisp night air clapped off one of Panthers' most consistent metre-earners for many seasons.
"He's one of those guys you get up and play for, every game; he never lets you down, big Seags, and he's been an inspiration to this club for years now and years to come, I hope," Panthers coach and halfback Doug Hewitt said.
"I love playing off the back of him, so it was a good win for him."
The Panthers' left edge caused their rivals huge headaches in the first half, with four of the hosts' five tries coming on that side.
The first came after an error-riddled opening from the Tigers, who twice put kicks out on the full, knocked-on in front of their own sticks and then, when deep in Panthers' territory, relieved the pressure with a soft penalty.
Winger Louis Murphy then crossed after Panthers had forced a line dropout.
Murphy had his double soon after before a brilliant ball from five-eighth Willie Wright put left centre Kevin Murphy over untouched.
Wile the Tigers finally had some joy 13 minutes out from the break when Farren Lamb took a quick penalty tap and caught the Panthers napping, the men in black hit back.
Josh Rivett won a foot race to a Hewitt kick in behind the line, while Blake Lawson drifted to the left edge and linked with a charging Josh Small as the Panthers skipped out to a 26-6 halftime lead.
Hewitt praised his pack's effort in helping build that 20-point advantage.
"I think I put a lot of it down to the forwards. We were going forwards before we starting attacking out wide, then when those big fellas roll forward, it draws a few defenders in. Our left side made the most of that," he said.
Panthers only crossed once in the second half, prop Jake Betts spinning out of a tackle and crashing over next to the sticks. Wright converted to make it 32-6.
Still, what Panthers delivered in defence - much of it on their own line - in the final 25 minutes was impressive.
The Tigers enjoyed a host of attacking football as the clock ticked down, but the Panthers pack which had established the lead then helped to preserve it.
Though hooker Richie Packham sliced through with a tick under three minutes left - at a time when Lawson was in the sin-bin - it was only a consolation try for the Tigers.
Hewitt was delighted with the defensive effort.
"That's what I put this win down to - our D tonight was unreal. Our intensity, our line speed, everyone was in it for each other," he said.
"I think we had three 18s blokes backing up for us tonight, which is massive.
"Young [Brad] Fearnley, I think he played 80 minutes and was one of our best in defence. So full credit to them."