THE WARILLA-Lake South Gorillas have narrowly avoided back-to-back Group 7 Rugby League losses, after snatching a late 16-12 win over cellar-dwellers Port Kembla at Noel Mulligan Oval on Saturday.
Missing a number of regular first graders through injury and representative duties, the ladder-leading Gorillas took almost an hour to register their first points after the spirited Blacks led 6-0 at half-time.
Veteran Port skipper Mark Simon's nous netted the home side first points in the third minute, when his grubber-kick hit the post and bounced straight into the arms of pivot Josh Maude.
Simon converted for 6-0, but there would be no further addition to the scoreboard for the next 50 minutes.
The Gorillas' attack lacked fluency in the first stanza, with uncharacteristic handling errors and piggy-back penalties ensuring they were unable to get across the stripe.
However, their defence held firm as the Blacks peppered their goal-line on more than one occasion, although Port were perhaps guilty of trying a little too hard while in possession.
Warilla were again on the back foot shortly after the resumption, when Chad Lisch was sin-binned for a professional foul.
Simon's ensuing penalty goal attempt was unsuccessful, but the home team eventually reaped the rewards of the one-man advantage when the halfback successfully attempted a chip and chase inside his own half, before backing up to touch down under the posts for 12-0.
The Gorillas' passes finally began to stick though, and the proverbial dam burst five minutes later when a short ball meant Blake Colgan barged over from close range for a soft try, bringing the score to 12-4.
The ledger was soon levelled when Tyson Brown and Keiran Rankmore crossed in rapid succession.
With six minutes remaining, Gorillas winger Jarryd Pepper crossed to give his side what was ultimately the match-winning buffer.
At Centenary Field, Albion Park-Oak Flats made it back-to- back upsets, knocking off Kiama Knights 32-28.
Leading 16-6 at the break, it looked like Kiama would snap their mid-season slump, but a blistering second half stint from the Eagles, in which they ran in three unanswered four-pointers, set the home side up for their second victory on the trot.
At Nowra Showground, Nowra-Bomaderry escaped with a nail-biting 34-32 victory over Shellharbour.
The Jets led 34-22 late in the game, but were made to sweat it out as the Sharks launched a late comeback.
Meanwhile, Jamberoo overcame Gerringong 30-22 at Kevin Walsh Oval, and Berry downed Milton 32-0 at Berry Showground.