The heat and the Bulldogs have bullied a game Northern Tigers in an Andrew Johns Cup season opener at Scully Park.
North Coast finished strong, running in three unanswered tries to beat the home side 34-10 on Saturday morning, February 3.
The mercury officially climbed into the low 30s, although it felt hotter. But despite the oppressive conditions, both sides produced 60 minutes of entertaining football.
Lock Luke Jeffrey - named the Tigers' player of the match after an arresting offensive performance marked by a series of tackle breaks - said the home side would take plenty of positives out of the game.
"It's really hot out there," he said.
"And the ball's so wet that you can't really get a good hold of it.
"That accounts for all the drop balls. It's just been a hard match."
"First hit out of the year, though - I'm quite happy about it. We went all right," added the Gunnedah-raised forward, who has just started year 10 at Farrer.
"[There are a] few things we need to work on, but we're getting there. First week of the season, we've still got heaps left."
Under a pale blue, largely cloudless sky, the North Coast opened the scoring in the 12th minute when fullback Kden Carter - the Bulldogs' player of the match - produced a big right-foot step attacking the tryline. five-eighth Bodhi Kennedy missed the conversion: 4-0.
Four minutes later, it was 10-0 after centre Aidan Langham unleashed a tackle-breaking, long-range run down the left edge and scored under the posts. Kennedy converted the try of the match: 10-0.
It was not until the 21st minute that the Tigers asserted themselves in a real meaningful way, with rangy centre Oliver Milsom running on to a short ball from five-eighth Hamish Adamthwaite close to the line. Adamthwaite added the extras: 10-6 Bulldogs.
The visitors took momentum into the break when centre Jackson Cheney raced over from 10m out, after a big hole opened up on the right edge. Kennedy converted from in front: 16-6.
The Northern Tigers needed to score first in the second half, and that happened: quick hands in the 36th minute sent centre Phelix Lavea over in the corner. It was unconverted: 16-10 Bulldogs.
But after that, it was all North Coast. Tries to Langham, halfback Frazer Merrick and prop Jack Stevens propelled the Bulldogs through the furnace and on to victory.
NORTH COAST 34 (Aidan Langham 2, Kden Carter, Jackson Cheney, Frazer Merrick, Jack Stevens tries; Bhodi Kennedy 5 goals) d NORTHERN TIGERS 10 (Oliver Milsom, Phelix Lavea tries; Hamish Adamthwaite goal)