PORT Macquarie Sharks captain coach Matt Shipway paid tribute to his opposition after Group 3 grand final success on Sunday.
The Sharks triumphed 20-8 over Port City Breakers at Regional Stadium, but the cross-town rivals made them work for it in the biggest game of the year.
It was tough and with plenty of niggle, especially in the first half of the contest, but the Sharks came through.
Zak Aylward's try sealed the win for the Sharks on Sunday. It went with four pointers to Tom Maguire, Luke Sprague and Ben Cudmore.
Kurt Lewis and Richie Roberts found the line for the Breakers, who were gallant and brave on the day.
"Credit to them and credit to Benny [coach Ben Sprague] for getting them up during the week," Shipway said.
"Because it would have been hard, after losing to us three times during the year.
"It definitely would have been a mental challenge for them, but they were up to it.
He said the Breakers' resilience was extraordinary.
"They didn't fold at all. They stuck to us the whole game," Shipway said.
"That's why they [grand finals] are so hard to win. They don't get given to you, you've got to play for them."