Waratahs stalwart John Serong has finished his storied coaching career on a high after leading his charges to a third grade premiership on Saturday.
In a game marred with send-offs and intermittent rain, it was the Tahs who proved their salt, eeking out a 20-15 victory over Hay at Conolly Rugby Complex.
"it was a real grand final. It wasn’t pretty at all and that's what happens in finals,” Serong said.
"Hay beat us in the major semi but we regrouped well and it’s a great way to go out for my last ever game.”
The Cutters were the stronger of the two throughout the regular season and looked to stretch their dominance with an early try in the big dance.
Inside centre Will Nadin did exactly that, stutter-stepping his way through a sea of blue to score under the sticks in the 10th minute.
Fullback Mosese Koroi converted for a seven-point advantage but it was the Tahs who dominated from there on in.
Backed by a vocal support crew, the home side pressed ahead and set up camp inside the Cutters' 22.
It was only a matter of time before Hay’s defensive line burst and tighthead prop George Paseka dealt the hammer blow in the 21st minute, barging over from two metres out to get his side on the scoreboard.
Tim King's missed conversion made it a two-point ball game but the Tahs five-eighth made amends less than a minute later, slotting a penalty goal to put his side ahead 8-7.
Ill-discipline cost the Tahs late in the first half and Koroi made them pay, slotting a penalty goal of his own to take back the lead 10-7, a margin that held until half time oranges after King missed a late three-pointer.
Hay’s lead, however, was short lived and orange soon turned to yellow in a horror start to the second half.
Blindside flanker Sandy Pye was given his marching orders for repeated team infringements and the Tahs took full advantage, hooker Cam McAulliffe barging his way over in the 36th minute to take back the lead.
King's conversion took the score to 15-10 but the five-eighth's fortune was short-lived after being banished to the sin bin just eight minutes later.
14-a-side footy suited Hay and the visitors steamed ahead, securing prime real estate inside the Tahs’ 22 before powering through 13 phases in an impressive display of ball retention.
Tahs held grimly on but Koroi proved too slippery in the 55th minute, sliding through an errant tackle to lock things up at 15-all.
A tough conversion from out wide proved a bridge too far for Koroi and the composed Tahs were too good from the kick off, recovering possession and stringing phases together to heap pressure on the Cutters.
It was again Paseka who eventually bulldozed his way over the chalk, handing his side a 15-10 lead with two minute to play.
A missed conversion kept the Cutters' dream alive and the visitors rallied late in the piece to force a Tahs error in the final play.
However, poor handling proved their downfall as a double knock on ended their premiership dream, securing Serong's Waratahs legacy in the process.