A five-goal final term helped Wagga Tigers shrug off a stern challenge from Turvey Park in the return of Good Friday football.
Tigers kicked four of the first five goals of the all-important final term to come away with a hard-fought 14-point victory, 12.13 (85) to 11.5 (71) in front of a good crowd at Maher Oval.
Nathan Cooke proved the hero for Tigers in the final quarter, kicking three of their five goals after the Bulldogs made a game of it on the back of a big third term.
Turvey Park breathed life into the contest with five of the six goals in the third quarter to reduce the margin to one point at three-quarter-time.
With the stage set, it was a few of Tigers' big names that lifted and helped continue their undefeated start to the season.
Wagga Tigers coach Troy Maiden praised his team's ability to respond after the Bulldogs came hard at them.
"I actually spoke to the boys about that after the game. We spoke about a number of things but one of the things I did say was that you showed some real character to fight back and get the game back on our terms after being challenged so hard at the end of the third quarter," Maiden said.
"We did, and we had to fight back pretty hard so it was good."
There has been a boom about Tigers heading into the season but it was the Bulldogs who probably won most admirers on Friday.
Missing a couple of key players, the Bulldogs hung tight for the first half and then took the game on and made their move in the third term.
While Tigers ultimately went on to claim the four points, the Bulldogs lost no admirers on the big stage.
Maiden was frustrated with how Tigers played at times but paid tribute to the Bulldogs' effort.
"I'm a little bit frustrated with how we played at times but full credit to Turvey, they played well," he said.
"They took up our space, but at times our ball use and decision making was poor, so that was probably the most frustrating part for me. But take nothing away from Turvey, they played well. They're a good side."
Clint Shields made the most of his opportunities and kept the Bulldogs in it with six goals.
Daniel Leary impressed at centre-half-back and was Turvey Park's best, while fellow defenders Harry Woods and Ryan Shaw were strong.
Tigers had a lot of players come in and out of the game, but Dylan Morton was rock solid at centre-half-back.
It was a day for defenders as both teams turned the ball over going into attack.
Jesse Manton was electric for Tigers in the first half, while Reid Gordon, Bailey Wileman, Tom Keogh and Tom Osmotherly showed their worth.
Tigers picked up the one injury concern with Jackson Kelly failing to finish with a quad injury, while Jackson Hughes injured his shoulder for Turvey Park.
WAGGA TIGERS (85)
2.3 6.8 7.12 12.13
TURVEY PARK (71)
1.3 3.3 8.5 11.5
Goals: (Tigers) N Cooke 3, N Ryan 2, B Kelly 2, B Myers 2, S Pearce, B Wileman, J Manton; (Turvey Park) C Shields 6, B Ashcroft 2, A Carroll, M Sykes, B Lewington.
Best: (Tigers) D Morton, R Gordon, B Kelly, S Driscoll, T Osmotherly, X Lyons; (Turvey Park) D Leary, C Shields, J Sykes, H Stapleton, H Woods, A Carroll.