The NSW Waratahs ground their way to victory in their Super Rugby opener, prevailing 19-13 over the Force on a wet night at Allianz Stadium.
Daryl Gibson's men trailed 13-9 at the break after being exposed at the breakdown by their bogey team, but rallied to record a hard-fought win in front of a disappointing crowd.
"We'll take that four points, bank that and get on the plane tomorrow [Sunday]," Gibson said. "We could have easily dropped that game tonight. We stuck in there, ground it out and got the result."
Aside from last year's resounding 36-point victory, the Waratahs have struggled in recent years against the Force and have found it difficult to impart their style on the match.
Saturday evening, in their first proper hit-out of 2017, looked like it would be no different as the Waratahs struggled early for territory.
Enter big Will Skelton.
After one of the most uninspiring half-time interviews with Fox Sports – it was clear he wasn't in the mood to talk following a number of dropped balls - Skelton emerged from the sheds a different man.
Like a raging bull, Skelton bulldozed over the top of former Bulldogs winger Curtis Rona to give the Waratahs their only try of the evening - to go with four Reece Robinson penalties - and spark some life into his side's attack.
For all the chat about him coming back from a stint in the UK a far better player, perhaps it wasn't all propaganda as the big second-rower finished with eight runs for 45 metres.
Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said he was "very proud" of Skelton and stoked to get the win given the conditions.
"It was a pretty average game," Hooper told Fox Sports. "Happy to get the points at the start of the season. Really happy with the guys, particularly in those conditions."
Sydney was drenched with 10 millimetres of rain in the lead-up to kick-off, which noticeably affected the quality of of play throughout.
Wet weather generally translates to footy in the middle of the park, but the Waratahs weren't afraid to spread the ball wide and give their new backline opportunities to gel together.
This, however, was the exception and not the rule with number of backs kept relatively quiet, through little fault of their own.
Israel Folau barely had an impact, making 14 metres from three runs in contrast to debutant Irae Simone, who made the equal most runs of any NSW player with eight for a return of 42 metres.
"We've clearly set a goal to play attacking rugby and it is frustrating that obviously the conditions limited that ability," Gibson said.
"At times we were very smart. We had to kick more tonight [and there were] some excellent contestable possessions. We put a lot of pressure on Dane Hayllett-Petty who is good in that area.
"Overall we struggled for fluency in our attacking game."
The Waratahs wasted no time getting their season off on the right note, with Tolu Latu orchestrating an over the ball penalty that replacement kicker Reece Robinson slotted with ease.
It was exactly the same story on the 10-minute mark with Latu's clever work at the breakdown and Robinson's accurate kicking helping to extend the Waratahs buffer to six points.
Latu was exuberant and popped up at the right moments, a sign his time under Michael Cheika at the Wallabies late last year was very much worthwhile.
The visitors found their groove and dominated territory from there on, consistently putting the Waratahs defence under pressure but it wasn't good enough in the end.
"Although I'm really angry we lost that game and I think we should have won it, I do feel like the energy and the space the team in is a good one," said Force coach Dave Wessels. "We need to learn how to win and it's not good enough that we lose concentration."
Sekope Kepu was sent to the bin after a number of repeated infringements, and minutes later Force five-eighth Jono Lance cruised through space to score under the posts and give his side a slim one-point lead.
One of the most salivating battles of the evening was that of Tatafu Polota-Nau against his former NSW teammates.
The 141-cap Waratah came onto the field in the 48th minute and immediately tried to get under the skin of a NSW pack, walking, albeit light-heartedly, with a glare in his eyes towards the opposition.
However, the back-slapping came shortly after for NSW when Tom Robertson, in his new position of loose-head prop, dominated his opposite man Jermaine Ainsley to win an important penalty.
Polota-Nau didn't have his best game, missing a lineout in which NSW kicked downfield that was then dropped cold by Dane Haylett-Petty, usually a more than reliable player at the back.
This was, in truth, a dour game that lacked atmosphere with a small crowd braving the wet to see two tries in 80 minutes of football.