NOOSA signalled it would again be a competition heavyweight by downing Caloundra in a tight tussle at Sunshine Beach yesterday.
The Dolphins overcame a 10-point deficit on home soil to beat the Lighthouses 17-13, the victory evoking memories of last year's preliminary final when Noosa scored late to win a classic encounter 21-20.
"We always knew Caloundra was going to be up for this match (because) we just pipped them last year," Noosa captain Jarrod Postle said.
"We know they probably hate us the most out of every team on the Coast after last year but full credit to them, they gave it to us in this game and we were lucky in the end."
The arch rivals came into the clash with impressive season-opening wins under the belt.
They went toe-to-toe in what was a relatively high-quality first half - the scores locked at 3-3 at the break, following penalties to Noosa's Matt George and Caloundra's Mitch Turner.
The match swung Caloundra's way 10 minutes into the second half through a morale-boosting charge by inside centre Joe Lyons, who flattened opposing number Chris Massoud.
The Lighthouses subsequently scored through Kyle Danns, but the conversion was missed by Turner.
The visitors took a 13-3 advantage four minutes later when Danns crossed again, but Turner again missed the mark with the kick.
The Dolphins rallied and struck back with less than 10 minutes remaining when Jay Moffat skirted around the left edge. George's conversion got them to 10-13.
Then with just minutes on the clock, prop Gary McNeil charged over to put the hosts in front and George bagged the extra two points.
"We played with guts," Postle said. "(When down 13-3) we said we had to pull together."
Lighthouses captain Dan Mackenzie limped off the field with a twisted ankle.
"I'm still proud of the boys in this game," he said.
"They (Noosa) only scored in the last three to four minutes to take it away.
"We've got to be happy with that, knowing we had them for 78 minutes of an 80-minute match."
At Sippy Downs, University won its second game in as many outings, defeating defending premier Caboolture, which has opened its campaign with two losses.
Nambour bagged its first win of the season with an away victory over Fraser Coast.
- STEELE TAYLOR
(J Moffat, G McNeil tries, M George 2 conv, M George pen)
(K Danns 2 tries, M Turner pen)
Other results: University 20 def Caboolture 13, Nambour 33 def Fraser Coast 25