With rain, hail and shine hanging above Cargo Oval on Saturday, the race was on for the points at the end of the literal rainbow in the next paddock as Canowindra and Cargo played off in a Woodbridge Cup mini-final on Saturday.
In the end it was Canowindra who picked up two crucial points in the race for fifth in the cup in the hard-fought local derby, which ended 30-14 the Tigers' way.
The Tigers took the early lead, up 18-8 at half-time off the back of tries to Semisi Tupou, Brydon Hughes and Steve Tahere despite the best efforts of the Blue Heelers' Trey Lucas crossing the line twice.
The Blue Heelers came out hard after the break, but couldn't capitalise as the Tigers found another through Aaron Earsman to make it 24-8 and give the Blue Heelers' a huge battle to get into the game.
They tried, with Nathan Brooking crossing over and Sam Sweeting converting to give them a sniff at 24-14 with six minutes to go, but when their next push forward was cut off, Canowindra made no mistake, sweeping up the other end and locking the ball down their attacking end.
Tatafu Na'aniumotu hit the scoreboard with two minutes left and Robb Burr's third and final conversion for the afternoon bounded off both uprights to go through to seal the final margin.
Canowindra coach Dan Barclay said he was "very happy" to have ground out the win in the sleet and the rain, as well as take the chocolates in one of the Woodbridge Cup's biggest derbies.
"I was talking to [Cargo captain-coach] Anthony Redfern before the game and they were out for redemption for when they came down the road for us," he said.
"They turned up today and gave us everything they had and kept coming."
The key for the Tigers, who now are locked in a pitched battle with Peak Hill for the last remaining finals spot, was completing their sets.
We're still in the hunt, we're probably making it as hard as we possibly can but we're going to play for the season and give it a real good shot but we have made it pretty hard for ourselves.Cargo captain-coach Anthony Redfern
"The next job is Molong at Molong and that'll be a hard task but we have the potential to do it, we want that fifth spot, we're hungry for it," Barclay said.
"When we held the ball we were able to grind out the win and persevere with it but we had too many mistakes in our game."
He lauded the work of young fullback Frazer Ryder, who was a livewire for the Tigers all throughout the game.
"I've commented on him every week, he's come into first grade after playing youth league last year and he's an amazing player," Barclay said, also mentioning the experience of Dean Murray's kicking game and Blaise Marsh and Harry Whatman.
While Canowindra and Peak Hill now have a two-game buffer over the Blue Heelers, Redfern is absolutely not ruling his side out of the running with a month to go.
"We're still in the hunt, we're probably making it as hard as we possibly can but we're going to play for the season and give it a real good shot but we have made it pretty hard for ourselves," he said.
A win on Saturday would have gone a long way to making a finals dream a reality with a tough run to come, but Redfern said the Tigers were simply too good.
"Hats off to Canowindra, they just played 80 minutes of football and I think they completed a lot of sets and came away with the chocolates," he said.
"It was a good hard game from both sides but completion and discipline got them over the line. They did a really good job.
"I thought we defended okay, on our line we had a few lapses which cost us but for me it was our attack with the ball with uncompleted sets, giving the ball back to them and not being able to defend our line really cost us."
Redfern picked Ben Wallwork and Bill Redmond out as two of the Blue Heelers' best, saying the pair's defensive efforts were fantastic.
- CANOWINDRA TIGERS 30 (Semisi Tupou, Brydon Hughes, Steve Tahere, Aaron Earsman, Tim Roberts tries; Rob Burr 3 goals) def CARGO BLUE HEELERS 14 (Trey Lucas 2, Nathan Brooking tries, Sam Sweeting conversion)
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