A wild melee, five red cards, a handful of yellows, and near 100 points scored made for what Rhinos captain Matt Neill described as a "crazy" New Holland Agriculture Cup clash on Saturday.
The Rhinos loss to Bathurst CSU at Apex Oval was marred by the first-half brawl, which resulted in the hosts' Chris Sellings and Andrew Seton being marched by referee Brandon Kreymborg, along with the students' Andrew Nougher and Kam Norris.
When the visitors also Matt Dalton shown red soon after for an unrelated incident the match turned into near-farcical circumstances, with players not sticking to positions and uncontested scrums being used late on.
Despite playing with 12 men for much of the contest, CSU was able to maintain pressure on the first-placed Narromine by scoring a 53-31 bonus point win.
"I don't know how to explain it. It was crazy," Neill said.
"I've never played in a game like that."
After a quiet start to the match things burst into life "out of nowhere" after Seton reacted to being hit in a tackle.
A brawl then ensued while Sellings and Nougher broke off into their own fight, resulting in red cards.
Neill was also shown a yellow card, incredibly the first of his career, for dissent following the referee's decisions and the sides soon played 12-on-12 briefly.
"Personally I hate fighting but I really don't think a lot could have been done to prevent it," Neill admitted.
"Sometimes when grown men are running and tackling as hard as they can things boil over, especially after the season we've had.
"Though I don't think we were the instigators this time."
With so much space on the field after the cards the points flowed.
The hosts scored four tries in a 15 minute period at one point to come roaring back into the contest.
It wasn't enough though, leaving Neill and his men still without a win before the final two rounds of the season.
Ririwai Fox scored a double in the loss, while Josh Kearines, Rodney Jackson, and Dylan Edwards also crossed.
"There was so much running," Neill said of the game.
"There wasn't really positions and really, it was fun. There was a lot of points scored."
CSU centre and skipper Jack Keppel felt the same as Neill post-game.
"It's probably the weirdest game I've ever been a part of and I know the Rhinos boys thought it was pretty crazy as well," he said.
"We just managed to hang on. They had a big second half charge ... but we scored a few more tries and held on well."
The Rhinos host third-placed Mudgee next weekend before rounding out their season with a trip to Narromine.
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