When Western Rams' livewire Jesse Wighton punched through Thirroul Butchers' defensive line with 10 minutes to go, it looked as though the Forbes speedster was going to give the men in green an improbable lead.
Instead, Butchers' fullback Leigh Higgins swooped on Wighton, dragging him over the sideline to give his side the get out of jail card it needed to go on to win a gruelling 14-10 round four Presidents Cup match at Wade Park.
Wighton's missed opportunity was one of many tries gone begging for the Rams as the hosts were knocking on the door for what felt like the entire fourth quarter of the contest.
And while Western halfback Harry Siejka rued the opportunities his side missed in the latter stages of the match, he couldn't help but praise a makeshift squad that's matching it with the state's best.
"I'm really proud of the boys," Siejka said.
"It's trying stuff what we're doing. It's a team that's thrown together from everywhere around the Central West.
"We've got limited training options and I don't think we've been embarrassed in any game we've played... We've always been tough."
Things started smoothly for the Rams as Bailey Hartwig's solo effort saw Cam Greenhalgh's men shoot out to a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes, before Butchers' Harry Leddy hit back just seven minutes later.
Another four-pointer followed for the Butchers when hooker Ryan Fletcher planted a grubber a centimetre shy of the dead ball line.
A pair of Butchers' penalty goals ensued, giving the away side a 14-6 lead as they looked to soak up a ten-minute period where Leigh Higgins was sent to the bin for a professional foul.
But, the Rams had other ideas.
When their next opportunity came knocking, Jackson Brien catapulted himself through a hole off a Brendan Hands ball, bringing themselves within four points with 15 minutes to go.
The aforementioned Wighton near-miss, as well as a host of razor close efforts down in Butchers' territory, saw the Rams pull up short.
"We had a lot of chances there in the last 10 minutes and if we got one of those, we might be standing here talking about a win instead of a loss," Siejka said.
"If we got a few things right in the first half, it would have panned out better in the second.
"Everyone got stuck in and I'm really proud of everyone. We had a lot of chances in the second half but just couldn't get one."
The Rams next assignment will be against the Maitland Pickers.
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