In an RSL-Whitney Cup season as close as this one, the Newtown Tigers know results like Saturday's could be the difference between playing finals and missing out.
There was a sense of frustration within the Tigers camp on Saturday as they played out a thrilling tie with Macquarie at No. 1 Oval.
While sharing the points with a side which was top of the table just a couple of weeks ago can be seen as a good result, Newtown had put itself in a position to win the match.
After posting 163 on a tricky No. 1 pitch which had seen plenty of cricket during the State Challenge carnival the week prior, Newtown was in a strong position when Steve Skinner's 4/17 from eight overs had Macquarie at 5/86 after 23 overs.
But Ed Haylock (34 not out) and Jack Fuller (19) rebuilt and with one over to go eight runs were needed for a Macquarie victory.
Matt Purse had ball in hand and after conceding just two runs in the first four balls things were looking good, only for Haylock to find the boundary on the penultimate delivery.
A scurried bye on the final ball resulted in the sides sharing the points.
"We had it and we let it slip," four-wicket star Skinner said.
"We scored 160 on that pitch, which was a difficult pitch. There was some popping and some staying low.
"Then we got their main batsmen out and they still needed 40 or 50 runs and they put on that partnership in quick time and should never really have got them.
"We didn't field the best. There was a lot of fumbles and we probably didn't bowl the best."
While the performance in the field was far from terrible, it did show the fine margins in this season's finals race.
The littlest mistakes, like a misfield which results in the batters getting through for a second or third run, can prove costly and Newtown is all too aware of that.
In the prior match with Macquarie back in November, Newtown was 5/121 chasing 149 for victory before collapsing and falling 19 runs short.
"If we got those two wins over Macquarie we'd be right up there," Skinner said.
Newtown now finds itself fourth after Colts scored a huge win over South Dubbo on Saturday to move back into third.
While there was disappointment after Saturday's match there were still positives for the Tigers to look at.
Skinner's performance with the ball was one as he claimed the major wickets of Lachlan Strachan (2), Jason Green (31), Ricky Medway (4), and Ben Strachan (4) while Jack Kempston came up from second grade and made 44 opening the bat.
There's a couple of key games the next couple of weeks.Steve Skinner
"Mat (Skinner) was upbeat after the game and said three points was still a good result because Macquarie is a good side," Skinner said.
"That put a positive spin on it.
"We'll definitely be there or thereabouts for the finals. Unless we get our butts kicked by Macquarie in the night cricket (MoneyQuest Megahit) we should make the finals there and hopefully it's the same in the Whitney Cup.
"There's a couple of key games the next couple of weeks."
Newtown plays Rugby and South Dubbo, the two bottom sides in the competition, in the next two weeks while Colts faces top two Macquarie and CYMS.
Colts will head into those games with plenty of confidence after a Charlie Kempston-inspired win over Souths.
Kempston's turnaround in form continued at No. 3 Oval as he plundered a terrific century against the still winless Hornets.
Kempston belted 152 from just 108 balls, smashing 11 fours and nine sixes in the process.
It led Colts to a dominant 181-victory over Souths and proved Kempston has well and truly overcome his early season struggles.
In seven bats before the Christmas break, Kempston scored six or less on six occasions and had just 36 runs to his name.
But the hard-hitting left-hander has turned things around and after making 40 in a Twenty20 win over Macquarie, he pummeled the Souths attack.
While Kempston's knock was the undoubted highlight, young gun Riley Keen (46 not out off 43 balls) and Ant Atlee (43 off 34) helped Colts to a commanding total of 4/337 from 40 overs.
That proved far too much for Souths, who managed 156 in reply.
Ben Semmler (4/34) and Marty Jeffrey (3/17) did the damage with the ball for Colts.
In Saturday's other match, CYMS scored a convincing 133-run win over Rugby.
Hard-hitting performances from Brock Larance (78) and Ben Patterson (54) powered CYMS to 6/243 and then Rugby could only manage 110 in reply.
Nathan Munro made 55 for the beaten Rugby side while the wickets were shared for CYMS.
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