THE Oberon Tigers remain winless in the second half of the Group 10 competition after going down in a contentious affair against Lithgow Workies 14-6 on Sunday.
The crowd surged in late to fill the Oberon Rugby League ground on a glorious sunny afternoon.
With Oberon still missing the services of stars Josh Starling and Abel Lefaoseu, a reshuffled Tigers outfit lined up against the form team of the competition in the Lithgow Wolves.
It was an even start to the game as neither team could gain the upper hand for the first 20 minutes.
Just as Oberon were beginning to dominate with line breaks, a loose ball was swooped upon by Workies deep in the Tigers' territory.
Nippy Workies half Eli Fenton was able to hare downfield 60 metres to post the first try of the match against the run of play.
The Tigers managed to recover, and Ty Simmonds joined the fray, using his massive frame to scatter Workies defenders.
With Lithgow scrambling to defend their tryline, it was another run against the play by the Workies' speedy winger Keelan Bresca that resulted in the second long-range try to the visitors to register a 10-0 lead late in the first half.
To further compound Oberon's woes, five-eight Farren Lamb, suffering the effects of the flu, had to be replaced earlier on in the half, thereby drawing further on the Tigers' already depleted reserves.
Despite the lopsided scoreline, the Tigers definitely had more chances than Lithgow in the first half and shaded the visitors.
On the siren at half-time, Lithgow were once again put on high alert as Oberon's winger Elias Dukes made a break and sped towards the tryline. With that threat snuffed out, a relieved Workies team headed for the sheds.
The Tigers resumed the second half with the same level of resolve and determination they showed in the first half, pushing and probing the Lithgow defensive structures to breaking point.
On the back of an Andy Adams break, Oberon set up a series of sweeping raids that saw both Elias Dukes and Matt Ranse come perilously close to opening the Tigers' account.
With 15 minutes remaining, Tye Siakisoni split the Wolves' line and found the in-form Richie Peckham, who capitalised immediately to send Jackson Brien surging over under the posts.
The crowd could sense an upset with the Tigers in hot pursuit at 10-6. The Oberon forwards were working themselves to a standstill and the likes of Jake Dawe, Nik Booth and Zac Rowlandson were engaged in a fierce running battle with the rugged Lithgow pack.
Ranse, Peckham and Blake Fitzpatrick were able to find holes in a tiring Lithgow defence and with the Tigers looking ready to pounce, the rub of the green eluded the home side as Dawe was involved in a minor scuffle after a high shot from Corey Wilmott and run-in with Workies hard-man Jono Van Veen.
As the dust settled, the crowd were left stunned as Dawe was marched to the sin bin in the 32nd minute of the game, leaving the Tigers short one man. Further confusing the Oberon faithful was the fact the Tigers were given the ensuing penalty!
As Nick Booth took the penalty, he was met with another high shot from Wilmott that knocked him senseless. With the game threatening to crash out of control, Booth was taken off for a Head Injury Assessment. As Ty Simmonds made his way on to the field as the HIA replacement, the interchange officials stepped in and ruled that because the HIA was not a result of foul play, there could be no 'free' replacement.
With the Tigers now down to only 11 men and Lithgow's ill-discipline seemingly going unchecked, Peckham defied the odds by wrestling his way over next to the posts as the Tigers players and crowd erupted in jubilation.
However, instead of taking the lead for the Tigers, Peckham was called back by the referee.
With four minutes remaining, the brave and outnumbered Oberon outfit were running on empty tanks. In the dying seconds of the match, a Workies overlap netted the visitors the last try of the match to clinch victory 14-6.
The league tag girls showed their fighting spirit by coming from behind to draw with Workies 16-all and, in doing so, produced the try of the day.
Majayda Darcy toyed with the opposition down the sideline before sending the ball in-field in heavy traffic to Tahlia Nugent, who managed to find the flying Danielle Fisher in support to finish off a 70-metre effort.
The Tigers travel to Orange this Sunday to face the ladder-leading Hawks.