THE Quirindi Lions have fallen agonisingly short of claiming their first victory of the Central North season against the Scone Brumbies.
Heading into the game without a win to their name, an 80-minute effort saw the Lions claw their way into a winning position only for both sides deadlocked at 35 a piece when the final whistle blew.
Ben Grant was one of the Lions best on the day, converting three tries as well as scoring one of his own.
Lions coach Col McKenzie said his side was "really unlucky not to win" Saturday's game.
"We kicked a penalty with about two minutes left to hit the front, but unfortunately we gave away a penalty, which allowed Scone to level the score," McKenzie told the Leader.
"It was a close game all day, both sides went try for try.
"Our guys have been guilty of losing concentration in the second half of games this season, but their second half was better than their first on Saturday, which is great."
McKenzie said he was "really pleased with the side's effort" throughout the game.
"They really were outstanding all day," he said.
"We have been looking to improve each week and I think we are doing that.
"On Saturday we still had a full reserve grade team and actually signed five new players, so things are looking up."
The Lions will now look to a bye this weekend before travelling to take on Narrabri on June 1.
"The bye has come at the ideal time for us considering we have 20 players out at the moment," McKenzie said.
"A lot of those guys are out with injury and illness, so it we can expect them back after the bye.
"In terms of long-term injuries, at this stage I think we only have two guys who are out for the season.
"So from that perspective we are looking pretty good.
"So the bye will be a really good chance for our guys to rest up a bit before Narrabri."