They came from everywhere, chests pumped out and capes of bravado draped around their necks.
Those watching from in front of the humble Jamison Oval pavilion took half a step forward to try to work out how the scuffle had started, and to look for an early answer as to how it may end.
Then there was Wests coach Craig Robberds, left chuckling over what was simply "more push and shove than anything else". But he would soon be packing up the ground with a tinge of frustration about what came next.
The Uni-Norths Owls got their John I Dent Cup campaign back on track with a 26-19 triumph over Wests at Jamison Oval on Saturday.
The Owls have now given themselves some breathing space in fourth on the competition table, keeping the Queanbeyan Whites at bay in fifth place.
But Wests were again left to rue what might have been after slumping to their sixth loss of the season - a frustrating record given they did enough to split points with Tuggeranong in a thrilling draw earlier this season.
"It's disappointing, we're competitive but just not able to get over the line," Robberds said.
"There were just too many errors, a lot of knock-ons and they played well. We couldn't get out of our own half in the first half, it probably took 30 minutes for us to get past the halfway line and that wore us out to be honest.
"They played well, they've got a good side in the backs, they were just a bit too good."
But the bulk of the try scoring damage was done in the forwards, with William Sankey crossing twice and David Bennett scoring one of his own for the Owls, while inside centre Joshua Gray waved the flag for the speedsters.
"Honestly just maintaining possession [is the secret to finding consistency], especially over the past couple of weeks, we have just given it away too easily, sadly," Robberds said.
"It's really letting us down, not being able to hold the ball for long enough phases to build pressure. We're giving it away too easily. It's something to work on for next week.
"The front-row did very well, we got a lot of scrum penalties but we just couldn't capitalise from there.
"We'll have to bounce back next week against a fired up [Canberra] Royals who got belted today."
To some, "belted" might be an understatement, after the Tuggeranong Vikings whipped the previously unbeaten Royals 54-17 at Phillip Oval.
Well, it wasn't a stunner in Robberds' eyes. While Royals deservedly sit in the competition's top two, Tuggeranong have been edging closer towards breaking the shackles for weeks.
"Vikings have been building well, they've only had a couple of close losses to Gungahlin which they could have easily won," Robberds said.
"In one of those games they had a lot of their best players out. They've been playing well, so I'm not surprised they got up."
A winning streak was not all Royals let slip from their grasp - Tuggeranong walked away with the Wal Scollen Cup and Bob Hitchcock Territory Shield as well.
Royals' defeat saw them leapfrogged on the competition table by the Gungahlin Eagles after they cruised to a 42-8 victory over Easts at Griffith Oval.
A late Gungahlin barrage saw them fly back to the top of the table after a seven-day stint in second.
AT A GLANCE
John I Dent Cup round 10: UNI-NORTHS OWLS 26 (W Sankey 2, J Gray, D Bennett tries; J Gray cons) bt WESTS 19 (F Kaihea 2, D Meredith tries; D Meredith 2 cons) at Jamison Oval. TUGGERANONG VIKINGS54 bt CANBERRA ROYALS 17 at Phillip Oval. GUNGAHLIN EAGLES 42 bt EASTS 8 at Griffith Oval.