A CROWD of several hundred soldiered through the elements as the 41st Challenge Cup pre-season football carnival rolled into day two of three at Nambucca Heads today.
Steady rain fell across the morning but as the scuds cleared the temperature on the pitch went up a notch as teams pressed to secure a place in the main finals to be played tomorrow.
The passion was never the more evident than in the Nambucca Strikers 1 v Westlawn Tigers 2 match as the players grappled and the football took on a tinge of Wrestlemania (see gallery).
Despite the wet, the Coronation Park complex underlined its quality and reputation as a fast draining ground.
Teams came from as far away as Sydney and Queensland for the annual hit-out, while closer to home there was representation by Macksville, Bellingen, Urunga, Port United and Kempsey Saints.
In the open men's, as well as the Strikers 1 and 2 sides, there was a composite development outfit called Young Boys FC, drawing on Nambucca and Macksville's next big things.
Host club president Paul Cue was delighted by the standard.
"Outside of our Strikers it really is all premier league quality," the Nambucca supremo told the Guardian.
"You've got some very strong outfits like Glebe Wanderers and West Pymble from Sydney and Cavanbah who are a team of South Americans from Byron Bay."
In the open men's division, West Pymble, Nerang Eagles and Port United are setting the pace, while in the women's there's a charging pack of Strikers 1, Urunga White, the Macksville Stingers and Port United.
In the Over 35s men, West Pymble, Cavanbah and Glebe are shining, with Northern Storm hot on their hammer.
The open men's finals get underway from 9am tomorrow, and the women's from 7.50am.
Admission to the complex is free and this presents the only chance to see premier league standard football in Nambucca Heads in 2019.
Enjoy the gallery.