The ISP Panthers were pipped at the post by Newtown Jets as a late try saw them suffer a 12-10 defeat at Henson Park on Saturday.
Both sides had plenty of attacking opportunities on their opponents line in the opening period of play but the defence of both sides was up to the mark to hold the attackers out.
Stanton Albert made his return for the Panthers after more than 12 months out injured, replacing Viliame Kikau in the 15th minute of play.
Sione Katoa was put on report in the 28th minute for lifting a Newtown player over the horizontal. The Jets capitalised on the extra attacking opportunity as Fa’amanu Brown took the line on and beat the Panthers defence close to the line. The conversion was successful from Kurt Capewell, giving the Jets a 6-0 lead.
The Panthers enjoyed time on the Jets line in the final ten minutes but lacked the killer instinct needed to put points on the board. Sione Katoa went the closest when he was held up in the 36th minute.
HALFTIME: Newtown 6 - Panthers 0
The Panthers started the second half the better and it was Josh Hall who got the Panthers on the board when George Jennings put the winger into space. Hall outpaced the defence and touched down in the left hand corner. His conversion hit the post and bounced away to leave the Jets with a two-point lead.
Te Maire Martin put the ball up for Josh Hall in the 65th minute. Hall batted the ball back for George Jennings who made his way over the line. Josh Hall made no mistake with the conversion to give the Panthers a 10-6 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Newtown had a number of chances on the Panthers line in the final 15 minutes. Just when it looked like the Panthers might hold on, Fa’amanu Brown took it upon himself to level the scores.
He scored his second try of the afternoon in the 75th minute of play with Kurt Capewell converting the try from close range to give the Jets a 12-10 lead with 5 minutes to play.
A frantic fifth tackle play in the final minute came up short for the Panthers, ensuring the large crowd at Henson Park went home celebrating victory.
FULLTIME: Newtown 12 - Panthers 10