A lopsided penalty count condemned the Jersey Flegg Panthers to a 24-6 loss against St George-Illawarra Dragons at Panthers Stadium on Friday.
The Panthers were their own worst enemy, in the eyes of the referee, and were denied any attacking possession for large sections of the contest.
The Panthers marched upfield from the kick-off and opened the scoring when Adam Fearnley turned the football inside to Ratu Nanovu, who charged through a hole and over the line. Brendan Hands converted to hand the Panthers a 6-0 lead after three minutes.
The Panthers continued to dominate and came close to another try in the 9th minute when Hands delivered a short ball to Alex Myles over the try line, but the second rower was denied by desperate Dragons defence.
The Dragons began to dominate proceedings and had numerous opportunities to open their account, but try-saving tackles by Myles and Justin Jones saw the Panthers retain their lead after 18 minutes.
Juvilee Samiu came close scoring in the 23rd minute when he threw himself at a gap in the Panthers goal line defence, but Shawn Blore desperately cut down the Dragons prop inches short of the try line.
Centre Zac Ryan was next to produce a try-saving tackle, stopping Matthew Sheppard in his tracks just short of the stripe in the 27th minute.
The Panthers were finally cracked in the 32nd minute when Jackson Willis threw a cut-out pass to winger Dylan Morris, who linked up with Matthew Deblanco on his inside. Willis equalised with the conversion from out wide.
The Dragons then stole as Willis booted a penalty goal on the stroke of half-time.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 6-8 DRAGONS
Trent Peoples extended the Dragons lead in the 42nd minute with a strong individual try. Luke Gale added the extras to take the Dragons out to a 14-6 lead.
Maurice Trindall turned to Shawn Blore on the short side in an attempt to exploit the Dragons undermanned right-side defence in the 49th minute, but the visitors scurried to take the back rower in to touch.
The Dragons came close to a miraculous try in the 60th minute when the football was shifted desperately and Gale chipped the ball infield to Tyran Wishart, but the five-eighth was wrapped up by Daine Laurie and the Panthers remained in the contest.
Dragons hooker Cooper Purcell seemingly put the game to bed in the 62nd minute when he burrowed over from dummy half, but the Panthers terrifically kept the football from touching the turf.
The Panthers looked set to cross in the 64th minute after a quick shift of hands through the backline, but Dragons centre Jiye Ellis intercepted and linked up with Morris for a length-of-the-field try. Gale added the extras to stretch the margin to 14 points.
The Dragons then wrapped up the victory in the 67th minute when Peoples pounced on a grubber in behind the Panthers goal line defence. Gale failed to convert, and it ended in a 24-6 win by the Dragons.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 6-24 DRAGONS