A late double wasn't quite enough as the Jersey Flegg Panthers suffered a 12-10 defeat to Parramatta Eels in their final trial match at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
After being held scoreless for 55 minutes, the Panthers scored two quickfire tries to set up an exciting finish, but the comeback fell short as the Eels held on for victory.
It was an end-to-end affair early on, but neither side was able to apply the finishing touch to their chances, with pre-season rust rearing its head.
That was until the 18th minute, when Eels centre JP Nohra reeled in a grubber that was headed for the dead ball line. Kyle Schenider kicked the conversion to make it 6-0 to the Eels.
Parramatta doubled their lead soon after, as forward James Tosi crashed over, and Schneider added the extras.
Taylan May put the Panthers on the attack in the 31st minute when he got on the outside of Parramatta’s defence and surged upfield with blistering speed, but his teammates were unable to capitalise on his efforts.
The Panthers had one more try-scoring opportunity on the stroke of halftime but were unable to crack the Eels’ defence and entered the break scoreless.
HALF-TIME: EELS 12 – PANTHERS 0
The Panthers struggled for good field position early in the second half, the Eels pinning them down in their own end.
It appeared a lost cause for the Panthers, before they roared back to life in the latter stages to set up a grandstand finish.
With one of their first opportunities of the Eels goal line, the Panthers went down the short side where hulking second rower Ratu Nanovo barged over, reducing the margin to 8 points.
Then, after withstanding an attack on their own line, the Panthers marched up the other end and scored another to put themselves within touching distance.
Luke Sommerton jumped out of dummy half and sent Brad Fearnley over with a short ball, and the conversion by Dylan White made it 12-10 with eight minutes remaining.
The Panthers looked set to complete their comeback after the fulltime siren when Dylan White kicked for an unmarked Logan Cohen, but a cruel bounce denied them as the Eels withstood Penrith’s spirited fightback.
FULL-TIME: EELS 12 – PANTHERS 10