The Jersey Flegg Panthers paid the price for a slow start after settling for a 22-all draw with Sydney Roosters at BlueBet Stadium on Friday.
The Panthers conceded the opening four tries of the contest and despite a more spirited showing in the second half, they couldn't quite steal the victory as a late conversion attempt from the sideline sailed wide.
After a sustained period of attack the Roosters opened the scoring as five-eighth Luke Knight broke the line and found backrower Jacob Preston in support. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the visitors led 4-0 after 13 minutes.
Knight returned the favour via an offload to Preston three minutes later to give the Roosters an 8-0 lead.
Roosters winger Vuate Karawalevu then grabbed a quickfire double, finding himself unmarked on the right edge in the 24th and 28th minutes. Fortunately for the Panthers, the goal-kicking from the visitors was off the mark, keeping the advantage to 16-0.
The Panthers put themselves in the contest just before the break as forward Mavrik Geyer pounced on a Roosters error. Five-eighth Niwhai Puru knocked the conversion over to reduce the lead to 10 points.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 6 – Roosters 16
The comeback seemed on as Logan Cohen, named at fullback but playing on the wing for the Panthers, won the race to a cheeky grubber five minutes after the break. Puru’s conversion made the score 16-12 to Penrith.
However the Roosters hit back ten minutes later as centre Jack Mossman punched through the Panthers defence and crashed over. Halfback Sandon Smith was on target with the conversion and the visitors’ lead was out to 22-12.
With five minutes to play the Panthers kept their chances alive as prop Liam Henry dived over from close range. Puru's successful conversion reduced the Roosters lead to four points.
The Panthers suddenly had a shot at victory in the final minute as halfback Hayden Bonanno chipped over the top and winger Ethan Clark-Wood somehow grounded the ball just inside the in-goal. But Puru's attempt at conversion, from the sideline and staring into the driving rain, missed by a barest of margins.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 22 - Roosters 22