The St George Illawarra Dragons National Youth Competition team were defeated 32-30 by the Parramatta Eels at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta on Saturday.
The Young Dragons scored five tries in the narrow loss with second-rower Wes Lolo securing a hat-trick of tries.
Co-Head Coaches Ben Hornby and Dean Young made the one change in personnel to team announced in midweek with winger Dee Jay Harris replacing Izaac Thompson on the flank.
However, despite the attacking rearrangements by the visitors, it was the home side who made the most of their early opportunities with the ball.
The Eels took an early four-point lead in the fifth minute through winger Fabian Goodall after bolting through the Red V defence.
The hosts doubled their advantage shortly thereafter courtesy of lock Jeff Markus in the ninth minute.
Eels centre Nathan Davis converted to make it 10-0.
Yet the visitors rallied through second-rower Jack Bird who was the beneficiary of winger Sitiveni Moceidreke’s quick feet and offloading the 18th minute.
Moceidreke converted to make it 10-6.
The hosts however inflicted two further blows to re-extend their lead out to 20-6 at the interval.
Eels winger Halaufa Lavaka struck first on the halfhour mark before fellow flanker Goodall notched his second of the encounter via an intercept on the siren.
Davis converted one of his two attempts.
Dragons second-rower Wes Lolo took matters into his own hands when play resumed by weaving his way through four markers en route to scoring in the 46th minute.
Dragons hooker Hayden McCrae converted to lower deficit to 20-12.
Dragons winger Dee Jay Harris later got his name on the score sheet via a darting run down the inside edge in the 52nd minute.
McCrae converted to narrow the deficit to two points.
With momentum clearly in the visitors favour, Lolo crossed for his second of the encounter on the hourmark to seize the lead for the Red V.
McCrae converted to make it 24-20.
Lolo seized the opportunity to secure his hat-trick nine minutes from time after managing to side-step the Eels waivering defence.
McCrae converted to make it 30-20.
However, in a tense finish the Eels struck two late converted tries to claim the spoils.
Eels centre Davis was the first across the stripe five minutes from time before centre John Falou two minutes later.
Davis converted both goals to make it 32-30..
Parramatta Eels 32 defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons 30
St George Illawarra Dragons 30. Tries: Lolo (3), Bird, D Harris. Goals: Moceidreke (1/1), McCrae (4/4).
Parramatta Eels 32. Tries: Goodall (2), Markus, Lavaka, Davis, Folau. Goals: Davis (4/6).