The St George Illawarra Dragons were defeated 18-14 by the Penrith Panthers at Sportingbet Stadium, Penrith on Saturday.
The Red-and-Whites scored thrice in the loss with winger Jason Nightingale banking a double.
Head Coach Paul McGregor had opted to standby the line-up announced midweek which meant hooker Craig Garvey dropped off the extended interchange bench.
The visitors arrived to the foot of the mountains on the back of a comprehensive 30-0 victory over local rivals the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks last round but found themselves trailing early on.
Panthers centre Dean Whare was the first to get his name on score sheet four minutes in having been the beneficiary of some quick passing out to his right.
Panthers five-eighth Jamie Soward converted to make it 6-0.
The New Zealand international notched his second of the encounter, again down the right flank, after grounding Soward’s bombing ball.
Soward converted to make it 12-0.
The Dragons first half woes had previously been compounded by lock Tyson Frizell suffering a game-ending ankle injury in the 14th minutes.
Despite this setback, the Dragons rose above the adversity through the efforts of centre Charly Runciman on the left wing six minutes from the interval.
The St John’s Dubbo junior, who made his debut in the corresponding fixture last season, was the recipient of fullback Adam Quinlan’s sharp cut-out pass out wide to the left.
The Dragons proved the quickest off the mark when play resumed after the interval and a quick back flick by Quinlan to winger Jason Nightingale three minutes in narrowed the deficit to four-points.
Widdop soon converted to make it 12-10.
However, the home side re-extended their points-buffer back out to six through winger Josh Mansour in the 55th minute.
Soward converted to make it 18-10.
The Dragons continued pressing forward and their efforts were finally rewarded with Nightingale’s leaping effort across the stripe two minutes from time.
However, the visitors were unable to secure victory and ultimately went down 18-14.
Penrith Panthers 18 defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons 14
St George Illawarra Dragons 14. Tries: Nightingale (2), Runciman, Goals: Widdop (1/3).
Penrith Panthers 18. Tries: Whare (2), Mansour. Goals: Soward (3/3).