Illawarra suffered a disappointing 24-22 loss against the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles on Saturday afternoon at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
Illawarra were bolstered by the return of rake Siliva Havili and centre Taane Milne. Additionally, Will Matthews and Blake Lawrie backed up after featuring for the Dragons in their NRL loss to the Broncos less than 24 hours prior.
It looked promising early for Illawarra who scored two tries within the first 10 minutes courtesy of young guns Jai Field and Pat Herbert.
Blacktown's Peter Schuster found his way over the line midway through the first half before some inspiring play allowed Kalifa Faifai Loa to score and extend Illawarra's lead to 16-6.
Repeat sets in the shadows of half-time saw Jordan Hall crash over for Blacktown to narrow the deficit to 16-12.
Illawarra's ill-discipline was cause for Blacktown's first try of the second half courtesy of experienced campaigner Jonathan Wright in the 53rd minute.
Herbert bagged his double a short while later to put his side back in front. However that lead didn’t last long as Sea Eagle Joey Lussick scored the visitors fourth try.
The final 15 minutes was less than pretty from both sides, with a host of penalties and errors from both sides. Illawarra were gifted plenty of opportunities to score points but came up two points short in the end.
Illawarra now need to defeat the Bulldogs next weekend at WIN Stadium to secure their place in the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW finals series.
Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 24 (Peter Schuster, Jordan Hall, Jonathan Wright, Joey Lussick tries; Jackson Hastings 4 goals) defeated Illawarra 22 (Patrick Herbert 2, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Jai Field tries; Jai Field 3 goals) at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Half-time: Illawarra 16-12.