A gallant Jersey Flegg St George Illawarra Dragons were defeated 24-16 by the fourth-placed Penrith Panthers on Saturday afternoon at WIN Stadium.
The young Dragons set the tone early when Eddie Blacker's first run of the game caused plenty of problems for the Panthers' defence. Blacker was in the thick of things from the get-go when a flick pass from the front-rower saw winger Dante Lusio score the game's first within two minutes.
A knock on from the Dragons allowed the Panthers their first try opportunity via back-rower Ratu Nanovo in the sixth minute. The Panthers capitalised on another Dragons mistake to score again through centre Shannon Harris four minutes later.
Dragons halfback Blair Grant would help the Dragons hit-back with a lucky try that was helped along by a Jayden Sullivan pass that rebounded off the back of a Panthers player in the 28th minute.
With less than a minute remaining, Penrith winger Justin Jones made a 70metre break to score in the corner, giving the Panthers a two-point advantage at half-time.
Numerous penalties and errors from both sides at the beginning of the second half altered the speed of the game, creating a tight back and forth affair.
It wasn't until the 51st minute that the Panthers capitalised on an outnumbered Dragons defense to score through Nanovo again, propelling their lead to eight with a successful conversion.
In the 55th minute, a desperate short drop out attempt from the Dragons landed in the hands of awaiting Panthers back-rower Jack Quinn who broke the line to score.
With only nine minutes remaining, Dragons halfback Grant hoped to inspire his team mates with a nice short ball to put fullback Cody Ramsey through a gap to score.
Sadly, Ramsey's try however would prove the last scoring play of the game with the young Dragons unable to make a comeback in their eventual eight-point loss
The young Dragons will now enjoy a week off before their run to the finals commences.