For the second time this season, Western Suburbs Magpies have gone down to a last-second field goal — this one kicked by North Sydney halfback Dean Hawkins.
Three first half tries had given the Magpies a commanding 18-0 advantage early in the contest and seemingly paved the way for another strong win for Brett Hodgson's side, before a resilient comeback from North Sydney saw the hosts fight back in to the contest and eventually steal the win late on.
The loss leaves Western Suburbs still on top of the Intrust Super Premiership ladder for now, although the side could drop to second place depending on the result of the Canterbury game tomorrow.
In-form half Josh Drinkwater got the match off to the perfect start for Western Suburbs with a try inside the opening 10 minutes of the game, before laying another on to Tuimoala Lolohea in the following set — giving the visitors a 12-0 lead after as many minutes of play.
And when Watson Heleta found his way to a grubber on the right touchline shortly after, it looked like Wests were on track for another commanding victory as Drinkwater kicked them to an 18-0 lead.
However, three tries in seven minutes before half-time saw the Bears claw their way back, with Mawene Hiroti, Rhys Kennedy and Billy Brittain all touching down to cut the margin to 18-16 at the break.
Ky Rodwell momentarily put North Sydney in front after the break, before Lucas Price showed great desire to win the race to a grubber in the in-goal — putting the visitors back in the lead.
With time winding down and the Bears trailing by two points, Hawkins stepped up to slot a penalty goal following an off-the-ball infringement from Chris McQueen, before moments later, stealing the win with a field goal in the dying seconds — much to the delight of the vocal crowd at North Sydney Oval.
Hodgson's side will no doubt be frustrated with the result, especially after seeing the exact same thing happen to the team earlier in the year with a Wyong field goal in the last minute of the match.
Western Suburbs will look to bounce back next Saturday afternoon when they take on the bottom-of-the-table Newcastle Knights at Campbelltown Sports Stadium from 3:00pm.
North Sydney 25 (Horiti, Kennedy, Brittain, Rodwell tries; Hawkins 4/5 goals; Hawkins field goal) def. Western Suburbs Magpies 24 (Drinkwater, Lolohea, Heleta, Price tries; Drinkwater 4/4 goals)