A disappointing second half performance has seen the Western Suburbs Magpies fall to a 38-10 defeat at the hands of the Penrith Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the Intrust Super Premiership Magpies with an extremely young side up against the competition leaders gunning for a minor premiership at home, but a strong start from the side saw them trail by just two points at the half-time break with the Panthers also down a man.
However, Western Suburbs couldn't make their man advantage count and soon found themselves on the back foot as Penrith's attack clicked in to gear — running in 26 unanswered second half points.
An untimely head knock for halfback Pita Godinet also didn't help the visitors' cause, and while he did return from his concussion test late in the second half, the match was all over bar the shouting.
Cowen Epere was dismissed with 10 minutes to go, leaving the Magpies a man short, and Brett Hodgson's side did well to not concede any further points which could have put their top four claims in jeopardy.
Panthers winger Makai Sivo was a standout in the win, bagging a hat-trick, while Adam Keighran scored a try and kicked five goals. Harrison O'Toole and Kurt Aldridge were the lone try-scorers for Western Suburbs with five-eighth Tyson Gamble converting one try in the 28-point defeat.
The loss sees Western Suburbs miss the chance to jump to second on the Intrust Super Premiership ladder; instead, they now find themselves in a tight tussle for the top four with three games left in the season.
Sitting in sixth position, the Magpies are level on 24 points with the Jets (4th) and Bulldogs (5th) and just two points behind both the Dragons (3rd) and Mounties (2nd), who they face next week at GIO Stadium.
Penrith Panthers 38 (Sivo 3, Martin, Keighran, Phillips, Coleman tries; Keighran 5/7 goals) def. Western Suburbs Magpies 10 (O'Toole, Aldridge tries; Gamble 1/2 goals)