Wests Tigers have gone down 30-6 to the top-of-the-table Penrith Panthers in their Round 16 clash tonight at Panthers Stadium.
Made to do a mountain of work on their own defensive line, Michael Maguire's side battled bravely but couldn't make it click down the other end of the field, with the home side putting on the points late to run away with the win.
After weathering plenty of defence on their own try-line, Wests Tigers took a shock lead after just eight minutes when an early kick from Benji Marshall found the side's leading try-scorer David Nofoaluma for another four-pointer.
Moses Mbye made no mistake from close range to make it 6-0, and the lead was almost doubled soon after when a clever shift to the left put Tommy Talau over out wide, only for the winger to lose possession in the act of scoring.
Bit of Marshall magic gets us started
That moment of reprieve would prove key for Penrith as they continued to dominate field position and possession to eventually turn their dominance in to points.
Jarome Luai continued his career-best season with a clever run back on the inside to grab his side's first try of the night and level the scores after 30 minutes.
With momentum on their side — and some fortuitous calls going their way — the hosts would take the lead in the shadows of half-time when Liam Martin crashed over, before a penalty goal on the siren handed the Panthers a 14-6 lead.
Down a man for the opening 10 minutes of the second half with Adam Doueihi sin-binned, Wests Tigers would show steely resolve in defence to turn the Panthers away on numerous occasions as set restarts and penalties continued to pile up.
Despite the return of Doueihi, Penrith would extend their lead after 52 minutes when a long ball from Tyrone May found Brian To'o unmarked on the wing.
Cleary's conversion would sail wide to keep the margin at just 12 points — leaving the door ajar for a potential comeback — but there was little going right for Maguire's side in attack as they struggled to work in to good field positions.
Eventually, it would be a penalty try for Stephen Crichton that put the icing on the cake for Penrith to ensure their winning streak extended to 11 games with Josh Mansour crossing in the final play of the game to make it 30-6.
Penrith Panthers 30 (Luai, Martin, To'o, Crichton, Mansour tries; Cleary 5/6 goals) def. Wests Tigers 6 (Nofoaluma tries; Mbye 1/1 goals) at Panthers Stadium