Just for a fleeting moment, Illawarra Cutters coach Ian Millward thought the almost impossible was about to be very possible.
But the Cutters' purple patch of form in the NSW Cup, in which they hadn't lost a game since the opening round of the season, ended after the New Zealand Warriors repelled a late rally in a 35-28 win at WIN Jubilee Oval on Saturday.
The visitors led by 30 points after as many minutes, but were forced to wait until Chad Townsend snapped a last-minute field goal to finally put the result beyond doubt.
"I didn't think we were a lost hope at half-time and we spoke about that," Millward said, after the Cutters trailed by 24 points at the break. "And there was a period of time where I thought if we handled it a bit better we win the game.
"You've got to take your hat off to the guys for scoring 22 points in the second half, but the first half hurt us with the tries we conceded."
Two tries to Carlos Tuimavave capped a five-try blitz for the Warriors in the opening 35 minutes, only a month after they drew with the Cutters in round two.
But Charly Runciman's try before half-time provided the springboard for the hosts to get back in the match after the break, highlighted by Yaw Kiti Glymin's touchdown to reduce the deficit to six with as many minutes left.
But Townsend sealed the match in the dying moments for the Warriors, who also featured regular NRL stars Konrad Hurrell, Feleti Mateo and Kevin Locke.
"They're a very good team, but our second-half performance showed we can compete defensively," Millward said.
"Our forwards got beaten by their forwards and it sort of had a chain reaction.
"I think they'll win a lot of games, but we've got to get back to starting strong again."