The Illawarra Cutters slumped to their third successive defeat on Sunday losing 19-18 to Penrith in a nail-biter at Collegians Sports Centre.
The Cutters led 18-16 with nine minutes to play but were undone by a late penalty goal from Wes Naiqama and a Tom Humble field goal four minutes from time.
Coach Ian Millward praised his side's effort after crucial 50-50 calls went against them in the final 10 minutes.
"There was nothing between the two teams. I thought a draw would've been a fair result," Millward said. "It was probably one where we had our chances to wrap it up, but I thought we got some massively tough calls from the referee.
"The first thing I'm going to do is read up on my rules having come back from the UK because I thought we really had some tough ones.
"Our winger [Tyron Cranston] went for the ball, got absolutely hammered and they got the penalty.
"That led to the field goal.
"I think the pass for the last try was a bit questionable but those things we can't control.
"There wasn't much in it. Our effort was good, I just thought execution-wise we just took our foot off the pedal a few times.
"It's a fine line in this comp and we've just got to turn that line our way."
The Cutters led the match after just seven minutes when Charly Runciman strolled over untouched from a Sam Duggan short ball.
The tense game stayed close throughout, blow for blow, point for point.
Naiqama levelled the scores when referee Adam Cassidy found a questionable ruck penalty from Cutters prop Rory O'Brien in front of the posts with nine minutes to play, before Humble's 76th-minute field goal sealed the result for the Panthers.