DESPITE a sizeable collection of errors and penalties from Bathurst Panthers their defence stepped up at Carrington Park on Sunday to deliver Orange CYMS their first loss of the Group 10 premier league season.
In a match devoid of rhythm, but not short on entertainment value, Panthers prevailed 24-22 winners over the green and golds.
Little could separate the clubs over a physical opening half that ended 10-all.
A late penalty goal for Panthers gave them an eight point advantage inside the final five minutes.
CYMS scored down the right wing to give themselves one final crack at keeping their unbeaten status alive but the hosts held strong.
“I don’t know if it was just our defence. It was also our attitude. No-one’s dropping their head. Everyone’s just working for the person next to them,” Panthers player-coach Doug Hewitt said.
“They had a lot of chances at our line today but the boys stuck strong.
“We had to bounce back today. Last week we were out enthused but we came out with a lot more intent, which you need against a team like CYMS.”
CYMS player-coach Mick Sullivan said the result was a wake up call for his side.
"We were well off our best but full credit to Panthers. They probably should have won by more. Until we got that late try and had a chance to snatch it we didn't look like winning,” he said.
"Our attack's just gone missing and we've been doing far too much defence because of that. Even with the wins we've had they haven't been impressive, so it's a loss that's probably been coming."
Blake Hewitt opened the scoring 15 minutes into the game when he scooped up a loose pass and dived across the try line.
CYMS’ response was chaotic but spectacular. The ball was offloaded on multiple occasions towards the left edge before being passed over to the right wing, where Joey Lasagavibau put his side up 6-4.
Orange punished the Panthers for an error through a Tyrone Harrison try in the left corner.
Panthers responded in the dying seconds of the half thanks to Josh Rivett’s effort down the right wing.
Blake Lawson scored five minutes into the new half but CYMS got back ahead 16-14 when Tyrone Harrison’s line break set up Luke Petrie.
With Panthers under sustained pressure from CYMS inside their own 20m they found a reprieve in Trent Hotham’s intercept.
Off an ensuing penalty Panthers took the ball down the other end of the park and scored through Blake Hewitt.
Braydon Wicks hit a pair of penalties to give Panthers a 24-16 lead.
A try inside the last 90 seconds to Dylan Wood kept CYMS in the contest but Panthers held on for one last set.