DESCRIBING Bathurst Panthers' Group 10 premier league victory over Lithgow Workies on Sunday as 'ugly' feels like a gross understatement but, as they say, a win's a win.
Panthers scraped home 22-20 at Carrington Park during a second half which featured two send-offs and three sin bins.
Bathurst's Willie Wright and Lithgow's Wade Newham-Jones were thrown from the game by referee Nathan Blanchard after the pair traded blows.
The disruption sucked all rhythm out of the match and that only grew worse when a pair of sin bins briefly turned the game into 11 versus 11.
A late penalty goal saw the Panthers get home but their player-coach Doug Hewitt was still left shaking his head after scrappy performance.
"There was a lot of niggle in there. It's ridiculous, but you come to expect that now. It was a lot closer than what we would have liked," he said.
"Those send offs and sin bins send everyone into overdrive because you've got so much more field to cover. If anything it's a worse spectacle and not what you want to watch.
"Both teams hung in there right until the end."
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Panthers gave away the first penalty of the match in the fifth minute and on the end of the next set Workies punished them with the opening points.
Jack Sullivan dragged several Panthers men over the line with him as he scored net to the uprights.
A dropped ball from Workies on the first hit up from the kick off gave Panthers the chance to make a quick reply but Lithgow centre Zac Jones had other ideas.
He easily picked off a Panthers pass and ran 70 metres to score a try, pushing the score out to 12-0.
Panthers didn't drop their heads, scoring their first points on the net set.
The hosts found an overlap on the left wing and Louis Murphy tiptoed along the sideline for an unconverted try.
Panthers continued to find success on their left edge, cutting the deficit back to two with a try to Kevin Murray.
Jack Siejka was an the end of an offload close to the Workies try line, with just four minutes until half-time, and he leapt across to give Panthers a 14-12 lead at the break.
Individual brilliance from Kyle Willmott got the Workies men back in front but Jarred Seager crashed over close to the posts to keep Panthers ahead.
Tempers boiled over in the 55th minute and it resulted in the match becoming a 12-against-12 affair when Wright and Newham-Jones were sent off for throwing punches.
The drama didn't stop there as Bathurst's Jacob Barnes and Lithgow's Corey Willmott were sent to the sin bin just moments later.
Josh Howarth made it 20-all with his penalty kick, as both tams continued to rack up penalties and errors in an ugly second half of rugby league.
Jake Betts came within inches of helping the Panthers regain the lead in the 63rd minute but he was penalised for a double movement.
Panthers were gifted the chance to go ahead when a Workies strip in front of their own uprights allowed Josh Rivett to kick the go-ahead penalty.
"There's plenty of positives to take out of it, even if there were just as many negatives," Hewitt said.
"The positive is that we never went away from it. There were times we could have given up on a chase but there was always someone turning up. Those little one percenters won that match."