Penrith coach Anthony Griffin and captain Matt Moylan admit they’re growing tired of failing to put teams away at the death after losing in yet another close encounter on Saturday.
For the fourth time in six games this season, the Panthers lost their composure and a late lead, going down 23-18 to defending premiers North Queensland.
Every Penrith game this season has been decided in the final ten minutes.
And while they picked up clutch wins against Brisbane and Parramatta, they’ve also gone down agonisingly to Canberra, Canterbury and St George Illawarra.
And now the Cowboys have been added to that list after the Panthers conceded two tries and a field goal, as well as spurning several opportunities to score, in the final 15 minutes of the match.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” Moylan said.
“We’ve been in a few tight ones this year and we definitely didn’t finish off that game the way we would’ve liked, especially with that soft try at the end.
“It’s not something we’re about. We want to finish off games strong and that wasn’t the case tonight.”
Griffin was also flummoxed by his team’s end-game management, but was also encouraged by a performance that allowed them to go toe to toe with the reigning premiers for 70 minutes.
“It’s frustrating, and it hurts, but if we’re getting beaten 40-nil, it’d hurt more,” Griffin said.
“We’ve got a really strong, young group of players that are playing for each other at the moment, but unfortunately we’re getting beat.
“We played the premiers and they’ve had their team together for three to four years now. They just showed their class in being able to wriggle out of our defensive pressure.”
Griffin said his team simply needed to be better defensively in the clutch.
“But there wasn’t much in it. If (Jamie) Soward’s field goal’s a foot straighter, we’re going to golden point. It was a game of footy and we were in it right to the last minute.”