Despite a hat-trick from winger Gideon Mosby, the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys fell short of putting back-to-back NYC wins together, going down 32-22 to the Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium.
It was a scrappy first 10 minutes with both sides feeling each other out.
Ty Carucci swooped on a dropped Panthers ball but couldn’t link up with any support.
It didn’t take long for the Cowboys to get on the scoreboard though, with try-scoring machine Mosby finding space out wide after the ball went through the hands to go over untouched 30-out.
Coen Hess converted to make it 6-nil.
The Panthers weren’t out of it for long, as hooker Maliko Filino charged on to the ball to strike right back.
Two repeat sets by the Cowboys kept Penrith camped in their own half, and it didn’t take long for their second to come, as Brandon Smith again exploited them from dummy half to score right under the posts.
Hess added the extras as they got out to a 12-4 lead at the 25-minute mark.
Brandon Smith was put on report for a lifting tackle and from the ensuing set of six the Panthers sent the ball wide for Braidon Burns to reduce the deficit.
Back-to-back sets had the Panthers on the defensive before the break, and while it wasn’t pretty it was effective.
Cooper Bambling sent the ball out to Akeripa Tia Kilifi who put it on to the boot, unlucky for the Panthers as Mosby pounced on the fumble and scored his second of the half.
Hess was perfect with the boot in the first 40 as the visitors went into the sheds 18-14 after Penrith scored right on the hooter.
After the break Penrith were on the front foot after getting another set and early in the tackle count Corey Harawira-Naera put on a right-foot step to beat three to level it 18-apiece.
The Cowboys fell into a slump after the break as Penrith ran in two tries and were up 32-18 with 20 to go.
With eight to go the blinding speed of Mosby gave them a faint hope as he ran 50 metres to put them within 10, but the clock would prove their biggest enemy as the Cowboys fell short 32-22.
Cowboys 22: Gideon Mosby 3, Brandon Smith tries; Coen Hess 3 conversions
Panthers 32: Braidon Burns 2, Maliko Filino, Kaide Ellis, Core Harawira-Naera, Tyrone May tries; Dylan Edwards 4 conversions