Contained on the field and restrained in the air, the Penrith Panthers fell 30-16 to the New Zealand Warriors in a rainy affair at Centrebet Stadium on Monday night.
After trailing 12-0, the Panthers crept back to lead 16-12 at the break before a mediocre second half allowed the Warriors to pile on three tries and snare a win.
Coach Ivan Cleary said a spirited first half was brought undone by a lacklustre latter half in front of the 5, 778 spectators.
"I thought to come back from 12-0 down to be ahead at halftime was good,'' he said.
''The second half, they won the field position and kicked much better than us and their points came from that.''
In particular, he said the side's modest effort in putting ball to boot in the second half was a significant factor in their defeat.
''We butchered a couple of kicking opportunities which sort of ended up building pressure, they built pressure on us and the points came,'' Cleary said.
''I really thought the boys were hanging in really well and defended pretty strongly the whole night but it's hard to play in your own half and if you're losing that field position battle and the opposition aren't making errors or you're not getting any penalties then you don't find yourself with opportunities.
''If you hold the ball and kick well on nights like tonight, you give yourself a pretty good chance to win.''
Despite the final score, Cleary dismissed suggestions the match provided ''not too many positives'' for the Panthers.
''I'd disagree,'' he said.
''We had three Origin players missing and I thought we gave it a real good go, just in the end we didn't get some of the basics right. And they did.''
One impressive factor for the Panthers was winger Josh Mansour's 85-metre intercept try in the first half.
''Josh has been very good for us since he came in,'' Cleary said.
''That play in particular was a real momentum swinger, which you need in the NRL, so it was certainly a good play and he's done a great job since he came in.
''His challenge is to keep that going.''
Panthers skipper Kevin Kingston praised the tenacity of his side but admitted a lack of spark in the second half brought them unstuck.
''We were hanging in there,'' he said.
''They did well to build the pressure, there was just that period in the second half where they just built so much, we couldn't get get out of our own half and they choked us in the end.''
Due to NSW State of Origin duties, the Panthers were missing first-choice captain Luke Lewis, centre Michael Jennings and prop Tim Grant.
The club is one of just a handful who don't get a bye round directly before an Origin clash and Cleary hinted at feeling puzzled by the scheduling dilemma.
''I'm not too sure how that all works, really,'' he said.
''There seems to be a lot of byes, two teams here, four teams there, I don't know how it works.
''We're actually getting byes around the Origin period but we're not getting them before the games, so you lose you're players, so I'm not sure how that works.
''It's like our byes are in completely different parts of the season, so maybe that's something to look at.''
New Zealand winger Manu Vatuvei opened the scoring with force, scoring two tries in the first 20 minutes.
Undeterred, the Panthers hit back before the break with three tries in eight minutes, with Mansour crossing underneath the posts before Kingston and centre Geoff Daniela bagged four-pointers.
But in the second half, Penrith remained silent as the Warriors' Konrad Hurrell, James Maloney and Kevin Locke all crossed for tries, with the latter scoring with just one minute on the clock.
The Panthers return to the field against the Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park on Sunday afternoon. Kick-off is 2.00pm.