An offside call preventing a late try and giving up a penalty kick in front of goals has cost the Candelo-Bemboka Panthers early entry to the Group 16 grand final.
The minor premier CBU reserve grade outfit came unstuck at the hands of the Bega Roosters in Cooma on Sunday, going down 24-22 after a gritty contest.
Some lapses in defence had let the Roosters slip through some long-range tries in the first half.
Roosters fullback Ben Tyler was the feature player, dominating with a hat-trick of four pointers during the clash.
Kicking proved troublesome for both sides in powerful blustery conditions with a few shots drifting to land out on the full, but it also made the ball difficult to pluck from the air with a few dropped-ball woes for both squads.
Play fluctuated through the middle, but the Roosters showed pace through any gaps and opened up a solid early lead before the Panthers fought back into the contest, trailing just 18-12 at the break.
Trent Rollason had a huge impact with big runs, while Nathan Moon also made his presence felt as the pair landed four-pointers for the minor premiers.
Battling the wind, Bevan Taylor slotted some challenging conversions as the teams locked up at 22-22 in the dying stages.
However, the Panthers gave up a penalty in front with Billy Hudson making no mistake on the kick to lead 24-22 and as the clock whittled away the Panthers were denied a late try with Adam Blacka ruled offside from Jamie Glenn’s chip kick.
The Panthers will now meet the Bull Ants.