The NYC Newcastle Knights suffered a 30-22 loss to the St George Illawarra Dragons at Allianz Stadium on Saturday afternoon in their qualifying final.
While the young Knights played with plenty of heart, they were unable to keep errors out of their play and will head home disappointed by the opportunity lost.
Having finished in the top four in the home and away season, the side will have a second bite at the cherry next week in the semi-finals.
The young Knights found themselves under plenty of pressure in the opening minutes, the Dragons obviously keen to get one back over their opposition following their loss at Hunter Stadium six days earlier.
In the fourth minute the Knights could do nothing when a brilliant piece of improvised play saw captain Shannon Crook collect a blind pass from winger Sitiveni Moceidreke to grubber on for his halves partner Adam Clune to score.
Crook added the extras to give the Dragons an early 6-0 lead.
Things went from bad to worse for the Knights two minutes later when Joe Tapine was forced from the field after a heavy tackle, Pride Petterson-Robati coming from the bench to slot into the second row.
The Knights looked sure to score in the 15th minute through Brock Lamb, however the five-eighth was pulled back when the referee saw a foul in the build up play from Chance Peni.
The Dragons struck again two minutes later, forward Jack Bird chasing his own grubber to break through the line and score.
Crook again converted to give the Dragons a 12-0 lead with nineteen minutes gone.
The Knights grabbed their first try four minutes later, Tuila Togitasi feeding Jaelen Feeney for the halfback to slip through the Dragons' defence and score.
Bryce Donovan stepped up to the tee and nailed the conversion, the score 12-6 with fourteen minutes to play in the first half.
Tapine returned to the field cleared of concussion but the Knights were struggling to keep the Dragons at bay as they racked up a considerable penalty count against them.
Dragons lock Vincent Stowers nearly scored in the 33rd minute, only to knock-on five metres from the tryline as he attempted to collect a loose ball.
Four minutes later Petterson-Robati took it on himself to lift his team, producing a neat chip-and-chase on the last tackle to break through the line and pass on to Peni.
Peni was unable to capitalise with his grubber and the Dragons raced up the field to almost score again through second-rower Jack Bird.
Returning fullback Jake Mamo was able to usher the ball dead but the Dragons nabbed themselves a penalty goal in the following set, the score 14-6 as the halftime siren sounded.
Early in the second half the Knights bagged their second try of the afternoon, Mamo's grubber putting the ball on a platter for winger Braden Robson to collect and score.
Donovan was unable to convert from a tight angle, the score now 14-10 with six minutes played in the second half.
The Dragons struck back straight away with fullback Matt Dufty slipping past several defenders to score in the right corner.
Crook's attempted conversion was waved away, but with the score now at 18-10 the Dragons had regained their halftime lead with thirty minutes to play.
The Knights needed to lift again and Joe Tapine came up with the goods three minutes later, showing raw strength to force his way over the line with four defenders clinging on.
Donovan was successful in his conversion this time, the ball bouncing in off the upright to leave the score at 18-16.
Despite some scintillating attack the Knights were still struggling in defence, the Dragons' Jack Bird bagging his second with a strong run on the left flank.
Crook converted, the scoreline at 24-16 with nineteen minutes to play.
The Dragons didn't let up, a series of strong runs from his forward pack giving Crook the platform to place a tricky grubber between the uprights.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon fumbled the ball and Jack Kanavagh dived on the opportunity, rolling across the line with defenders scurrying.
Grounding for the potential try was unclear, and the decision went to the video referee, who ruled in favour of the Knights.
The Knights bounced back with a series of solid plays, Brock Lamb showing quick reflexes to collect his own deflected kick and dive over the line.
It was a fortuitous play from the five-eighth but Donovan made no mistakes with the conversion, the score now 24-22 with eleven minutes to play.
The Knights continued to push and with six minutes remaining the Dragons' Moceidreke unwittingly made contact with a Knights' kick that was going out.
The Knights assembled their scrum ten metres from the tryline but were unable to break through in the subsequent set, Tapine losing the ball under pressure.
With time running out the Knights went for a Captain's Challenge, the video referee ruling a strip from the Dragons.
Joe Boyce crossed over soon after and the Knights looked as though they had pulled off a remarkable comeback, but the referee ruled obstruction in the build up play from Fitzgibbon.
The Dragons took full advantage of the decision two minutes later, Izaac Thompson collecting a pass from Crook to score in the left corner.
Crook's conversion was successful, the score 30-22 when the full-time siren sounded.
Dragons: 30 (T: Clune, Bird 2, Dufty, Thompson G: Crook 4/5 P: 1/1)
Knights: 22 (T: Feeney, Tapine, Lamb, Donovan G: Donovan 3/4)