Lithgow Workies gave Bathurst Panthers a fight but eventually went down 26-12 in a fiery contest at Tony Luchetti Showground on Sunday afternoon.
The two sides were sitting at opposite ends of the ladder before the match, Panthers with seven wins from eight games and Workies with just two victories.
However Lithgow and Bathurst could not be split in a scrappy first 20 minutes as both teams matched each other with quality play and drop ball.
Workies scored first through hitman Corey Willmott but Panthers had the better of the last fifty minutes to claim a 14 point win.
Workies coach Chris Rhodes lamented his side’s drops in concentration and intensity.
"I thought we had the upper hand there for about 36 minutes then just let off for three minutes and they scored two tries," Rhodes said.
"You can take a lot of positives away from it but until we fix our little lapses before half time and just after half time... once we fix that up we're right up there but it just shows you can't give quality teams back to back sets or they'll drill you."
Panthers coach Todd Barrow said Workies gave his team the tough contest they were after.
"Lithgow were pretty good though that first 20 minutes, they had all the footy, all the momentum,” Barrow said.
”Any win in Lithgow is a good one… We've both got big packs of forwards, we love mixing it up with Lithgow.
In a game full of hard hits and niggle, both sides found it difficult early on with the ball going to ground on multiple occasions in the first 20 minutes.
Workies and Panthers spent prolonged periods attacking each other’s try lines but were left frustrated and empty handed as they failed to get over the line.
The constant niggle led to a few scuffles between the teams and the referee told captains Brendon Van Veen and Jeremy Gordon to calm their teams down and just play footy.
Workies took his advice as they scored first in the 24th minute with second-rower Corey Wilmott crashing over from close range after Lithgow decided to run the ball on the last tackle.
Jono Van Veen nailed the conversion to make it 6-0.
Panthers hit back soon after as Bradyn Cassidy showed some quick footwork on the right wing to beat a couple of defenders and get the ball over the line in the corner. Jade Barrow’s conversion made it even at 6-all.
After another scuffle and another chat between the captains and referee, Panthers hit Workies where it hurt. On the scoreboard.
Corey Willmott laid on a huge tackle in the middle of the field but Bathurst five-eighth Claude Gordon caught Workies napping as he made a break through the middle of the field.
Gordon grubbered inside for his number nine Nick Loader who gathered and scored next to the posts. Jye Barrow added the two points to make it 12-6.
Panthers were in again the very next set as fullback Jeremy Gordon made a break down the left and passed inside to Kyle Barnes to dot the ball over the line.
The half-time score 16-6 Panthers way.
Panthers were quick to take the ascendancy after the break as Kade Barrow scored a try five minutes into the second half.
Another try eight minutes later to second-rower Jack Seijka on the right edge made it 26-6.
Workies struggled to get out of their own half as two drop balls robbed them of the chance to attack down field.
The game opened up as players tired and Lithgow were able to steal back some momentum with around fifteen minutes to go.
However their fifth tackle options let them down with the try line in sight.
The referee had to deal with plenty of players telling him what to do and he finally had enough towards the end of the game, sending Claude Gordon of the Panthers to the bin for back chat.
Workies eventually managed to get one back as Keelan Bresac broke through the middle of the field to score under the posts in the last minute of the game.
The conversion from Jono Van Veen brought the final score to 26-12.
Workies first division side lost to Panthers 32-0 and the League Tag ladies went down 40-0.
BATHURST PANTHERS 26 (Bradyn Cassidy, Nicholas Loader, Kyle Byrnes, Kade Barrow, Jack Siejka tries; Jye Barrow 3 goals) def LITHGOW WORKIES 12 (Corey Willmott, Keelan Bresac tries; Jono Van Veen 2 goals)