IT was Lithgow's game to win, but in the final one minute and 45 seconds, Bathurst Panthers' Ben Mitchell crashed over the line to steal the victory.
It was a case of the lock was the key on Wednesday night as Bathurst Panthers' snatched the 18-14 Western Youth League win against the Lithgow Workies Wolves at Carrington Park.
Having watched his side come from a 12-0 deficit to snatch the lead then lose it in the dying minutes, Lithgow coach Ben Lane was disappointed, saying "I think we threw it away at the end".
"We didn't start real well, we were a bit flat and gave away a few too many penalties, dropped too many balls," he said.
"Then we just played dumb at the end. We had the game to win and I don't know what went through their heads.
"To Panthers credit they hung in there and got the win, but we were our own worst enemy tonight."
The hard-running number 13, Ben Mitchell, admitted he and his team-mates thought the game was lost when Lithgow scored late in the final quarter.
But he and his fellow Panthers kept their composure, earned an attacking set, and Mitchell burst through the Wolves' defence to score the match-winner.
"I just wanted to get over, I had eyes only for the line and I was lucky to get over. I've kicked a few match winners before, but I haven't scored one," Mitchell said.
"I think we thought we were pretty much done, but we just said if we get down their end we need to play a normal set, a red set, and see what we could come up with from there.
"We sort of wanted to keep it pretty simple because we'd tried to throw the long balls all night and bloody it just didn't pay off. So it was good to good to get the win."
I just wanted to get over, I had eyes only for the line and I was lucky to get over.Ben Mitchell
Panthers showed their intent from the opening tackle as they crunched Lithgow prop Ben Fraser as he returned the kick.
But the first half - aside from one nice leap-taking from Workies fullback Sam Lane - was more about knock-ons and missed opportunities.
It took until the third minute of the second quarter for an attacking play to stick, but it was certainly a slick one. A pin-point cross-field kick from Panthers halfback Noah Griffiths picked out the unmarked Charlie Hutchings.
The fullback took the ball cleanly and ran around to score before Griffiths added the extras.
Panthers backed that up with a strong set, a good kick-chase from winger Evan Cafe forcing a line drop-out. The hosts again pressured and looked to have another try, but the pass which put John Mackay over was ruled forward.
However, Panthers had their second try four minutes out from half-time when Tom Large darted over between the sticks from dummy-half, the conversion giving his side a 12-o lead.
The call from Lithgow as they returned to the field for the second half was to show more effort. That's exactly what they did.
In attack they laid on some sweeping back line movements while their forwards ran and tackled hard.
They got on the board in the 39th minute via a brilliant and determined solo effort from Lane. He broke a number of tackles in a 15-metre run to the line.
Four minutes later centre Lachlan Taylor showed strength to reach out and ground the ball despite a two-man tackle, his effort seeing Lithgow close within two points at 12-10 with a quarter remaining.
Panthers came out hard in the final period with firstly Griffiths, then Jai Siakisoni stopped just inches short of the line.
But the hosts were unable to build on their lead and when, with a tick over five minutes remaining, Zane Hutchings crossed in the left corner for Lithgow the Wolves had the advantage at 14-12.
However, Lithgow gave Panthers a chance when conceding a penalty with just over two minutes left. It was one the hosts took as Mitchell hit the line hard and burst straight through it.
By the time the restart came there was only 13 seconds left. Panthers held on to post their first win of the competition.
"It was good to finally get the win, bloody oath," Mitchell said.
"They're a handy side, they're a lot more handy than we thought they were. Their little fellas have a lot of ticker."
While Lithgow missed out on a win which so easily could have been theirs, the coach did still see some positives.
"We dug in and clawed our way back into the game," he said.
"It was just disappointing we had the chance to close it out and we just missed that opportunity. But anyway, it's a good learning curve."