The Vodafone Junior Warriors were out-gunned 32-14 by Penrith in today's 23rd-round NYC clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
The home side had the chance to climb into the top four above Penrith with victory today and the form book favoured them to do so.
They came into the match with three wins and a draw in their last four outings while the Panthers were coming off three straight defeats.
Instead iit was Penrith which called the tune, arriving at halftime 14-4 ahead and eventually finishing 18 points clear to surge into third spot.
There was brief hope for the Vodafone Junior Warriors when Eko Malus converted try had the margin back to 10 points with 15 minutes left but Penrith quickly responded to restore its advantage.
At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Junior Warriors 14 (Ngataua Hukatai, Eko Malu, Kouma Samson tries; Mason Lino conversion).
Penrith Panthers 32 (Bryce Cartwright 2, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, James Dunley, Brendan Attwood, Doug Hewitt tries; Bryce Cartwright 4 conversions).
Halftime: 14-4 Panthers.
Referees: Chris Butler and Chris Sutton.
Vodafone Junior Warriors: Ngataua Hukatai; Metia Lisati, Stedman Lefau, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, David Fusitua; Tuimoala Lolohea, Mason Lino; James Taylor, Michael Sio (c), Kouma Samson, Sam Lisone, Sione Feao; Sam Cook. Interchange: Eko Malu, Abraham Papalii, Toafofoa Sipley, Eric Newbigging.