THERE might've been four points between the two teams, but St Pat's was never really in its Peter McDonald Premiership match against Parkes Spacemen on Sunday.
St Pat's went into the match at Jack Arrow Oval on the back of a four-game winning streak, but were ultimately error-ridden and wasteful in the 22-18 defeat.
In fact the scoreline could've been a lot worse, with St Pat's down 22-6 with 20 minutes remaining before two late tries eased the damaged.
St Pat's coach Zac Merritt was disappointed with his team's performance.
"It was very frustrating. We just couldn't get into our groove," he said.
"We had two or three weeks off there, which is no excuse, but coming up against a quality team in Parkes, you want to be at your peak.
"I was happy to finish within four points because we were never in the game, really. It was very frustrating."
Parkes opened the scoring within five minutes when second rower William Wardle crushed over under the sticks, making the conversion a simple one for halfback Chad Porter.
The try came after St Pat's had an early set on the Parkes tryline, but was unable to convert the opportunity.
Parkes would extend its lead 10 minutes later when Takitau Mapapalangi scored following a penalty, but Porter was unable to add the extras for the visitors and the score was 10-0.
Parkes was unable to catch the ball from the kick-off and it went into touch, giving St Pat's a golden opportunity to hit back and they made no mistake, when Cooper Akroyd touched down.
A successful Willie Wright conversion made it 10-6.
And after St Pat's was given a penalty following the first tackle from the restart, the hosts had valuable field position.
They pestered the Parkes defence, but a disappointing fifth tackle option sent the ball dead in the in-goal.
Spacemen extended their lead in the 26th minute when Porter put Wardle into space to crash over for his second try, untouched. The conversion had Parkes up 16-6 and the visitors took that lead to the break.
Three minutes into the second half, things went from bad to worse for St Pat's, when youngster Malaki Folau scored out wide for Parkes. Porter nailed the conversion and the visitors had a 16-point buffer.
St Pat's struggled to build any momentum, with penalties, wasted opportunities and mistakes costing the hosts but they finally made a breakthrough on the hour mark, when Wright scored and converted his try.
But a mistake from the restart was a reflection of the blue and white's afternoon.
Merritt's frustration got the better of him eight minutes from time, when he was sent to the sin bin for dissent but only three minutes later, Parkes' Jack Buchanan was also sent for an early shower for an illegal push in the play the ball.
With four minutes remaining, Wright scored his second try of the afternoon to set up a grandstand finish but St Pat's wasn't able to score a fourth four-pointer.
Merritt said his team was lacklustre at times.
"I thought from the from the very get go, Noah [Griffiths] put a kick in and there were very lacklustre in the chase," he said.
"So that was the way we played for the rest of the game.
"We had our opportunities, there's no doubt about that, but everything was a little bit off today.
"So it's back to the drawing board and we'll work hard. We've got Macquarie up next in Dubbo."
Porter, the Parkes skipper, was pleased with his team's effort, despite a poor second half.
"We sort of started good during that first half there and got out to a lead," he said.
"We sort of fell away a bit in that second half. We just kept making errors, coming out of our own end.
"But our D was good."
The result is a big one for Parkes, considering the form of St Pat's and the fact that it keeps pressure on Group 11 conference rivals Dubbo CYMS, who dismantled Orange CYMS 60-0.
PARKES SPACEMEN 22 (William Wardle 2, Takitau Mapapalangi, Malaki Folau tries; Chad Porter 3 goals) defeated ST PAT'S 18 (Willie Wright 2, Cooper Akroyd tries; Wright 3 goals)
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