A SLOW start from Bathurst Panthers has ultimately cost the club a victory over Mudgee Dragons on Sunday afternoon.
The visiting Mudgee outfit raced out to 28-0 lead in the round four Peter McDonald Premiership match at Carrington Park, with the Panthers able to score some consolation tries late on in the second half to finish 32-18.
Mudgee halfback Jack Littlejohn was the star player for the visitors, having the Panthers on the back foot for large periods of his game thanks to his passing and kicking game.
"He's a class footballer and kicked us out of the game. He controlled the game really well and it showed today," Panthers skipper, Jake Betts said.
While his team won by 16 points, Littlejohn was disappointed that Mudgee allowed Panthers back into the game with three tries.
"It was disappointing. Realistically, we should've beaten them by a little bit more," he said.
"We went away from what we were doing well in the first half. We probably tried to play too much footy and go around them. We dropped the ball, gave away penalties and our fitness level let them back into it."
That aside, Littlejohn said the result gives his team some good confidence as they return to Bathurst next Sunday to play St Pat's.
"I think the way we defended, we were really good," he said.
"It's definitely a confidence boost."
MUDGEE DRAGONS 32 (Corin Smith 3, Nathan Orr, Jake Gale, Billy Carberry tries; Lee Hicks 4 goals) defeated BATHURST PANTHERS 18 (Keelan Bresac, Jackson Carter, Jake Betts tries; Carter 3 goals)
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