As the lights dimmed and the curtain fell on their 2012 campaign, the Penrith Panthers crept into the wilderness of the off-season with a feisty purr.
It just wasn't enough to overpower the might of a finals-hungry Brisbane Broncos outfit determined to give retiring star and former Panthers captain Petero Civoniceva a victorious home ground farewell.
The Panthers let slip a 6-0 lead at half-time to fall 19-12 to the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, with a Brisbane try, conversion and field goal in the last four minutes of the clash proving the difference on the scoreboard.
While Brisbane threatened to cross their try-line multiple times in the hunt for the game's first points, it was the Panthers who opened the scoring when centre Michael Jennings sent winger Josh Mansour flying over in the corner in the 31st minute.
Sharpshooter Luke Walsh perfected the conversion from out-wide and the Panthers led 6-0.
A rampant Mitch Achurch barged his way over the line in the 39th minute but the video referee denied the effort after confirming that he'd been held up by the Brisbane defence.
The Broncos were quick to strike in the second half when a fierce Justin Hodges run allowed halfback Peter Wallace to race towards the try-line and lunge an arm over it to score in the 45th minute.
Five-eighth Corey Norman slotted the conversion and levelled the scores at 6-all.
Speeding past no less than three Panthers defenders, Ben Te'o cruised over for a four-pointer in the 52nd minute and a Wallace conversion from directly in front of the posts gave the Broncos a 12-6 lead.
Gutsy five-eighth Lachlan Coote leapt above three competing sets of Brisbane hands to defuse a Walsh bomb and ground the ball for a try in the 70th minute.
Walsh successfully added the extras and the scores were once again level at 12-all.
Invading a gaping hole in the Panthers defence, second-rower Alex Glenn sped over the line to score in the 76th minute.
Wallace nailed the conversion and the Panthers trailed 18-12.
Desperate to secure his team's place in the finals, Wallace fired a field goal in the 79th minute, extending his side's lead to 19-12 and ensuring any late Penrith converted try would be one point too little to snatch a victory.
The Panthers loss was a disappointing but respectable end to a lacklustre 2012 season, where they are likely to finish in 15th position on the competition ladder with 16 losses and eight wins.