It was almost a spectacular case of deja vu until the ending went horribly wrong.
The Penrith Panthers fell 19-18 to the Parramatta Eels in extra time at McGrath Foundation Stadium on Saturday night in a finish that- until Chris Sandow fired the winning field goal- closely resembled the Panthers' thrilling 23-22 golden point victory over their arch rivals in round 19 last season.
Decked out in completely pink outfit for the annual Women In League round, the Panthers dominated an error-riddled Eels side in the first half and raced ahead to an 18-6 lead midway through the second half but two Parramatta tries in the final 12 minutes- and the loss of halfback Luke Walsh to a shoulder injury- decimated the home side's reign.
Coach Ivan Cleary agreed the game was 'one that got away'.
''You can add that to a pretty long list actually this year,'' he said.
''I reckon that's probably four or five games we've led with sort of ten to go, or certainly tonight we led by 12 …disappointing.''
Cleary said a flattering scoreline damaged the Panthers' concentration.
''All of a sudden it's 18-6 and it was a pretty good game, it was a pretty tight game, and we sort of got ourselves ahead there and just a lack of concentration,'' he said.
''A little soft period and all of a sudden it's 18-12 and they're coming at you and we're doing a bit of clock watching and before we knew it, it was game on.
''I don't why but we didn't get much luck in golden point but if you look back, when you're up 18-6 with 12 to go, you've got to tie the game up.''
With sharpshooter Walsh exiting the field with just over 25 minutes remaining, the Panthers were forced to endure the game's latter stages and the extra time field goal war without their main playmaker
''There were a few things that didn't go our way in that sense,'' Cleary said.
''So I guess we've just got to put it down to a lesson, another lesson and a tough one too but one you've got to learn and make sure we get it right the next time.''
Skipper Kevin Kingston admitted something within the side changed for the worse when the comfort of an 18-6 lead was established.
''It was just a feeling really,'' Kingston said.
''We just let our foot off the pedal really and they just, all they needed was a sniff, they came down the right side a few times and I thought we got in a position to win the game a few times but we couldn't take our chances.''
Venting frustration at the refereeing during extra time, Cleary said he believed the referees 'just stopped'.
''The only thing they actually adjudicated on that whole golden point, the only decision they gave, was a forward pass against us, which I don't think was forward,'' Cleary said.
''So apart from that, there was a knock-on in there from Jarryd Hayne, which for some reason they just didn't, you know, the referees just stopped so…it doesn't make you feel any better.''
The Panthers posted the first points of the match when lock Luke Lewis tore through a hole in the Eels defence to score a try in the 11th minute.
Walsh converted and the Panthers led 6-0.
Relentless fullback Lachlan Coote saved the Panthers from conceding a try when the speedy No.1 booted the ball out of Ken Sio's possession moments before he planted it in the corner in the 26th minute.
Eels' centre Ryan Morgan then powered 60 metres down the sideline and triggered three missed tackles by the Panthers to bag a try in the 39th minute and cement a half-time scoreline of 6-all.
Pouncing on a loose ball from an Eels pass, Panthers winger Etu Uaisele embarked on an 85 metre rampage down the field to fly over the line in the 55th minute.
Blake Austin slotted a sensational goal from the sideline and the Panthers led 12-6 before Michael Jennings sent David Simmons over for a four-pointer in the 58th minute.
Parramatta executed their comeback through a Luke Burt try in the 69th minute and a Hayne try in the 75th, with Burt converting both efforts.
Eels halfback Sandow attempted a field goal from 30 metres out in the 78th minute but missed and Panthers young-gun Harry Siejka followed suit unsuccessfully in the 79th to send the game into extra time in front of the 15, 275 spectators.
Three minutes into the first half of the golden point showdown, the Eels' were denied a try by the video referee.
But with 34 seconds remaining in the second half, Sandow slotted the killer bullet to condemn the Panthers to a 19-18 loss.