ROCKINGHAM-Mandurah fell to their first loss of the season and narrowly avoided an outright defeat to Willetton in Premier Cricket at Burrendah Reserve on Saturday.
The early season surprise package were always facing an uphill battle after a poor first day where Willetton claimed first innings points.
Trailing by 17 runs after the first innings, Rockingham-Mandurah needed runs on Saturday to set the hosts a decent total for an outright win.
But the Mariners lost early wickets to slump to 6-101, with First Grade leading scorer Brayden Sutton dismissed for just nine.
Mariners captain Craig Simmons resurrected the innings with 56 from 62 balls, while tail-ender Kyle Gardiner added a handy 33, to set Willetton 179 from 42 overs for an outright victory.
In a thrilling finale, the Dragons fell just four runs short finishing at 5-175, with Gardiner holding his nerve at the death.
The Mariners teenage spinner continued his great start to the year with 3-54, including the key wicket of Riley Ward late on.
Rockingham-Mandurah host University in a two-day fixture from Saturday 11.40am at Lark Hill next round.