A black cat ran across the field during Sunday afternoon’s rugby league game between the Penrith Panthers and Cronulla Sharks.
The pacey feline chose to make its entrance just eight minutes into the second half of the game, showing some impressive speed as it bolted down the right side of the field and into the in-goal area.
It proved to be a very bad omen for Penrith, who leaked a try just two minutes later and went on to concede 18 unanswered points in the next 20 minutes, eventually losing out 26-10.
Social media users were quick as lightning to make light of the situation, with some suggesting the cat as a potential replacement for missing Panthers winger and NSW Origin debutant Josh Mansour.
‘Josh Mansour’s Origin replacement might just have him for pace,’ commented Sportsbet.
‘Yeh General, just checking to see whether a paw touches the sideline there…,’ the bookmaker added, accompanied by a perfect freeze-frame of the now infamous kitty soaring towards the try-line.
Others took the interruption to fire shots at Penrith, who in the first half had already defended a total of 33 plays inside their own 20-metre line compared to just three, conceding one try in the process.
‘Get that cat back on. He’s Penrith’s best so far,’ tweeted someone.
Nine News commentator Matthew Johns appeared to be first to see the interruption, shouting out: ‘I just saw a cat running down the field, I’m sure it was.’
‘There it is! No! It might be a miniature panther,’ the rest of the commentating booth were then heard shouting in complete disbelief.
And while the interference may have marked a turning point for the Panthers, it did very little to distract an under-strength Sharks outfit who surged through to record 13 straight wins on the trot.
They may have been missing five players to State of Origin, however, but the Sharks were not short on star power, with full-back Ben Barba bagging an eye-catching first-half double.
In arguably his best outing of the entire season, the 2012 Dally M medallist finished the night with two tries, a try assist, five tackle breaks, three line breaks and a line break assist.
The win, which consolidates their spot atop the NRL ladder, was set up by quite a remarkable defensive showing inside the opening 20 minutes, where they turned the Panthers away 26 times inside their 20-metre zone.
In front of a strong crowd of 12,682 at Penrith Stadium, Cronulla had just three plays down in the opposition red zone when Barba showed off his signature acceleration upon a Fa’amanu Brown pass.
The defeat consigns the Panthers to 10th spot on the table ahead of a tough road trip to Brisbane next week, while the Sharks next face the struggling Sydney Roosters
The fate of the cat is yet unknown.