Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
The Panthers have kept their finals hopes alive with a critical 24-16 win over the Titans in front of over 11,000 fans.
The Panthers made a shaky start to Saturday afternoon's clash, coming up with a series of errors and penalties which gifted the Titans the chance the land the first points of the day - which they did. Ashley Taylor popped a perfect inside ball for Will Zillman who zipped through the defence and found Jarryd Hayne backing up in support for the opening try.
The rest of the first half was not all too pretty, with the Titans also guilty of a touch of ill-discipline and it would eventually cost them when Waqa Blake scooped up a Tyrone Roberts error to sprint away and score under the posts.
As a result, despite only completing at 65%, the Panthers would head into the sheds locked up against a Titans side who would be minus centre Konrad Hurrell for the rest of the game (hamstring).
The Titans opened the second forty in similar fashion to Penrith, conceding soft penalties and a gift two points would be taken by Nathan Cleary in the 45th minute to send Penrith in front for the first time. Another penalty saw the home side march upfield and they took full advantage! The Panthers had been guilty of poor last tackle options all game, but this one was perfectly executed with Blake crashing over for his second try off a beautiful sweeping play.
The following try would be marred by controversy after Penrith were denied a penalty despite the replay showing that Leivaha Pulu tripped Josh Mansour over as he chased a Cleary kick. Instead it would be the Titans who gained the penalty and Anthony Don would score in the ensuing set to reduce the deficit to four.
Just when it appeared as if the Titans were gaining momentum, an error from Kevin Proctor let Penrith off the hook and Neill Henry's men would come up with a crucial mistake five minutes later when Matt Moylan collected an Ash Taylor pass and scored to push his side's lead out to ten. Unfortunately for the five-eighth, that would be the end of his night with Moylan aggravating the hamstring issue that forced him out of last week's clash with the Warriors.
It appeared as if without Moylan, Cleary was stepping up once more. The young halfback would force two dropouts before laying on the final pass for Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to cross out wide and seal the result. The Titans would threaten to steal it late when Roberts strolled over in the 75th minute but it would amount to little as Penrith held on for an important 24-16 win.
Next week, Penrith will look to continue to place pressure on the currently 8th placed Dragons when they battle the under siege Bulldogs on Thursday night at Pepper Stadium. Meanwhile, the Titans' season goes on the line when they take on the Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Cbus Super Stadium.
Penrith Panthers 24 - Gold Coast Titans 16
Venue: Panthers Stadium
Halftime Score: Penrith Panthers 6 Gold Coast Titans 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Regan Campbell-Gillard
2 points - Nathan Cleary
1 points - Morgan Boyle
PENRITH PANTHERS (24)
Tries: Waqa Blake (2), Matt Moylan, Dallin Watene Zelezniak
Conversions: Nathan Cleary (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Nathan Cleary (1/1)
GOLD COAST TITANS (16)
Tries: Jarryd Hayne, Tyrone Roberts, Anthony Don
Conversions: Tyrone Roberts (2/3)