The Penrith Panthers survived a thrilling second half flight back, as Matt Moylan calmly slotted a match winning field goal in the dying moments of their clash with the Gold Coast Titans to secure a 15 – 14 win and confirm their position in the 2016 NRL Finals Series.
PANTHER POWER: The performance of Penrith in the opening half against the Titans stamped them as a side with the potential to make some serious disruptions in this year’s finals series. The Panthers were direct in attack and powerful through the forwards. Their defence repelled multiple attacking raids by the Titans and if they can replicate that football for 80 minutes there are a few teams currently in the Top 8 which will be worried about a match-up with the Mountain Men in the finals.
YOUTH UNLEASHED: The one thing that makes this Panthers side so exciting to watch could be the same thing that brings them undone come the finals. There exciting and daring football has put many memorable highlights in the reel over the last month but there is also the tendency for this to fall flat at times and let their opposition back into matches. On numerous occasions in their match with the Titans the Panthers made costly mistakes through overzealous attack which ultimately allowed the Titans to draw level late in their clash. This part of their game needs to be tempered (but not stamped out) – it is what makes them a exciting team but to win competitions sometimes you need to play conservative at times.
RUNNING THE GAUNLET: The Gold Coast Titans loss against the Panthers puts them in a sudden death match-up against the defending premiers (Cowboys) next Saturday afternoon to secure their place in this year’s Finals Series. The Titans 5 year absence from the finals looked to be coming to an end in 2016 but recent stumbles against the Warriors and now Panthers put them in a position where victory next week is their focus. There is a slight chance that they can make the finals even if they don’t win next week but that would require a significant stumble by the Warriors in their last two matches (which are against very beatable opposition), for now their destiny is in their own hands.
HOTTEST TICKET IN TOWN: Regardless of which side of the love/hate spectrum you sit with Jarryd Hayne there is no denying that he is the most marketable and attractive athlete in the NRL, and quite possibly the whole Australian domestic sporting market. Since his arrival on the Gold Coast fans have flooded through the gate to see the Hayne Plane. His ability to bring marketing success to a franchise is second to none and the NRL need to do everything they can to ensure Hayne finishes his playing career in the NRL and not in a rival code.
PENRITH PANTHERS 15 (W Blake M Moylan tries N Cleary 3 goals M Moylan field goal) defeated GOLD COAST TITANS 14 (G Bird L Pulu tries T Roberts 3 goals) at CBUS Super Stadium.
Referee: Chris Sutton, Grant Atkins.
Half-Time: 14-0 Panthers.