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NRL MATCH REVIEW: PENRITH PANTHERS 14 GOLD COAST TITANS 12

Penrith moved back into the top eight following a hard fought 14-12 win over the Gold Coast Titans at SportingBet Stadium.

The game was not without moments of controversy.  Inside the final five minutes of the game the Panthers looked certain to win off the back of a tremendous defensive effort where they held their line against a determined Titans outfit.  A controversial ‘squirrel grip’ by Greg Bird on Sika Manu saw the Panther lash out and eventually penalised on his own forty metre line.  Aiden Sezer moments later scored next to the posts and the Titans got within two with ninety seconds to go.  Both sides nervously had possession in the final stages, before Penrith held on for their fourth win of the season.

Easter Monday belonged to Peter Wallace.  Wallace made five tackle breaks within the first half hour as he ran circles around the Titans defense.  He combined with Jamie Soward to have a hand in the Dean Whare try ten minutes into the game.  On the half hour mark Wallace made a clean break through the middle of the defense. On the next play Soward’s kick in goal was fumbled at the back by the Titans before Matt Moylan grounded the ball.  Wallace’s influence on the game put the Panthers ahead by twelve.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to respond.  Ryan James crashed over the line from close range with three minutes until half time as the Titans trailed 12-6 at the break.  Gold Coast getting the upper hand as Penrith struggled to dominate with a lightweight pack they fielded in the latter stages of the half.  In bizarre circumstances it appeared that Penrith were denied a scrum just seconds before half time with the officials calling time before the hooter.  Penrith were denied one last crack at the Titans before the break.

Penrith were on the back foot early after a doubtful strip penalty awarded to Ashley Harrison.  One of two questionable decisions by the officials awarded in the forward’s favour.  The Titans missed an opportunity to score as the ball went over the touchline in an attacking raid.

When Brad Taikarangi took out ex-team mate Jamal Idris chasing a kick through, Soward converted a penalty goal on fifty minutes that ultimately would be the difference between the two sides at full time.

The next twenty-five minutes was dramatic football with both sides showing finals-like quality.  James Segeyaro went close to scoring but lost control of the ball close to the Titans line.  Tyrone Peachey broke the line and kicked in-goal to earn a goal line dropout.  Penrith’s defense was stretched on numerous occasions.  With thirteen minutes to go the Gold Coast had three sets on Penrith’s line when Albert Kelly spilled the ball, missing a golden opportunity to score.

With the intense pressure little spot fires started to appear.  When Josh Mansour received a penalty for a high shot by Kelly close to the Panthers line, Bird gave the winger a spray while he was receiving treatment.  Tim Grant and Nate Myles having a go at each other as a scrum set near the Panthers line.  At the height of the niggle was Bird’s incident with Manu that handed the Gold Coast a chance taken by Aiden Sezer scoring.

Wallace may have owned the night but former Titan Idris was at his best in the first forty minutes with some rampaging runs.  Kevin Kingston put in a massive fifty-three tackle effort and Jeremy Latimore was impressive with some solid hits.  The Titans were best served by Bird, Myles and Harrison.  Kelly was well contained and Dave Taylor wasn’t allowed room to cause havoc. Paul Carter, son of ex-Panther Steve was very good out of dummy half and displays the same sort of fighting spirit like his father.

Penrith will be looking for back-to-back wins against Cronulla on the road this Saturday, and the Gold Coast will face Wests Tigers at Leichhard on Sunday.

WHO CARES ABOUT ATTACK? DEFENSE THE REAL WINNER

We were all hoping for a full on attack against the Titans this week but again Penrith lacked points mainly because of the oppositions strong defense.  Finally we had a dry night and our attack was spearheaded by Wally and Idris.  Matty Moylan also looked good chiming into the back line and getting involved on a few occasions.  Just thinking of our back line, can someone please tell Josh Mansour to secure the ball properly when he runs with it?  He’s been a bit sloppy in the ball handling department lately.  I digress and talk about what really won us the game – defense!  To repel the Titans who love staging late game fight backs was simply brilliant.  Does it really matter how many points we score as long as we’re winning?

REFEREE’S BOSS IMPRESSED WITH OFFICIAL’S PERFORMANCE

Now that I’ve got your attention – who the hell would want to be a ref?  Last nights officiating carried on from the rest of the weekend with bad calls.  It’s been coming for some time now.  Referee’s rely too much on ‘coaching’ from the referee’s box instead of using their brain and making a decision for themselves.  Harrison receiving two stripping penalties received huge criticism from club legend Greg Alexander who said the referee’s were just guessing.  Ryan James looked short of the line when scoring but the referee’s didn’t take the option to go upstairs and check.  Replays were inconclusive.  No action on the Greg Bird ‘squirrel grip’ – and the NRL taking no action either.  I also noticed the Titans using decoys near the Panthers line.  God only knows what would have happened if a try was scored what flip of the coin decision would have been made.  Why are the referee’s relying too much on ‘coaching from the box’?  No one wants to be sacked, do they?

GREG BIRD HATED BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER

Queenslanders loath him and now Panther fans in New South Wales have him as public enemy number one after grabbing the balls of Sika Manu.  Sam Burgess was suspended for something similar in Melbourne last year.  You be the judge at the photo, was Bird doing what we think he was doing? Add your comment at the end of the story.

IVAN CLEARY’S PRESSER
Ivan seems pretty happy with Penrith’s win. Wally also makes an appearance.

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