The Penrith Panthers and Gold Coast Titans kick off round 17 as we begin the road to the finals on Friday Night.
The opening saw the match play out with the home side gaining the ascendency. They were up over the advantage line and were able to settle the nerves with an early penalty goal. The Panthers found heaps of space out on their left, with Luai and Kikau combining well. It led to a chance for Naden, as the Titans defence rushed up on Kikau, allowing Luai to sneak a kick in behind the defensive line. Naden reached the bouncing ball first but AJ Brimson was successful in his cover defence and after this, the Titans worked their way back into the match off the back of a run of penalties. They were able to level the scores with a penalty goal of their own but whenever they looked likely their discipline with their hands let them down. And as the Panthers began to regain the ascendancy towards the end of the half, they were able to score two quick tries. The first through Dylan Edwards off some creative play from Jerome Luai and the second from Brian To’o, with an acrobatic dive in the corner. The Titans errors proved costly, leaking a penalty goal on the shadows of half-time, as they went into the halftime down 14-2.
The Titans were able to attack the line early on in the second half off the back of a 40/20 but were unable to execute anything substantial to create points or pressure. AJ Brimson almost set up a chance through a strong run but no matter what they came up with in attack, the Panthers were able to combat it. Along with their attack, the Titans defence let Penrith off the hook, allowing them easy yardage out of their end. Penrith were able to kick deep into corners and once they rode out the storm were able to build pressure through their direct style of play. It took a while but eventually Penrith crossed the line for the first points of the half through Dylan Edwards second, icing the match in the process. Penrith extended their lead through Brian To’o’s second try, regathering a Maloney kick and once again finishing it with a stunning dive in the corner. The Titans searched for a consolation try but the Panthers defence held strong giving them a sixth straight victory with a 24-2 win of the Titans.
The sixth consecutive win has placed the Penrith Panthers inside the top eight for the first time this year. It’s been a big turnaround since the start of the year where they were languishing near the bottom of the table. No player typifies this more than Dylan Edwards. Dropped from his fullback position at the start of the year, he has been a solid performer in more recent times, coming up with two tries tonight and getting their sets off to a fantastic start with his kick returns, racking up over 200 run metres.
JIMMY’S BIG 48 HOURS
James Maloney put in another solid effort, backing up from the big win on Wednesday night. He led the Penrith Panthers around expertly with his direction and kicking game, allowing Jarome Luai to inject himself in the game. Maloney’s impact was important with the late withdrawal of Nathan Clearly, his kicking game pinning the Titans down in their end of the field with his side on the back foot in attack.
LEAP OF TO’O
The Panthers were able to run away with this match off the back of tries coming late in the second half. The Titans tried desperately but their mistakes were costly. On the other side of the field, the young Penrith winger Brian To’o scored two tries with two giant leaps into the corner. His efforts typify the modern skill required for a modern day winger but, it still doesn’t take away from how spectacular the tries were.
ASH TAYLOR TO RETURN?
The Titans have been disappointing this season, even with their chief playmaker in the side. But with Ryley Jacks getting injured during this match, the calls will be out for Ashley Taylor to return. And it’s no doubt, at his best, Taylor is exactly the type of player they are missing. On top of that, the injury to Jai Arrow wasn’t just a big loss for the Maroons and while the Titans have been far from the best side this year, they certainly looked better with Arrow on the field.
Penrith Panthers 24
Tries: Dylan Edwards 2, Brian To’o 2
Goals: James Maloney 4/6
Gold Coast Titans 2
Goals: Tyrone Roberts 1/1
Penrith Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Brent Naden 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. James Maloney 8. James Tamou 9. Mitchell Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 15. Frank Winterstein 12. Isaah Yeo INTERCHANGE: 14. Wayde Egan 16. Moses Leota 17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 19. Jed Cartwright
Gold Coast Titans: 1. Alexander Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Brain Kelly 5. Phillip Sami 6. Tyrone Roberts 7.Ryley Jacks 8. Jack Stockwell 9. Nathan Peats 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Jarrod Wallace INTERCHANGE: 14. Mitch Rein 15. Shannon Boyd 16. Jai Whitbread 17. Will Matthews