A new-look NYC Panthers outfit came from behind to beat the Titans 28-24 at Pepper Stadium and notch up their tenth-straight victory.
Without halves pairing Tyrone May and Nathan Cleary it was always going to be a tough game to win but Penrith put in a strong second half performance to walk away victors.
It wasn't the best of starts from the Panthers as Ethan Roberts capitalised on a first set penalty for the Titans to dart through the Panther’s line to grab a try in just the second minute. Tyrone Roberts-Davis converting from right in front to give Titans an early 6-0 lead.
A penalty after ten minutes gave the Titans a fresh set just metres out and they took full advantage with Josh Rogers shrugging off his tackler to secure a try next to the uprights. Roberts-Davis again making no mistake with an easy conversion to make 12-0 to the Titans on 13 minutes.
Corey Waddell went within a metre of the Titans line for the Panthers with 18 minutes gone only for the forward to cough the ball up in the tackle.
The Titans then went charging up the field with Roberts-Davis only denied a try on the left wing by a forward pass. They were to get another crack at the Panthers line soon after though with Jack Nelson losing the ball just 20 metres out. The Penrith defence doing enough to keep the Titans out and force a knock on.
On 24 minutes the Panthers won a set 10 out, only for a one-on-one strip on the first tackle denying them any real crack at the Titans line.
The Panthers weren’t to be denied there first try on 27 minutes however as Jack Hetherington broke through the Titans line to touch down under the posts. Jarome Luai converting to close the gap to 12-6 Titans.
A well weighted kick from Penrith the set following the kick-off forced a Titans dropout and put Penrith on the front foot but they weren’t able to break the Titans line with 33 minutes played.
Consecutive penalties fell the way of the Panthers but again the Titans line held firm with half-time approaching.
The Titans were then able to break the Panthers line moments before the siren with Rogers again finding his way to line after charging through the Penrith defence. This only a few plays after Luai spectacularly denied a Titans try. Roberts-Davis converting after the siren to give the Titans an 18-6 lead at the break.
HALFTIME - Titans 18-6
A penalty two minutes into the second half gave the Panthers early territory but Penrith’s attack was lacking its trademark potency as the Titans line continued to hold firm.
On 47 minutes a Panthers incursion down the left showed what they were capable of in attack but again couldn’t result in any points.
The Panthers persistence in attack did finally pay dividends with a Luai pass 20 metres out finding a pacey Daniel Brown on his inside as the full back sprinted through the Titans line and to the try-line. Luai adding the extras from right in front to make it 18-12 Titans with 53 minutes played.
On 60 minutes, Penrith forced a Titans dropout and Corey Waddell grabbed a third Panthers try with a brilliant solo effort. The forward breaking a tackle and dodging past four Titan defenders to score under the posts. Luai converting to equalise for the Panthers and make it 18-18.
A big fumble from the Titans 20 out from their own line with 64 minutes played gifted the Panthers a big chance to take the lead for the first time. Something they eventually did do with a Luai grubber taking a big deflection and Christain Crichton benefitting to plant the ball down on the left wing. Luai couldn’t convert but the Panthers still led for the first time 22-18.
A Panthers penalty on 69 minutes gave them a set 20 out from the Titans line and Daniel Brown pounced on a stripped ball to bag his second of the game. Luai’s conversion was successful to extend Penrith’s lead to 28-18 in the 71st minute.
Straight from the kick-off, Braidon Burns broke down the right wing making a 50 metre run but couldn’t find support on his inside as the Titans reclaimed possession.
The Titans then went within 5 of the Panthers line only for a wayward pass on the right wing denying them what would’ve been a crucial try. They were to grab a try on the opposite wing minutes later though as Josh Ralph crossed over after a strong run from Brian Kelly. Roberts-Davis converting from the sideline to close the Panthers lead to 28-24 with a minute to play.
A Titans penalty with 15 seconds to play gave them a final shot at the Panthers line but the Penrith line couldn’t be broken as they secured a 10th straight win.
FULLTIME - Panthers 28-24