Slow starts mystify the Panthers
Penrith Panthers coach Anthony Griffin admits he's at a loss to understand why his side have started slowly in the past fortnight before surging home in the second halves after another scare against the Newcastle Knights on Sunday.
While the scoreline wasn't a complete mirror of the comeback over the Warriors, piling on 30 points in the final half was again achieved by Griffin's outfit with the Knights forced to make an extra 104 tackles despite enjoying 52 percent of possession for the game.
Two tries to the Knights inside nine minutes left the Panthers chasing from the beginning of the contest, while injuries to Peter Wallace (groin) and Bryce Cartwright (knee) left the visitors down to 15 for the second stanza.
"Sometimes I wish I could [explain it]," Griffin said of the slow starts.
"Newcastle are in good form at the moment and did a job on Canberra last week so they're confident and flew out of the gates with a lot of ball early in the game.
"We shouldn't be leaking those points but the thing I like that we're doing at the moment is not lying down and at half-time again we just spoke about winning the game and how we were going to."
Griffin said in similar circumstances to the previous week, there were no blow-ups from the coach at the half-time break despite the Panthers putting in a lacklustre showing in the opening half.
Several key players including Trent Merrin (217 metres) and James Tamou (154 metres) stood up to steamroll the Knights after the break.
Rookie forward Viliame Kikau also produced a solid showing on the left edge with a 152-metre effort in 64 minutes.
"It just came back to doing things more simple as a team and pulling tighter then what we were in the first half," Griffin said.
"When we got the ball [in the second half] we were disciplined and didn't have any errors in us.
"There is no easy way to win a game but we need to find a better way and the team we've got at the moment is learning how to win."
Panthers skipper Matt Moylan was confident the side could put in a repeat performance after last week's effort and believed Newcastle were only just holding on as the visitors grew momentum after half-time.
Moylan scored the first double of his career after shifting between five-eighth and fullback in attack and defence throughout the contest.
"We're just finding ourselves on the back foot of first halves in the last couple of weeks and have to play good footy to get ourselves out of it," Moylan said.
"We got back into the game and didn't have to play anything expansive to get there.
"The first [try] probably give us a lot of confidence to back ourselves to play direct and simple.
"We built some pressure with some of the finishes and were able to score points on the back of that."
This article first appeared on NRL.com.