Panthers scrap their way to victory over Gold Coast

The Panthers have entered the top eight for the first time this year after outclassing the Titans 24-2 at Panthers Stadium on Friday night.

The win was their sixth straight and while the tries were spectacular, the resolve in defence was the highlight as the Gold Coast were held try-less.

After helping guide New South Wales to a series victory, five-eighth James Maloney backed up to once more play a key role in the victory.

With the Panthers under the pump defending their own line, Maloney found touch off a dropout to swing momentum.

And in the ensuing set he threw a beautiful looping pass to Brian To’o for Penrith’s second try.

Dylan Edwards also had his best game of the year, scoring two tries, running for over 200 metres and busting 12 tackles.

The entire back five were brilliant, combining for just under 1,000 running metres.

Strong contact from Dean Whare forced the ball loose from Bryce Cartwright to hand the Panthers early possession near the Gold Coast try line.

A penalty moments later saw Maloney point towards the sticks to hand Penrith a two-point lead.

Josh Mansour then threw it short to James Tamou who powered towards the line only to be just held up short.

Minutes later Brent Naden, who has signed a new deal with the Panthers that keeps him at the club until at least the 2021 season, pounced onto a smart Jarome Luai kick.

He ran out of room though, unable to ground it in the corner in time.

Poor execution hurt the Panthers early before a charge down brought the Titans into prime attacking field position and they locked things up shortly after through a Tyrone Roberts penalty goal.

The Titans almost looked certain to score when they took advantage of a staggered Panthers defensive line to put Anthony Don surging towards the posts.

But sheer determination from Dylan Edwards and Isaah Yeo stopped him in his tracks.

And Edwards was later rewarded for his defensive efforts with the opening try of the game.

A scheming Luai found Tamou in the middle close to the line and then backed up inside to keep the exchange of passes going.

Edwards finally finished it off next to the posts before Maloney slotted the conversion.

The king of big plays, soon after Maloney came up with two of his own.

First, he crucially found touch off a dropout to relieve pressure before throwing a cut-out pass as To’o soared over in the corner.

Maloney couldn’t convert this one from the sideline though.

It mattered little as he added two more when Wayde Egan sliced through the middle in the dying stages of the half to earn a penalty.

HALF-TIME: Panthers 14 - Titans 2

An early highlight in the second half came when Panther No. 588 Jed Cartwright ran on to make his debut in Panthers colours.

Having started his journey at the foot of the mountains in 2016, Cartwright has had to overcome a string of injuries in the lower grades before being rewarded for his determination with a first-grade call-up.

And he made the most of his 18 minutes on the field with plenty of involvement in defence and strong runs in attack.

Points were at a premium to start the second half, with the Panthers consistently repelling attack raids from the Titans.

Eventually Edwards capped off an impressive night at the back with his second try of the game, stepping back inside to score next to the posts in the 72nd minute.

The celebrations continued shortly after as Maloney again found To’o who brought the Panthers faithful to their feet with a brilliant put-down in the corner.

FULL-TIME: Panthers 24 Titans 2