Comeback kings strike again as Panthers beat Titans


Gold Coast Titans prop Ryan James


Somehow, the comeback kings have done it again; the Penrith Panthers winning after being behind, this time against the Gold Coast Titans. 

How they are always doing it is anyone’s guess but it has many questioning their premiership credentials against more elite sides.

In a game that went to extra-time, it was villain-turned-hero in Nathan Cleary that shone brightest.

Missing what is usually an easy conversion by his standards, the miss pushed the game to golden point.

But it all came full circle as Cleary, calmly as you like, slotted the winning field goal and gave Penrith a 17-16 win at Cbus Super Stadium.

In a week mired with turmoil of sorts for the Panthers; the sacking of Anthony Griffin, the rumours around Ivan Cleary and much more, they somehow found a way to win.

It was a first-up win as an NRL coach for Cameron Ciraldo although his side has much to improve on.

Slow starts have killed them in 2018 and this game was no different.

The Titans got on the scoreboard first when Ryan James powered over from close range.

The Panthers did, however, hit back, when Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Cleary and Waqa Blake all combined to with the latter scoring.

Both sides shot themselves in the foot a few times in the ensuing plays, especially the Titans who could have scored soon after.

They would eventually get their next try, though, as a Panthers error gifted a try to Titans winger Philip Sami.

Another soon followed as Anthony Don took a simple interception and coasted away to score and give the Titans a 16-6 lead.

In a match largely dominated by the Titans, the Panthers side were lucky to be in it at all.

Two quick tries followed, however, as the comeback kings somehow got it back to 16-all.

First, a Dean Whare break through brittle Titans defence saw Cleary score.

Before a run play on the last went through the hands and it was Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who levelled things up.

Cleary may have gone on to miss the conversion but he certainly did not miss the field goal.

Ciraldo praised his side for their resolve and half Cleary for how he has handled himself amid speculation this week.

“I didn’t think we were playing well enough, to their credit they are just a talented group,” the rookie coach said.

“They pulled it out at the end there and I am so glad to the bloke sitting next to me for him to win it for us after the week he’s had, not of his own doing.

“The way he has handled himself this week, I couldn’t be prouder of him and I’m just so happy that he had the chance to win us the game and he nailed it.”

Player of the Game:

3. Ryan James

2. Nathan Cleary

  1. Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

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