They are capable of playing much better but the Penrith Panthers will take the win, after they ran out 18-4 winners against a poor Gold Coast Titans side.
Penrith made 12 errors and missed 53 tackles – uncharacteristic stats for a side of their calibre – yet were still able to win.
The Panthers started with all the early momentum as they forced several repeat sets, only for the Titans defence to hold firm and keep them out.
Penrith thought they had first points when Dylan Edwards went over but the play was called back due to an obstruction by Nathan Cleary.
The Titans then went close to scoring, only for young half Toby Sexton to be held up over the line.
It was a meek first half by anyone’s standards and the Titans were the ones to open the scoring as Greg Marzhew charged down the wing to score.
The good teams do not die wondering, however, and Cleary stood up as he grubbered ahead for Izack Tago to score.
Penrith would nab first points in the second half as well, with Cleary again involved, when he linked with Viliame Kikau to score himself.
The Titans had their own opportunities to get back in the contest and make a fist of things.
However, their lack of execution and inability to produce any sustained pressure proved their downfall.
The Panthers then iced the game when Cleary laid on another try assist for halves partner Jarome Luai to score.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary knows his side were not at their best but praised the resiliency his players showed in the win.
“It was a win for our culture tonight,” said Cleary.
“We definitely weren’t at our best.
“Just a heap of yardage errors which we haven’t been doing.
“Any game where you make so many yardage errors you’re going to be in trouble but our defence held firm and if you do that you can win games.”
One of the bigger talking points was the surprise benching of David Fifita prior to kick off. Titans coach Justin Holbrook explained his reasoning.
“I think David is more an impact player,” Holbrook said.
“I’d rather he play 60 minutes that are full of quality rather than get gassed and try to push him to 80 minutes just for the sake of it.
“I’d like the luxury of starting Dave, getting him off, and then getting him back on but you have to worry about your middles.”
Penrith Panthers 18 (Cleary, Luai, Tago; Goals: Cleary 3) def. Gold Coast Titans 4 (Marzhew).
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Nathan Cleary (PEN)
2. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (GLD)
1. Viliame Kikau (PEN)