This is a vital match in the Titans’ season. Victory would give the team three wins from four games after a 0-3 start to the season. It would be just the second home win since round 6 2014 – a record the side knows it must arrest if it is to play finals football.
And it is against a Panthers side that blew with Titans off Carrington Park, Bathurst in the second half in round two, due to poor ball-control and discipline after the Panthers led just 8-0 at half-time with the Titans denied two tries in the first 10 minutes by contentious video referee decisions.
They are greatly different teams today from round two with Penrith missing halves Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace, centres Jamal Idris and Dean Whare and hard-working back-rower Lewis Brown while the Titans have Greg Bird, Dave Taylor and Beau Falloon back and Kane Elgey at halfback for the injured Daniel Mortimer.
The Penrith casualty list will make little difference to the Titans’ attitude to this important match. A win before an expectant home crowd is a priority, and it would take the Titans to six points and possibly just two out of the top eight.
Apisai Koroisau and Isaac John again fill the halves positions for Penrith and they are dynamic young players. Centre Robert Jennings makes his NRL debut, the third family member behind Test player Michael and George to play first grade. He replaces the injured former Titans centre Idris who suffered a season ending ACL injury. Bryce Cartwright, nephew of Titans foundation coach John Cartwright who was outstanding against us in round two, has been added to a five-man bench.
The Panthers have developed a culture where they have hungry and talented youngsters from their vast junior nursery who have the confidence and familiarity with structures to handle what the NRL throws at them, with the advantage of opponents knowing little about them. That’s top of mind for the Titans today. And they have won five of the past six clashes between the two teams to become a Titans’ bogey side.
Gold Coast are coming off their best 40 minutes of the season, a 26-0 period against the Eels, achieved through better ball control, execution of set plays, patience and a confidence that grew during the match.
Consistency, and turning tight losses into hard-earned victories at home, is what is now needed to prove the side is capable of climbing further up the ladder.
What Neil Henry has to say: click here
TITANS: Hoffman, Don, Roberts, Zillman, Mead, Sezer, Elgey, Douglas, Falloon, Myles (capt), James, Taylor, Bird. Interchange (from): White, Burr, Simpkins, Moseley, Paasi.
PANTHERS: Moylan, Josh Mansour, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Waqa Blake, Robert Jennings, Api Koroisau, Isaac John, Jeremy Latimore, James Segeyaro, Brent Kite, Sika Manu, Elijah Taylor, Nigel Plum. Interchange (from): Tyrone Peachey, Sam McKendry, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Isaah Yeo, Bryce Cartwright.
Match Officials: Referee: Jared Maxwell. Assistant Referee: Chris James. Touch Judges: Adam Reid and Kasey Badger. Video Referees: Steve Clark and Luke Patten.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live 3pm.
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 12 – Panthers 8 wins, Titans 4.
AT CBUS: Panthers 3 wins, Titans 2.
Last three clashes: 2015 – Panthers 40-0 (Bathurst), Penrith 36-14 (Cbus Super), Penrith 14-12 (Sportingbet)
TRIES SCORED: Panthers 23, Titans 20.
TRIES CONCEDED: Panthers 17, Titans 24.
COMPLETIONS: Panthers 74%, Titans 67%
GOALKICKING: Titans 81%, Panthers 63%