Josh Hoffman and William Zillman have both scored doubles to help guide the Gold Coast Titans to their third win of the season after a convincing 32-6 victory over the Penrith Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium today.
For only the second-time of the season, the Titans managed to take a 10-6 half-time lead and were forced to dig-deep in the second-half after losing Ryan Simpkins and Agnatius Paasi to injury.
But when the second-half turned into an arm-wrestle, it was the Titans who took full advantage when the Panthers were reduced to 12 men after Isaah Yeo was sinbinned in the 66th minute for a professional foul, by scoring 10 points to shoot to a 20-6 lead with ten minutes remaining.
With the momentum and possession in their favour the Titans finished the match in style with Hoffman and Zillman both grabbing their second tries of the afternoon before Greg Bird, in his 100th game for the Titans kicked the final conversion to give the Titans the 32-6 victory.
Titans’ coach Neil Henry said despite giving away some cheap possession it was good to notch up back-to-back wins and keep the Panthers at bay in the second-half.
“The boys finished off really strongly when we put together some good sets of footy against a tiring team that didn’t have much possession in the back end of the game,” he said.
“We battled on out there. There was a period where we got some possession where we were able to finish our sets with some aggressive kick chases followed by some good defensive sets, which mounted a lot of pressure against the Panthers,” he said.
“We played some entertaining footy and were able to control our possession. I thought we did well to contain the Panthers given we gave them a fair bit of ball early.
“While we let them get down there on a couple of clear line breaks through our ruck, Josh Hoffman pulled off two good tackles on the try-line, we held them up over the line and we scrambled really well.
“Throughout the team we want to protect the line, we want to do what we can to prevent tries being scored and that’s what we expect. It’s pleasing to keep a side which really has some attacking ability about them to no points in 40 minutes of footy.”
Titans’ vice-captain Zillman said it was positive to get a win in front of a supportive home-crowd, but there is still room for improvement amongst the team.
“It was good to come away with the win at home, with a good last 40 minutes for us. But at the same time we need to start to put 80 minutes of football together,” he said.
“We took a bit of confidence out of last week. We’ve still got a long way to go but at the moment we’re going well.
“We did a lot of defence in the first half due to a lot of penalties and a lot piggy-backs down the field and I think it took its toll on us, at half time we were looking pretty tired. In the second-half we did the same thing to them and held out possession a lot better and the tides turned.”
It was the visitors who opened the scoring in the ninth minute with Matt Moylan throwing a deft pass to a hard-running Waqa Blake to score out wide before Moylan added the extras to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead.
Some great scrambling defence by the Titans held the Panthers at bay and they were rewarded for their efforts in the 17th minute with William Zillman collecting a deft Kane Elgey grubber to score in the corner to reel the deficit back to 6-4.
Some great team play by the Titans forced the Panthers defence to scramble and they took full advantage of the broken field play with Josh Hoffman barging his way across the line to score his first try in Titans colours before Aidan Sezer converted to give the side a 10-6 lead after 30 minutes of play.
Both sides began to push the offload bringing a few errors into the match, and the Panthers were gifted one-last attacking set on the Titans line, but the Titans defence held-strong to see the side take a 10-6 halt-time lead.
The Panthers looked to have opened the scoring in the second-half but were denied by the video-referee ruled a knock-on in the process of contesting the high-ball.
Both sides traded attacking blows, but it was against the run of play that the Titans took advantage with Zillman cleaning up a Panthers kicks to race downfield. On the following play-the-ball the Titans received a penalty in front and took the goal to take a 12-6 lead with just over 15 minutes remaining.
It was a double blow for the Panthers with Isaah Yeo being sent to the sin-bin for the professional foul which resulted in the penalty.
With the momentum in their favour and the extra man, the Titans began to produce some razzle-dazzle footy and when they received another penalty in front, they opted to take the two and edge clear beyond a converted try to lead 14-6.
The Titans continued to dominate with the extra man and extended their lead in the 69th minute when Ryan James reeled in an Elgey bomb before offloading to Luke Douglas who got the ball away to the speedier James Roberts to score under the posts giving Sezer an easy conversion and the Titans a 20-6 lead.
The Titans went back-to-back minutes later when Hoffman beat the ball to the dead-ball line to score his second try of the night before Sezer added the extras to give the Titans a 26-6 lead with 15minutes remaining.
The Tians finished the game with some razzle-dazzle with Zillman collecting the ball on his own 20 metre line before racing 80metres down-field to score next to the posts. In his 100th game for the Titans, Greg Bird stepped-up to take the conversion to give the Titans the 32-6 win.
The Titans will look to keep their winning streak alive when they take on the New Zealand Warriors next week.
Gold Coast Titans (J Hoffman 2, W Zillman 2, J Roberts tries; A Sezer 5, G Bird 1 goals) defeated Penrith Panthers 6(W Blake tries; M Moylan goals)