The Gold Coast Titans two-match winning streak has come to an end after suffering a 35-12 loss to the Penrith Panthers at Panther Stadium this afternoon.
It was a disruptive start to the match for the Titans who were forced into a late reshuffle after losing Morgan Boyle in the warm-up with Ryan Simpkins replacing him on the bench.
Despite the loss of the big man, the Titans managed to produce a solid first-half with the smaller forward pack going set-for-set with the larger Panthers pack before conceding a late try to go into the break narrowly trailing 10-6.
But the Panthers came out of the sheds firing and were led beautifully around the paddock by the in-form James Maloney who helped the side post three quick-tries to shoot out to a 24-6 lead after 55 minutes.
As usual the Titans continued to show heart and got back into the contest at 24-12 with Anthony Don crossing but the home-side proved too strong posting two late tries and a field-goal to take the two competition points.
It was the Panthers who got across the line first but were denied by the bunker who ruled a Dylan Edwards double-movement in the process of getting the ball down.
There was no denying the Titans in the eighth minute with Dale Copley completing a slick back-line play before carrying three defenders over to score in the corner. With Michael Gordon converting from the touchline the Titans took a 6-0 lead.
The game turned into an arm-wrestle before back-to-back penalties put the Panthers on the attack and they took full advantage with Corey Harawira-Naera crossing. With Maloney unable to add the extras, the Titans led 6-4 after 26 minutes.
The Titans suffered two injury setback with hooker, Nathan Peats (rib cartilage) and halfback Ash Taylor (HIA check) forced from the field.
With momentum in their favour the Panthers went on the attack and they capitalised with utility forward James Tamou crashing over next to the posts to give Maloney an easy conversion and the side a 10-6 half-time lead.
It was a change of fortunes for the teams at the start of the second-half with Taylor passing his HIA to return but the Panthers lost Josh Mansour after copping an accidental knee from a flying Don.
Despite the loss of Mansour, it was the Panthers who posted first-points in the second-half with Maloney dummying his way through the line before drawing-and-passing to Dylan Edwards to cross under the posts. With Maloney adding the extras, the Panther lead extended to 16-6 after 45 minutes.
The Titans lost Bryce Cartwirght to the sin-bin after repeated penalties on the goal-line. On the back of another penalty, the Panthers opted to take the penalty-goal to extend their lead out to 18-6 with 28 minutes remaining.
With the extra player and momentum in their favour, the Panthers were playing a free-flowing style of footy and extended their lead in the 54th minute with Tyrone Peachey supporting well to finish off an Edwards break to score under the posts. Maloney converted from in-front to give the home-side the 24-6 lead.
With possession swinging back in their favour the Titans went on the attack and managed to reel back the deficit with Don pouncing on a Kane Elgey grubber to score in the corner. With Gordon adding the extras, the Titans trailed 24-12 with 20 minutes remaining.
But the Panthers put an end to the Titans comeback efforts with Harrawria-Naera producing some fancy footwork to cross for his second-try in the 62nd minute before Maloney slotted the conversion for a 30-12 lead.
A string of penalties gifted the Titans possession on the Panthers line and the home-side paid the price for continued infringements with debutant Kaide Ellis being sin-binned.
The Panthers finished the game in style with Maloney slotting a 30metre field-goal and winger Christian Crichton scoring a diving try in the corner to give the side the 35-12 victory.
The Titans will take on the under-siege North Queensland Cowboys at 1300 Smiles Stadium next Sunday.
Penrith Panthers 35 (C Harawira-Naera 2, J Tamou, D Edwards, T Peachey, C Chrighton tries; J Maloney 5 goals, 1 field-goal) defeated Gold Coast Titans 12 (D Copley, A Don tries; M Gordon 1 goals)