Bryce Cartwright's penalty try.

It was such a Bryce Cartwright way for the Titans to break their 2019 Telstra Premiership duck.

With his team winless and the scores locked at 24-all against the Panthers, Cartwright followed through on a Dale Copley kick into the in-goal, Penrith utility Tyrell Fuimaono tugging at his jersey.

Cartwright won the race to the ball yet video replays showed that he failed to ground the ball properly but the Fuimaono interference was enough for match officials to award a penalty try. 

Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan almost had a straight face when he suggested Cartwright had mucked it up on purpose to make the Michael Gordon conversion even easier, a claim Cartwright himself couldn’t back up.

"Nah, I don't even know what happened there. I'm just happy they called it a try,” Cartwright said.

"I don't think I've scored a penalty try or anything like that before.

“I knew we were going to get the call either way, whether it was a penalty or something else because he held me back, but it was nice to get the win that way.”

Maligned for an indifferent first year at the Titans in 2018 that included stints in the Intrust Super Cup, Cartwright has played every minute since being thrust into the starting side against the Rabbitohs in round three.

There were handling errors against the Panthers but there were also bone-rattling tackles and courageous carries when his team desperately needed them.

"In previous years I probably wouldn't have been there for that try but I'm backing my fitness now,” Cartwright said.

“I've had a really good pre-season and [Titans Head of Performance] Dan Ferris has been training us really hard so I probably I wouldn't have been there in previous years.

"I'm always going to have people that don't like me but that's just footy. As long as my teammates respect me and the fans here and my friends and family, that's all I'm worried about.

"The biggest thing for me was to earn the respect of my teammates.”

Brennan staked his early reputation as Titans coach on the recruitment of Cartwright, claiming he could bring the best out of the mercurial talent.

Now that he has settled into a role as the left-edge back-rower, Brennan more than anyone is encouraged by Cartwright’s willingness to put his body on the line for his team.

Titans fullback Michael Gordon.
Titans fullback Michael Gordon. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

“He came up with those two errors back to back which he was dirty on himself for but I thought he defended pretty well and he had some really strong carries when the boys needed someone to step up and just carry the ball strong,” said Brennan.

"He turned up there [for the penalty try]. If he doesn't turn up...

"He probably could have got the ball himself and put the ball down and scored but in hindsight it's probably a good thing that he didn't. We got a penalty right underneath our posts so finally something started to go our way.”

He may not yet find some sick enjoyment in sacrificing his body with a tough run – “I’m getting used to it but it’s still pretty crap” – but Cartwright knows what the 30-24 win means for the team after such a difficult opening month.

“I thought the crowd was really good tonight, they got behind us,” said Cartwright, who ran for 84 metres and made 28 tackles against his former club.

“There was a period there in the second half where I felt like we kept them in their 40-metre line for five or 10 minutes.

"Not much was said but in the back of my mind it just felt like we weren't going to lose it. I spoke to a few of the boys afterwards and I think they felt the same.

"It would have been terrible going in 0-5, especially back here at home, but that will give us a lot of confidence.”