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Panthers magic holds Titans at bay

Penrith produced some dazzle of their own to round out the NRL's Magic Round, but it was a gritty effort by the Titans in the second half that will give fans encouragement.

The Panthers kept their unbeaten run alive with a 48 points to 12 win, after leading 30-nil at half-time.

The Titans played the entire second half with just 12 players after having Herman Ese'ese sent off.

Down a player, it was a gritty performance in the second half by the Gold Coast side with the Panthers only claiming an 18-12 result in the second 40.

The Panthers had the first try scoring chance, with Brian To’o crossing the line.  AJ Brimson and Anthony Don both had arms underneath the Panthers winger, but when sent upstairs for review it didn’t make it to the put-down phase.  The review showed that Viliame Kikau had taken out Keven Proctor.

After a tight exchange, Moses Leota shifted the momentum and gave the Panthers possession with a one-on-one strip on Tyrone Peachey.

The momentum play was backed up by points, with Penrith opening the scoring through Nathan Cleary.  Isaah Yeo shrugged off two Titans defenders close to the line and found the halfback who, despite an effort from AJ Brimson, reached out to score the try.

Loeta’s luck was short lived, with the front rower collecting Jamal Fogarty high as the Titans halfback kicked the ball – the Panther sent to the bin for 10 minutes at the 15 minute mark.

Gold Coast had a big chance immediately after, with Esan Marsters running from half and going within centimetres of scoring.  The next play, the Titans crossed in the left corner with Phillip Sami finishing a nice passage of play.  The points didn’t count, with the video ref deeming that Beau Fermor took out Cleary with a decoy run.

Straight into counter attack, Cleary scored a second.  Stephen Crichton made a break through the middle and found Cleary who was tackled about 20 metres out from the line.  The next play, Dylan Edwards went to his right from half, dishing the ball back to Cleary who muscled over to score.

19 minutes into the game saw Tyrone Peachey put on report for a high tackle.

After a six again call went the way of Penrith, it was James Fisher-Harris who added another try with the front rower crashing over next to the posts to give his side an 18-0 lead.

The Titans struggled to get an attacking chance in the first half, with Penrith having 60% of possession.

When the Gold Coaster’s finally had the ball, a cross-field kick to Anthony Don bounced to the ground and saw Dylan Edwards race 90 metres downfield.  A brilliant effort by Don in his 150th game stopped the try, but Leota (back on the field) was able to power his way over to score.

With minutes left in the first half, the Titans went down to 12-men with Herman Ese’ese sent off.  Fresh onto the field, Ese’ese collected Brian To’o high with referee Adam Gee deciding that it warranted a send off.

Penrith scored another in the dying minutes of the half, with Charlie Staines scoring the right corner to give the Panthers a 30-0 lead at the break.

Liam Martin crossed after 14 minutes of the second stanza, with the Panthers capitalising on the extra man to find the overlap.

The Titans appeared to have scored when Sam McIntyre crossed.  Anthony Don contested a bomb, with the ball bouncing off his hip into the hands of McIntyre.  The second rower reached out with the ball above his head but it was deemed that there was a bobble in the put-down and he was denied his first Titans try.

Another chance came soon after with Jamal Fogarty drifting across field with a deft kick in behind creating a contest between Brian Kelly and Dylan Edwards.  Edwards touched the ball, Kelly regathered but it was judged that he dropped the ball as he juggled the put-down.

Viliame Kikau broke through and appeared to have scored for Penrith at the 26 minute mark of the half, but again on review it was deemed no try.  In the lead up, Liam Martin led with the forearm and was put on report for contact with Tanah Boyd.  In the same passage of play, Sam McIntyre left the field after taking a hit to his left eye.

The Titans saw joy minutes later and it came through Beau Fermor.  The second rower, who had been a workhorse in defence, had a chance to show his skill with the ball.

A flat pass by Fogarty saw Fermor hit a nice line and beat Cleary on the way to score.

Off the kick return, Kikau picked up Jarrod Wallace and marked him over the sideline.  The Titans defence held strong with the Panthers in attack, but Jaimin Jolliffe did see himself on report for a high tackle on Dylan Edwards.

Wallace redeemed the error with a one-on-one strip and the Titans went into attack - again through Fermor.

The Dalby product found space down the left edge, and was able to connect with Brimson in support who crossed for the Titans second.

Scott Sorensen went into the books for a high tackle on Tyrone Peachey and the Titans had another attacking chance with seven minutes left in the game.

While testing the defences, the Titans couldn't cross.  Instead it was Penrith who had the final say with Nathan Cleary scoring his third try.

The Titans have a chance to move back into the top eight when they return to Cbus Super Stadium to host the Canterbury Bulldogs in round 11.