Cleary’s Panthers go down to Titans
Mon, 18 Jun 2012 2:24a.m.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary called his team's 36-18 NRL capitulation to revitalised Gold Coast, an exercise in self-mutilation.
It's hard to disagree after the Panthers butchered several gilt-edged opportunities against an injury-hit Titans at Skilled Park.
Both teams were down on key players going into the match but the Titans' defence was superb and the Panthers never got a sniff of victory.
Gold Coast lost centre Beau Champion (ankle) after five minutes and NSW State of Origin star Greg Bird (strained pectoral muscle) early in the second half.
Both will undergo scans on Monday and are in doubt for the Titans' clash with St George Illawarra at WIN Stadium on Friday night.
Bird told reporters that he had "aggravated an old injury" but didn't elaborate.
However in a positive sign for NSW fans ahead of the Origin series decider, Titans coach John Cartwright said: "I think it's precautionary. They're worried about his pec. I'm pretty sure it's not major."
Cartwright also lost Matt Srama (shoulder) for most of the first half but the hooker returned for the final 30 minutes, while centre Jamal Idris (ankle) was ruled out on Thursday.
"The pleasing thing was the defence," Cartwright said. "We forced errors into them, that was the key."
Cleary was forced to make a swag of changes with fullback Josh Mansour, five-eighth Travis Burns, NSW Origin back-rower Luke Lewis and prop Sam McKendry all out injured.
"Wow, I didn't expect a performance like that," Cleary says. "We could probably reach out for some excuses and we did have some disruptions but it was a bit of an exercise in self-mutilation for us.
"There was lots of effort but if you're providing a blueprint to win a football game, we didn't get anywhere near it."
Panthers fullback Lachlan Coote, who'd been named to play for Windsor Wolves in the NSW Cup this week, had a day he would rather forget.
Coote threw an intercept pass that led to a David Mead try and fumbled a pass that resulted in the four-pointer to centre Steve Michaels that gave the hosts an 18-0 halftime lead.
He was also brushed aside attempting to tackle try-bound forward Brenton Lawrence in the 49th minute as the depleted Titans raced to a 30-0 lead.
Five-eighth Aidan Sezer continued his rapid rise, scoring a brace of tries, while utility Luke O'Dwyer was named man-of-the-match playing off the bench as the Titans recorded their fourth win from their past five matches.
"The confidence is quite high at the moment and the self-belief is certainly there," Titans skipper Scott Prince says.
"It just looks like everyone's really enjoying themselves and it makes life easy for the halves."
It wasn't until the 59th minute that the Panthers finally got points on the board with a try to Arana Taumata, who played off the bench a year after being stood down for stealing a prescription pad from the club's doctor.
Late tries to Cameron Ciraldo and Ryan Simpkins restored some pride for the Panthers.
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