The Roar
The Roar


Panthers surge into top eight with thrashing of Titans

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A resurgent Penrith have moved into the NRL top eight for the first time this season after shutting out Gold Coast 24-2 on Friday night.

Two nights after helping steer NSW to a famous State of Origin triumph, veteran James Maloney backed up to lead the Panthers to a sixth straight win.

The Blues playmaker set up two tries for winger Brian To’o, who impressed the 10,317 home crowd with his acrobatics in the corner.

Maloney was aided by electric halves partner Jarome Luai, who also delivered two on a platter for fullback Dylan Edwards in a dominant performance. 

The victory lifts Penrith over the Wests Tigers and Cronulla, who are yet to play this weekend, into eighth spot. 

It also seemingly puts another nail in the coffin of Titans coach Garth Brennan, whose side barely posed a threat against the Panthers defence. 

With star halfback Ash Taylor still sidelined on personal leave, Gold Coast were crying out for a playmaker to steer the team when the contest was in the grind. 

At one stage in the second half, prop Jarrod Wallace sent a bomb out on the full. 

Moments later, Luai, with his team holding a 12-point lead, put Edwards over to complete his brace in the 71st minute and seal the win. 
Maloney matched Luai by assisting on another aerial To’o try soon after.


Making matters worse for the Titans, halfback Ryley Jacks failed to complete the match due to a rib cartilage issue, opening the door for Taylor’s possibly return. 

Centre Dale Copley also missed most of the game after getting concussed.

Initially, Penrith had little to show for an imposing opening 20 minutes, when both teams traded penalty goals. 

It wasn’t until Luai cracked the game open with some individual magic in the 29th minute, touching the ball three times in one play for Edwards’s opener.

Gold Coast pushed for a response late in the half but Maloney’s quick line dropout paved the way for him to set up To’o’s first try.

The contest also marked the debut of second-rower Jed Cartwright, son of Panthers legend and Titans foundation coach, John.

In more good news for Penrith fans, rookie Brent Naden was rewarded for his impressive start to his career with a two-year extension before the game.