Lachlan Coote earned a reprieve by being called back into first grade to replace an injured Josh Mansour, but he’ll struggle to keep his spot in the Penrith side for Saturday’s clash with the Eels after a horror performance against the Gold Coast at skilled Park today.
Originally dropped to Windsor this week, Coote had a hand in two Titans tries thanks to foolish errors, while he also put a kickoff out on the full following Gold Coast’s second try. Coote’s day was plunged further into crisis when he put a last tackle kick out on the full 25 minutes out from full-time.
Ivan Cleary’s ‘tough love’ approach at Penrith could result in a number of players nervously awaiting Tuesday’s team list, as the side struggled right across the park, producing an error-riddled performance and a defensive display that could only be described as embarrassing, eventually going down 36-18.
Rocked pre-match by the withdrawal of inspirational Origin star Luke Lewis as well as Sam McKendry and Josh Mansour, Penrith had their opportunities but couldn’t contain a Titans side that without being super impessive, did enough to win.
After a reasonably confident start from Penrith, it was the Titans who scored first after 11 minutes when Aidan Sezer collected a high bomb to cross under the posts.
Penrith almost returned serve just minutes later when Michael Jennings swooped on a loose ball 60 metres from the line, but he was pulled down just short of the line by a brilliant Titans chase.
A penalty from the ensuing play gave Penrith a great chance to score points, but a silly mistake handed the Titans the ball back.
The Titans extended their lead to 12-0 10 minutes from half-time with David Mead crossing for a length of the field try, after a Penrith mistake whilst on the attack close to the Gold Coast line.
Penrith compounded the try when Lachlan Coote put the kickoff out on the full – inviting the Gold Coast to score again. The scoreboard didn’t change, but it was a prime example of the way the Panthers’ day was unfolding.
And an even better example came just minutes later when Coote dropped a simple ball from Luke Walsh, allowing Steve Michaels to race away and open up an 18-0 lead.
Penrith started the second half just as poorly as they played in the first, Danny Galea dropping the ball on the second tackle of the Panthers’ first set of the second stanza.
It was no surprise, then, that just five minutes into the second half, Penrith’s defensive line offered little when the Titans got a repeat set, Sezer easily crossing for his second try to extend the lead to 24-0.
Penrith’s embarrassing defence was shown up again a few minutes later when Brenton Lawrence produced a few classy touch football moves to cross under the sticks, extending the lead to 30-0.
Penrith finally got on the board 22 minutes out from full-time when Arana Taumata chased a Luke Walsh kick to score his first try in Penrith colours.
At 30-6, however, the task of a comeback was too great for the Panthers.
Any chance of a barnstorming finish from Penrith was snuffed out 13 minutes from full-time when Luke O’Dwyer was on the end of a long-range effort from the Titans that saw them go up 36-6.
Penrith reached double figures when Cameron Ciraldo strolled over for his first try of the season six minutes from full-time; the try coming on the back of a brilliant Brad Tighe run down-field. Ryan Simpkins crossed to ensure the scoreline finished a little more respectable at 36-18.