For the first time in over a year the Gold Coast Titans have secured back-to-back NRL wins with a 32-6 victory over Penrith on Saturday.
Young halfback Kane Elgey set up two first-half tries as the Titans overran an undermanned and error-riddled Panthers to secure their first home win of the season.
In front of 9,244 fans at a CBUS Super Stadium where the southern end was closed, the Titans secured their first consecutive wins since rounds five and six last year.
It was also just the Titans’ second win at home in 13 matches, with Will Zillman and Josh Hoffman both securing try doubles for the home team.
The Panthers started brightly, dominating the early passages, and jumped out to a 6-0 lead when Matt Moylan dived over.
But without regular halves Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace, the Panthers attack often stuttered to a messy end and the Titans eventually wrestled their way back into the game.
Elgey, a Gold Coast junior who is off-contract at the end of the year but may be lured to stay if Daly Cherry-Evans does back out of his multi-million dollar deal to join the club next year, played the most impressive half of his brief first-grade career.
The 21-year-old’s smart grubber got the home team on the board when Zillman dived over to score his first try at Robina since round 12, 2013.
The home team then hit the front when Elgey rounded off some clever passing with an inside ball to Hoffman for the former Brisbane back to crash over for his first try in Titans colours.
Both teams were reduced to two players on the bench for most of the second half with Agantius Paasi (foot) and Ryan Simpkins (knee) both failing to finish the match for the Titans while Josh Mansour (knee) and Brent Kite (lower leg) didn’t return after halftime for the visitors.
Those absences came after both teams had earlier suffered setbacks before kickoff with Titans captain Nate Myles (calf) and Panthers skipper Elijah Taylor (knee) both ruled out.
The second-half started tightly with the Panthers committing several handling errors when in good attacking positions before a Zillman break resulted in Isaah Yeo being sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul.
Down a man, the Panthers crumbled as the Titans stormed home with former Panther James Roberts crossing for his eighth try of the year before Hoffman and Zillman added late gloss with their second tries of the contest.
Gold Coast will look to make it three wins in a row when they travel to Auckland to play the Warriors on ANZAC Day while the Panthers host Cronulla in their next fixture.