Penrith coach Anthony Griffin has teed off at his side’s defence, labelling their 34-26 defeat to the Wests Tigers as their worst defensive effort of the NRL season.
The six tries were the most they conceded all year, dropping the Panthers out of the top eight for just the second time since April and in a dogfight to make the finals.
Of most concern to Griffin was the 15-minute period before halftime where his men gave up four tries.
“Twenty-two points in 15 minutes just before halftime basically ripped the game out of our control,” he said.
“It was hard from there. It was our worst night for us this year defensively, we were just too loose and outplayed there.”
Makeshift five-eighth and NSW State of Origin hopeful Bryce Cartwright was twice exposed by Tigers star James Tedesco before he was pulled back to defend closer in-field.
He missed a game-high five tackles on the night, however Griffin insisted it wasn’t a concern.
“We’re all better than that. There’s a lot of mistakes being made around Bryce as well defensively,” he said.
Skipper Matt Moylan said his team wasted a strong start that got them a 14-2 lead by the 20-minute mark.
We need to keep the foot on the throat there for the rest of that first half. We let them back in the game,” he said.
One silver lining for the club was the NRL debut of English mid-season recruit Zak Hardaker, who almost bagged a try in a 30-minute cameo late in the second half when he came on in the centres.
“We wanted to get him into the game there at some stage. He came on at a really bad time … but I thought he handled himself really well,” Griffin said.