Gold Coast have put aside the off-field drama over a possible backflip by prized recruit Daly Cherry-Evans to post back-to-back NRL wins for the first time in more than a year.
The Titans ran all over an undermanned Penrith line-up late in the second half on Saturday to post a 32-6 win at Cbus Super Stadium.
Not only was the victory the Titans’ first home win of the season but, combined with last weekend’s win over Parramatta, it was the club’s first consecutive successes since rounds five and six in 2014.
Young halfback Kane Elgey showed the Titans might not have to look far for a No.7 next year if Manly’s Cherry-Evans does back out of his four-year deal with the club, as has been reported.
Playing only his fourth NRL game, Elgey had a hand in both the Titans’ first-half tries and has now been on the winning side in three of his first-grade appearances.
Saturday’s win was also a day to remember for former Brisbane star Josh Hoffman, as he picked up his first two four-pointers in a Titans’ jersey.
Will Zillman, filling in as captain after Nate Myles’ troublesome left calf ruled him out of the game, also picked up a double. They were his first tries at home since round 12, 2013.
Titans coach Neil Henry said there was a real feeling of something building at the club after such a troubled pre-season.
“Last week’s was a great performance against Parramatta, who have been very good at home, and to come here and have lost after that would be deflating,” Henry said.
The win was soured by the news that former Panther Ryan Simpkins might have done an anterior cruciate ligament during the second half.
Myles and Agnatius Paasi (foot) will also need to be assessed during the week.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary was pragmatic after the defeat, especially with the absence of halves Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace telling in the visitors’ fragmented approach to attack.
Despite dominating possession in the opening minutes of both halves, crucial errors took their toll on the Panthers’ opportunities.
With Josh Mansour (knee) and Brent Kite (lower leg) failing to return for the second half, a sin bin to Isaah Yeo midway through the second-half spelt the end of the Panthers’ challenge.
“When we got to 12 men, that was a significant change in the game,” Cleary said.
“We were just disjointed the whole day today.
“We never, ever got our game on today and down to 12 men, and they put a couple of tries on, our spirits got dented a bit.”
The Titans travel to New Zealand next weekend to play the Warriors on ANZAC Day, while the Panthers host Cronulla.