The final score shows Gold Coast Titans 28, Panthers 10.
It looks on the surface like a comprehensive victory for the visiting team. However, it was strange game of football out at Penrith yesterday afternoon.
Don’t get me wrong; it was very entertaining. It’s just that most of the entertainment was provided by the losing side.
The Panthers played more of the good football, provided more of the better moments and created by far the most scoring opportunities, but ended up well behind on the scoreboard when the siren sounded.
Gold Coast won because they played with greater attitude, control, confidence and composure – not to mention a few brilliant defensive saves.
They also had the luxury of playing from in front on the scoreboard for most of the game. They were patient, defended their points and waited for the Panthers to try to force the pace and play beyond their means. When the errors came, the Titans pounced.
It didn’t seem there was much between the two teams in the general run of the contest. Only eight points separated them with less than five minutes left on the clock.
The home side did have three tries disallowed. The first of these was crucial because it would have given them the early lead, which would have had a vastly different effect on their mentality. It shouldn’t affect their thinking but in the Panthers’ case, it often does.
The home team did get across the line a couple more times but were denied by resilient Titans defence.
Just when it looked like something good was about to happen, the Panthers snatched disappointment from the jaws of pleasure.
To be honest, that’s about where the Panthers seem to be at as a football team. Again yesterday they were their own worst enemies.
The Panthers can produce great passages of attacking football and go close to scoring on a number occasions, but seem to come up short time and time again. They end up with one pass too few or drop the ball for no reason, all at the least opportune times. Half-back Luke Walsh and centre Wes Naqaima were both over the try line and it seemed only a formality they would score, but both had the ball knocked from their grasp.
In general play, the Panthers created a lot of second phase with some well-timed offloads, but often the man receiving the ball looks shocked and then confused about what to do next.
Even in their set-play situations, they can get you to the edge of your seat in anticipation as they threaten to break free, but too often it all fizzles out because they are one pass or one support player short of what’s needed.
To the Titans’ credit, their defence held solid against repeated goal-line raids, and great scrambling chases denied the Panthers when they looked certain to score.
The Panthers have similar mental or concentration problems in defence. They can go through great passages of play, dominating with a fast-moving, hard-hitting defensive line. They look to be totally in control and forcing opponents backwards and into errors. The next moment, they will concede the softest of tries out of nowhere.
The first two tries to the Gold Coast yesterday were terrible defensive lapses by the Panthers. They were not the result of great attacking play. Certainly they were too soft for this level of football.
On the positive side, the Panthers have recruited some terrific players who have brought fight and a never-give-up attitude to the team.
James Segeyaro has become a real crowd favourite. Some of his defensive plays in the opening month have been astonishing. The kid has a big motor and a big heart. There is no doubt the Panthers do keep trying and the crowd at Penrith have always cheered for triers. But professional football is about winning. By tomorrow, no one cares or even remembers how the game played out. Only the result is recorded in history.
The things that beat the Panthers last week, and the week before that, beat them again yesterday – and will beat them again next week unless they can find the mental application.
I have written the same thing about the Panthers for many years now. My feeling is that members of this team lack genuine self-belief. Until that changes, results won’t improve.
The Gold Coast beat them yesterday on attitude, not football.
Phil Gould is the general manager of the Penrith Panthers.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.