Titans wary of bit-part Panthers
Still stinging from a 40-0 hiding in Round 2, Titans players insist they won't be underestimating a Panthers outfit decimated by injuries when the two teams clash at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
While the Gold Coast camp is buoyant after posting their highest points total in close to two years, the Panthers have been very much left licking their wounds with confirmation that centre – and former Titan – Jamal Idris has suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Back-rower Elijah Taylor is also in doubt to face the Titans with a knee injury while Dean Whare is not expected to be rushed back from a hamstring strain that kept him out of Penrith's 22-12 win over Manly last weekend.
With primary playmakers Jamie Soward (back) and Peter Wallace (knee) also not expected to make the trip to the Gold Coast the Panthers will have a much different look to them to the team that routed the Titans in Bathurst.
Gold Coast back-rower Lachlan Burr said that the team is conscious of not falling into a false sense of security on Saturday.
"It can be [a danger]," Burr said of expecting to face an inferior Panthers team. "Neil and the coaching staff are really thorough so we'll prepare for a tough game.
"It will be a tough game but with those key players gone they're definitely not going to be at their best.
"They're a very skilful team, they've got a lot of second phase in them, but just on our side of the footy, if we hold onto the ball we can go with any team.
"In that Round 2 game we had a lot of dropped ball, our completions were down and it just wasn't the performance we wanted to put on.
"We didn't play the best and I think they've got a few key players out this week so it should be a good opportunity for us to get a win at home."
The Titans are not without their own injury concerns after fullback Josh Hoffman left the field in the 51st minute of their 38-16 win over Parramatta following a knock to his ankle.
Eddy Pettybourne is also likely to miss the clash with the Panthers due to suspension with hooker Beau Falloon ready to return after two weeks on the sidelines.
Not since Round 11, 2013 had the Titans scored as many points as they did against the Eels, a try to David Taylor in the ninth minute helping to break the shackles according to the man who laid on the pass for the game's opening try, five-eighth Aidan Sezer.
"It does help when you score the first points, especially in the fashion that the big fella did it. It was good to get on the board nice and early and I thought that set the tone for the match," said Sezer.
"We haven't scored that many points the last couple of years so it was good to be clinical and being positive with our footy.
"We've been close in recent weeks but we haven't found that killer punch. I thought on the weekend we were very clinical within our play and everyone knew their role well and we executed the game-plan pretty well I thought."
Sezer conceded that the drubbing dished out by Penrith in Round 2 still stings the Titans players who have been competitive in every other game this season and that Saturday represents a great opportunity to make amends.
"It will be big for us to turn it around and put in a good performance against them," said Sezer, who was credited with two try assists against Parramatta.
"They put 40 on us in Bathurst and I think they've got a few players out. If we can come out and perform like we did last week it will put ourselves in a good situation to win the game."