Panthers v Titans: Five key points
The Panthers hit the lead on four separate occasions and it still wasn't enough for them to beat the Gold Coast on Sunday afternoon. The Titans' 28-24 victory came in the dying minutes through an Anthony Don try – the only instance where they were in the lead.
Ashley Taylor stands up and delivers
The Titans wouldn't have come close to secure their last-gasp win if not for Ashley Taylor, who continues his development as a first-class NRL playmaker.
Titans coach Neil Henry said after the game Taylor "had to take command out there" and that's exactly what he did in their four-point win.
Taylor's late try was important but it was his line break following a Tyrone Peachey brain snap that proved crucial in setting up the match-winning four-pointer.
Even more impressive was the fact his halves partner Tyrone Roberts hardly featured in the second half after suffering a corked quad.
Prospective Penrith Blues kept quiet
Five Panthers have been in the State of Origin discussion for many weeks, though their performances against the Titans wouldn't have helped their cause.
Peachey, Trent Merrin and Bryce Cartwright provided uneventful performances – the latter again exposed defensively with five missed tackles – while winger Josh Mansour tried hard and grabbed a try despite being a victim of his side's overall performance.
Penrith skipper Matt Moylan was perhaps the pick of the bunch with two try assists but was left to lament a crucial error under the high ball which allowed for Taylor's try soon after.
'Four-point win' goes Titans' way
As we approach the Origin period, the clichéd "four point win" adage emerges again.
The Titans and Panthers were both last-start winners prior to Sunday's game and both have the bye in Round 12 – meaning a victory in this one was important in the grand scheme of the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder.
The Gold Coast's win was lauded by Henry in the aftermath, who said the bye had come at a good time for his side.
"On the back of last week (a 20-point win over the Roosters) our win here was more important in the context of the table and where we are in terms of losing a few tight games so there's a bit of belief in the boys," Henry said.
"A lot of belief in fact and I think everyone is just doing their job. We could've dropped our heads with a couple of errors early in the piece but they couldn't put us away."
Nathan Peats makes Titans debut
A "solid" 58-minute stint off the bench was enough to impress Henry following Nathan Peats' first game in Titans colours.
The former Eel's arrival at the club came in unusual circumstances given the salary cap dramas at Parramatta but Henry said his newest recruit's hard work paid off on the field.
Peats scored a crucial try midway through the second half and backed it up with 42 tackles – a good sign considering he had only managed just two first-grade training sessions on the Gold Coast following a stint with the Titans' Intrust Super Cup feeder club Tweed Heads.
"Nathan Peats came on at lock which showed why he's valuable as a utility. I thought he was solid," Henry said. "Nathan only had a couple of sessions with the boys but he worked hard in the middle."
Grave fears for Peta Hiku's season
Peta Hiku's season appears over if the Panthers' early prognosis proves accurate.
Hiku was stretchered off with a suspected ACL injury just three minutes after half-time. He'll be joined on the sidelines by James Fisher-Harris (thumb) whose game ended after 20 minutes.
Hiku is the second high-profile Penrith centre after Dean Whare to have suffered a season-ending knee injury this year. The club will most likely look to Waqa Blake or Isaah Yeo to fill the New Zealand international's void.
"Peta unfortunately looks to have suffered an ACL injury. We still have to get that confirmed but everyone saw what happened there," Griffin said.
"We hope for the best but it's not looking good. We have to hope that it's not as bad as what the doctors and physios first thoughts were."