A suspected broken cheekbone to Penrith winger Josh Mansour soured an otherwise second half masterclass from James Maloney as the Panthers put the Gold Coast Titans to the sword with a comfortable 35-12 victory at Panthers Stadium on Sunday.
Mansour left the field just after half-time after copping an accidental knee from Anthony Don in the air. He was taken to hospital for X-rays on the left cheek.
"It looks like a cheekbone fracture. He’s up at the hospital now but the doctor thought it was a probable cheekbone fracture," said coach Anthony Griffin.
Otherwise it was a dominating performance from the Panthers with Maloney and Tyrone Peachey combining after the break to pile on two quick tries.
Griffin's men struggled with the ball in the opening half despite a weight of possession but clicked into gear to blow away a Titans outfit, who had injury concerns of their own.
A double to Corey Harawira-Naera cancelled out any threat of a Titans comeback despite debutant Kaide Ellis being sent to the sin bin late in the game for repeated ruck infringements.
Match: Panthers v Titans
Round 6 -
Venue: Panthers Stadium, Penrith
It was an unhappy return to Penrith for former lower grades coach Garth Brennan with former junior Bryce Cartwright sent to the sin bin in the 49th minute much to the delight of 11,091 fans at the foot of the mountains.
The Titans lost Nathan Peats in the first half with a rib injury, while Dale Copley left the field late in the game with a hamstring concern.
In-form Titans lock Jai Arrow, who scored two tries last weekend, also failed to return from a cork injury.
Penrith made a positional switch to start the game with Harawira-Naera shifting to right centre despite naming Isaah Yeo in the role earlier in the week.
The move proved costly in the sixth minute with Copley getting on the outside of the forward-turned outside back to carry three defenders and score first for the visitors.
But that was where it ended for the Titans, with Harawira-Naera charging over for his first off a backline movement and proving more than capable in the centre position with Waqa Blake seven weeks away from a return.
Head knocks to Ash Taylor and Mitch Rein halted the Titans defensive line before half-time with the Panthers taking advantage with Yeo keeping the ball alive for a side-stepping James Tamou to charge over for the home side's second.
The game was iced when Christian Crichton dived over in acrobatic fashion late in the game for his first try at the top level, and a late field goal to Maloney.
The Titans lost interchange prop Morgan Boyle before kick-off after a nasty head clash with Cartwright in the warm up.
With Mansour likely to miss games, Griffin gave hope of an early return for winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (jaw).
"He was due back in a couple of weeks time, we’ll see the doctors this week. He’s not far away so as long as it’s not going to put him under long-term risk we’ll look at getting him back a week early," the coach said.