Hard to believe a team will be out of finals reckoning after five rounds but that's essentially where the Titans are at after starting the season with four straight losses.
Last week they were confident of claiming their first win for 2019 against a team that had conceded 80 points in their previous two games.
But they fell asleep at crucial moments and the Warriors rolled to a 26-10 win, leaving the Titans with a measly 36 points from four games.
Coach Garth Brennan is extremely concerned with his team's inability to fire, using words like "frustration", "panicking" and "not mentally tough enough" after the loss.
The Panthers pulled off a great escape with Nathan Cleary's late-game heroics against the Tigers but the reality is they were lucky to win and still haven't been all that impressive in four games.
Titans: Jack Stockwell and Phillip Sami were the two players dropped from the squad an hour out from kick-off. Tyrone Roberts' Achilles pulled up well after Thursday's captain's run and he looks to be a certain starter but prop Shannon Boyd is out after pulling up with hamstring soreness. Jai Whitbread comes onto the bench. Ryley Jacks was omitted 24 hours before kick-off.
Panthers: Josh Mansour will play, meaning Malakai Watene-Zelezniak joins Tim Grant as the two players omitted an hour before game time. Wayde Egan didn't train all week under concussion protocol and was omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. Egan's spot on the bench has been taken by Jarome Luai. The other player omitted on Thursday was Liam Martin. Penrith have won their past four games against the Titans.
He hasn't been bad but he hasn't been too good either, so maybe a clash with his former team will get Titans centre Tyrone Peachey in the mood to play the kind of football that earned him a spot on the NSW Origin bench last year. Another former Panther, Bryce Cartwright, will also be keen for a big game against Viliame Kikau.
For the Titans to win
Maybe they need a sports psychologist to get them in the right mindset, but we're now up to round five and the Titans still don't know what it feels like to start a game well. Scoring the first try of the match won't guarantee victory but it will ease the pressure of constantly playing catch-up.
For the Panthers to win
Not only were they less than two minutes from a third loss in four games, the Panthers were about to be kept try-less for the second time in as many matches before Nathan Cleary saved the day. This team looks nothing like a premiership contender at the moment and perhaps coach Ivan Cleary needs to come up with some offensive variation.
Brett Kimmorley says
It’s time for the Panthers to show some consistency and a little bit of form. (Viliame) Kikau was back last week and that’ll really help their left edge in attack. I certainly get the impression Brad Fittler would like his NSW halves to stand up. As for the Titans, they are finding ways to lose. They’ve got some big defensive deficiencies. Panthers by 12
Titans Stat Attack
The Titans' 69% completion rate was in stark contrast to the Warriors' impressive 91% (30/33) in last Friday's 26-10 loss in Auckland. Their 14 errors almost tripled that of the Warriors (5). Mitch Rein made the most tackles (46) and Jarrod Wallace the most metres (149).
Panthers Stat Attack
They hung tough and made their own luck in the end, but the Panthers were lucky to get out of jail last week against the Tigers, completing just 60% (25/42), missing 30 tackles and committing 16 errors. The Titans are due to win so the Panthers can't afford a repeat performance.
And another thing ...
Judging by the numbers, this clash brings together two of the competition's worst attacking teams. The Titans are averaging a league-low nine points per game, while the Panthers are only slightly better at 9.5 points. It'll be interesting to see if either team reaches double figures on Friday.