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Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary

Penrith will go into Thursday night's clash against Cronulla with 67 reasons to turn their early-season form around after delivering the good, bad and ugly in the opening five rounds.

The Panthers' defensive efforts were their focal point in the first month of the competition despite struggling in attack, but last week's loss to the Titans was anything but competitive with the highest team missed tackle count of the season.

The signs were better in attack with four tries scored but it counted for little in the end with 67 missed tackles allowing the previously winless Titans to score five tries and break their duck.

"It was ridiculous," Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary said on Monday.

"It's probably an attitude thing. There's a lot of disappointment after the weekend. Especially after a tough win against the Tigers that was based on defence.

Every try from Round 5

"To come out and dish up what we did defensively was disappointing and went against what we've done in the whole pre-season.

"That was the main problem out of that game. We've got to be ready to make a change and get some consistency in our game."

If not for the Cleary-inspired great escape against Wests Tigers and the two-point win over Newcastle thanks to a James Maloney trysaver late, the Panthers would find themselves in even more strife.

Sitting 2-3 and leaking too many points for their liking, the Panthers could be forgiven for having visions of 2017 when they won just two of their first nine before winning 11 of their next 13 games to scrape into seventh position.

The Panthers have won just one of their last 10 clashes against this weekend's opponents Cronulla. They then face South Sydney and Canberra in the ensuing two matches. 

"I don't think it matters who we're playing, we have to turn it around. We all know that in the club and everyone's keen to change the way we're playing," Cleary said.

"Even after wins it's frustrating because we're not playing the footy we can. We go through patches of our game where we're good but just need to build that consistency."

Penrith looked more comfortable in attack on a dryer track, while the return of Viliame Kikau in his second game on the left edge and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to fullback created more opportunities.

"The attack is building, I thought even though we only scored one try against the Tigers it built in that game," Cleary said.

"I think there's a long way to go in that aspect as well. Our attack will get better if our defence does, it's just about putting both things together."

Cleary said Origin selection remained the furthest thing from his mind as he continues to work on his combination alongside James Maloney.

"We're disappointed we're not winning enough games but I don't think it comes down to mine or Jimmy's combination," he said.

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