Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said the match winning try by Broncos prop Payne Haas “summed up the game” for his side in the 24-12 loss to Brisbane where they missed 50 tackles all-up.
Four of those missed tackles were chalked up in the Haas try alone.
Penrith beat the Sharks last week but still missed 65 tackles in their 26-20 win.
With three rounds to go the Broncos loss leaves the Panthers in eighth spot with 22 points. The Sharks will move into the eight if they can beat the Dragons on Sunday.
If Penrith are to make the finals they must address their defensive deficiencies.
“We were just missing tackles. They have a lot of powerful, tackle-breakers in their team and that is going to happen. A lot of them were early in the game when they were fresh but there were some crucial ones that led to tries as well,” Cleary said.
“We have a lot of work to do defensively in that area. Some team stuff and system stuff has definitely gotten better I feel this year but you can’t be conceding points as easily as we did in the second half.”
The Panthers trailed just 8-6 at half-time after Nathan Cleary scored on the cusp of the break and the coach was confident his side could go on with it. They didn’t, mainly because they were unable to build any pressure for extended periods.
“It just wasn’t good enough,” Cleary said.
“I thought the first seven minutes of the first half were good. The last seven were good and the rest was poor.
"We couldn’t hold the ball and when we took a one man advantage [when Jake Turpin was sin-binned] we lost our heads a bit.
“Keeping them to one try was a pretty good effort in that first half and I thought the last five minutes was the template for how we wanted to play the rest of the game. The second half, there were some poor areas at the wrong time.”
Given what was on the line, Cleary was asked whether he was disappointed in the way his side played in the opening stanza overall where they had early opportunities but coughed up the ball.
“In many ways the first half was immature and I think we have got an immature team so it is not completely surprising, especially away from home,” Cleary said.
“We started really well and could have put them under all sorts of pressure but we shot ourselves in the foot. We’ve got a lot of young guys and we have to learn the hard way. We will.
“We’ve got to dust ourselves off and go up to Townsville next week and put on a good display and get the points, and we will see how we sit. A lot is going to happen in the next three weeks but all we can control is our own performance.”