Gold Coast have relinquished their spot at the top of the NRL ladder, going down 14-12 to a dogged Penrith.
Giant centre Jamal Idris had his best game for the Panthers against his old club, after leaving the Titans in January, and along with halfback Peter Wallace ensured the home side dominated the majority of what was a gripping Easter Monday encounter.
Two Jamie Soward kicks left to chance by the Titans that resulted in 30th- and 50th-minute tries were the difference in a contest in which both sides also lacked polish.
Meanwhile, Titans forward Matt White is in the cross hairs of match review officials amid the NRL’s new edict on lifting tackles after being placed on report for a dangerous throw on Adam Docker in the 61st minute.
The Titans now have five wins after seven rounds along with Canterbury, Wests Tigers and Manly but their negative for and against drops them to fourth place.
Dean Whare drew first blood for the Panthers in the seventh minute when they went wide 20m out after a Wallace bust.
The pacy Kiwi centre simply sliced through the Titans’ line, and Soward converted for a 6-0 lead.
Penrith’s second try came when Titans fullback David Mead and forward Paul Carter failed to diffuse the first of Soward’s telling kicks, allowing Matt Moylan to touch down.
Ryan James crashed over for a converted Titans try three minutes before halftime for a 12-6 scoreline at the break.
A Soward penalty put the Panthers two points further ahead in the 51st minute.
The Gold Coast were never out of the contest, though, and an Aidan Sezer try from a close-range Albert Kelly grubber in the 78th minute and the halfback’s conversion brought the score to 14-12.
The Titans had a chance to win it in the dying seconds but Kelly put his cross kick over the dead ball line on the full.
Titans forward Greg Bird might also have a case to answer after Wallace accused him of a “squirrel grip” on Sika Manu late in the game.
“He grabbed him on the nuts,” Wallace protested to referee Gavin Morris.
Penrith struggled to put the Titans away in the second half and coach Ivan Cleary said he was pleased to get the two premiership points.
“It was a pretty dour win, we made it hard for ourselves in the end,” he said.
“I’m just happy to get the win, really.
“We could have played a bit smarter, we kept giving them opportunities.
“If we keep doing that it is going to be a long year.”
Titans coach John Cartwright bemoaned the fact he was finally on the wrong end of another tight scoreline.
“It was similar to the last few games we have had,” he said.
“I thought we did really well after it went to 8-0, they could have gone on with it.
“We stuck to the job and at the death we could have come away with it.”