Gold Coast maintained their strong start to the season as Penrith's inability to find the finishing touch came back to haunt them in a 28-10 loss to the Titans at Centrebet Stadium.
The Titans rolled to their third win from four starts in 2013 as they held off a fast-finishing Panthers, who paid the price for several botched try-scoring opportunities early in the game.
On one such occasion Greg Bird stripped the ball from Luke Walsh as he was falling over the line, the NSW Origin backrower later scoring from a penalty tap ten metres out to cap a powerful game.
The Panthers now have just one win from four starts ahead of a daunting trip to Townsville to face North Queensland, while the Titans warmed-up for an epic home game against big brother Brisbane.
After David Mead gave his side an early 6-0 lead, Walsh looked like he had replied before Bird's intervention, while two minutes later Brad Tighe spilled the ball over the line as he attempted to pick up a rolling ball.
Bird doubled the visitors' advantage when the Panthers defence fell asleep, the Panthers hitting back three minutes after the restart when David Simmons cleverly tapped back a Walsh kick for Wes Naiqama to stroll over.
Another Bird try-save dislodged the ball from Naiqama, and the Titans' fears that the Panthers were coming seemed to get the better of them when veteran prop Luke Bailey appeared to grab the shirt of referee Jason Robinson as he argued for a penalty.
A Steve Michaels four-pointer had the Titans firmly in control at 18-4 before Tom Humble set up an intriguing finish when he showed surprising pace to outrun both Mead and Kevin Gordon for a 70-metre intercept try.
There was no catching Gordon however as he iced the game with two tries in the final five minutes as the Titans consolidated their spot in the NRL top four.
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