Penrith’s 48-12 thrashing of Gold Coast was fitting in Magic Round.
It was equally ruthless and brilliant, merciless and thrilling. The result was sealed but you couldn’t look away. It was magic.
Nathan Cleary starred, finishing with three tries, two try assists, four linebreaks, and 173 metres gained. He was so in control he could’ve been likened to a puppeteer, but Penrith’s brilliance wasn’t scripted, it was instinctive yet in sync.
Dally M favourite Cleary opened what would be a big night of scoring in the 11th minute, dodging his way through the Titans’ defence.
A lazy high-shot from Moses Leota saw the Panthers reduced to 12-men for 10-minutes, but instead of reverting to survival mode, the juggernaut that is Penrith took their attack up a notch.
They hounded the Gold Coast line and put on two tries in Leota’s absence. Unheard of stuff.
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Cleary had a big say in the unlikely purple patch, playing the ball and staying alive to score his second, before handing off to James Fisher-Harris who bulldozed his way over, making it 18-0 by the 20-minute mark.
The sin-binning proved to be a blessing in disguise for Leota, who used his fresh legs to barge over the line on the back of an adventurous Dylan Edwards run.
Already feeling the full force of a Panthers onslaught, Gold Coast’s night didn’t get any easier as a careless Herman Ese’ese shot sparked tensions and saw him sent-off.
Angus Crichton put the exclamation mark on emphatic Penrith half, drawing in all three defenders before executing a pin-point flick pass for the isolated Charlie Staines to finish off.
Another brilliant assist saw Staines cross for his double, this time a jaw-dropping floater that left the hands of Cleary.
Liam Martin strolled over untouched to make it 42-0, with a serious blowout beckoning.
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The Titans rallied late to restore some dignity however.
Beau Fermor brushed off star of the show Cleary for a try, before assisting AJ Brimson in an end-to-end try that saw the fullback run the length of the field.
The night came full circle, ending how it began with Cleary scoring, this time scrapping and weaving his way over the stripe.
The 48-12 annihilation sees Penrith move to 10-0 as their confidence remains sky-high.