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Cleary shines, Penrith extend NRL streak

·3-min read

Nathan Cleary's magical masterclass made Penrith the first side to start a season with 10 straight wins in 25 years after a 48-12 demolition of Gold Coast.

With Herman Ese'ese sent off and the Titans reduced to 12 men for the second half, Cleary scored hat-trick and finished with 28 points for the match.

The Penrith halfback crossed for the opening two tries of the game and set up three more, before finishing the game by bumping through four Titans to claim his third.

It almost looked at one stage as if the Panthers could have won 70-0 if they hadn't clocked off for the final 25 minutes, perhaps thinking about next Sunday's bumper clash with South Sydney.

And while Ese'ese became the third man to be sent off this weekend when he charged out of the line and collected Brian To'o's head, it made little difference.

In fact, the game was best summed up during a brief period in the first half when the Panthers were down a man thanks to having Moses Leota in the sin-bin.

The Titans looked set to benefit and level the scores when Phillip Sami crossed, only for the try to be denied when Beau Fermor ran through and took out Cleary.

Instead, Cleary kicked for touch, followed through to finish a bust and backed up at first receiver to step his way over the line to make it 12-0.

Moments later Cleary turned the ball back inside for a charging Fisher-Harris to run over Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Tyrone Peachey.

On returning to the field Leota almost immediately finished off a wonderful 90-metre effort after a break from fullback Dylan Edwards.

By then the score was 24-0 and the game was over.

"It would have been nice to jag that try to get us to 6-6," Titans coach Justin Holbrook said.

"(That period) was disappointing, that's for sure. But they sit where they sit for a reason.

"They are extremely good at it."

Cleary also set up tries for Liam Martin and Charlie Staines, with the latter coming from a lovely harbour-bridge ball to get the winger over untouched.

"He was a big part of the reason we won tonight, especially at the start," coach Ivan Cleary said.

"I think that's been the significant improvement for him this year.

"He's got more time to see things and his decision making has been really good."

The result means the Panthers have an aggregate score of 96-12 in the past two rounds, while their start is now the best since Eastern Suburbs in 1996.

The Titans were woeful, as they dropped out of the top eight.

They missed 35 tackles with 70 per cent of the game played on their line, as their points conceded column went to 188 in the past five rounds.

Their two tries came in the last 13 minutes, when Beau Fermor scored their first and then made a break to put AJ Brimson over.