Rugby League

‘Ridiculous’ loss to Titans frustrating for Cleary, Panthers

It's shape up or ship out time for the Panthers, who are about to start the toughest four-week stretch of the season as frustration about their stagnant start to the year grows.

Penrith's 30-24 loss to the Titans has left them with an unconvincing 2-3 record five weeks into a year which started with very high hopes.

Underwhelming: Nathan Cleary and Penrith are unhappy with their start to the year.Credit:AAP

After defending well but failing to fire in attack in the first month of the season, their defence was a source of "embarrassment" for Josh Mansour upon a review of the Titans tape.

Nathan Cleary used another adjective to describe the way his team fumbled their way through yet another poor performance.

"It’s just ridiculous," Cleary said. "It’s just another reason why [the loss to Gold Coast] was so disappointing.

"Again, it was probably more of an attitude thing. The whole pre-season we have been defending. We know how to do it, we just have to take it out onto the field.

"We go through patches in games which are good but we definitely need to build our consistency and make a change."

Cleary is frustrated and so are the large majority of his teammates.

"The frustrating thing is not having a full, 80-minute performance yet this year," he said. "We have had five rounds and after every game we haven’t been happy with the way we have played.

"The positive there is that we can get a lot better. There is still a long way to go but we have to do it soon. We can’t keep making these excuses.

"We have to make a change now, we have to dig deep and put in an 80-minute performance where both attack and defence is working together."

There is arguably no tougher four week stretch in Penrith's schedule for the remainder of the season.

They face the Sharks in Cronulla on Thursday, host the Rabbitohs at Panthers Stadium on Friday week and travel to Canberra to face the Raiders the following Saturday before taking on the Tigers during the Magic Round in Brisbane.

Cronulla have been hit hard by injuries but have beaten Penrith the last six times the two clubs have met including during last year's semi-finals.

"It doesn’t really matter who we are versing, we just have to turn it around and start playing better footy," Cleary said.

"I think we all know that within the club. Everyone is keen to change the way we have been playing.

"There’s no doubt it will be a tough game. We just have to be prepared to go in there with an attitude to grind out a win. That’s what we will do."

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