The Penrith Panthers have confirmed their spot in the NRL top eight and will play Finals football for just the third time in the last decade.
The Panthers had all but assured their spot in the post-season but put any doubts to rest with a thrilling 15-14 win over the Gold Coast earlier tonight.
Captain Matt Moylan was the hero, kicking a field goal in the dying minutes to secure the heart stopping victory.
Penrith’s final finishing spot in the top eight is yet to be determined but it’s likely the side will play either Brisbane or Canterbury in week one of the Finals.
The achievement of making the Finals is even more remarkable considering Penrith went through significant challenges throughout the year including moving on senior players Jamie Soward, Elijah Taylor and James Segeyaro.
Anthony Griffin becomes just the second Penrith coach in history to take the side to the Finals in his first season at the club, the other being Phil Gould in 1990.
The Panthers have made the Finals on the back of a tremendous group of young talent including Bryce Cartwright, Nathan Cleary and Tyrone Peachey, who has been outstanding in recent weeks.
The Panthers have won six of their last seven matches, including the last four in a row.
Officials will be hoping a big crowd will be at Pepper Stadium for the club’s final game of the regular season next Sunday at 6.30pm against Manly.
It wasn’t all good news for the Panthers tonight though, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard taken to hospital with a back injury. Initial fears are that he’ll miss the rest of the season.
Coach Griffin said he’s proud of the way his side has finished the season.
“They’re a great bunch of guys and they’re working really hard,” he said.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.