The NRL’s top eight won’t be decided until the final round after the Dragons upset Penrith 16-14 in wet and windy conditions at Pepper Stadium this afternoon.
In front of almost 19,000 fans at the foot of the Mountains, the Dragons took the lead through a Tariq Sims try in the 56th minute and then beautifully closed out the game, robbing Penrith of possession.
It forces Penrith into a game of Finals roulette next weekend.
The Panthers can guarantee themselves a spot in the Finals if they beat the Sea Eagles at Lottoland on Saturday night.
But if the Cowboys were to upset Brisbane on Thursday night and Penrith lost to Manly, the Dragons would have a chance to grab eighth spot with victory over Canterbury next Sunday.
It what is an incredibly tight conclusion to the season, the Panthers could finish as high as fifth or as low as ninth.
If all favourites were to win next weekend and Penrith beat Manly, it would most likely set up a clash between the Panthers and Dragons in week one of the Finals.
If all favourites were to win and Manly beat Penrith, the Panthers and Sea Eagles would most likely meet again in week one.
Penrith will have to do it the hard way with dynamite fullback Dylan Edwards likely to miss the round 26 showdown due to a knee injury suffered late in the first half of today’s game.
The Panthers struggled this afternoon against a Dragons side desperate to keep their season alive. Penrith missed a whopping 48 tackles and made 12 errors, inviting the Dragons to dominate possession.
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.