Penrith have kept themselves in the Minor Premiership race after a 30-16 defeat of Wests Tigers in Redcliffe.
Despite making a mountain of errors, the Panthers never really looked troubled on their way to their 20th win of the season.
The Minor Premiership will be decided on Friday night. If Cronulla beat Melbourne in the 6pm game, the Panthers will play for the Shield against Parramatta in the late match. If the Storm win, they finish the regular season on top.
But the Panthers have their eyes on a much bigger prize and while today’s performance was far from perfect, it was a solid warm-up for the Finals in a fortnight.
Captain Nathan Cleary had an uncharacteristic performance with a number of errors next to his name, but he still managed to score his 1000th career point – the second youngest player in history to achieve the feat.
Penrith led 12-6 at half-time but looked totally dominant in the second stanza, with the Tigers only troubling the scoreboard attendant late in the match.
Tevita Pangai Jnr scored his first try in Penrith colours, barging over in the first half.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said it was far from a clinical performance.
“I thought we created chances everywhere but we dropped the ball 17 times today… if you make 17 errors you’re not going to beat a top eight side,” he said.
“It was just one of those days. We had guys dropping the ball that normally wouldn’t. It just became contagious.”
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.