Nathan Cleary produced a masterclass in his comeback game to help Penrith to a 27-8 Qualifying Final win over Parramatta at BlueBet Stadium.
Cleary’s kicking game was superb – just ask Eels winger Waqa Blake – and he had a hand in almost every try as the Panthers booked a Preliminary Final spot.
Brian To’o scored a double while Dylan Edwards and James Fisher-Harris bagged four-pointers in the second half.
Penrith took a 7-6 lead into half-time after Cleary potted a field goal to break a deadlock, something Mitch Moses had failed to do moments earlier.
Like they have done so many times over the last three seasons, Penrith kept their opponents scoreless in the second half, strangling them out of the contest.
Moses left the field under HIA protocols with 20 minutes remaining but the Panthers were already well on top at that stage.
The Eels live to fight another day while Penrith will play Cronulla, Souths or the Roosters in the Preliminary Final at Accor Stadium in two weeks’ time.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.