Wests Tigers fought hard throughout their Round 24 match on Sunday afternoon, however the Panthers proved too strong in the end as the recorded a 30-16 victory at Redcliffe.
Michael Maguire’s men showed plenty of positive signs, including a strong performance from young forward Stefano Utoikamanu, while Jock Madden was impressive in his second NRL match — first as a starter.
Penrith’s triumph means the minor premiership is back up for grabs as Ivan Cleary’s men went level with Melbourne atop the ladder with one round to play.
Although the Storm have a greater points differential, coach Craig Bellamy has hinted at resting players against Cronulla, while the Panthers face Parramatta on Friday night.
South Sydney locked in third position on the ladder with a win over Sydney Roosters on Friday night, while Newcastle will play finals footy in 2021 following their one-point win over Gold Coast, thanks to a Mitchell Pearce field goal.
Manly Warringah will finish in the top four if they can beat North Queensland in the final round after they beat the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon, while the Eels’ hopes of a fourth-placed finish isn’t off the cards following their upset triumph over Melbourne on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, the Sharks and Raiders both recorded wins in Round 24 as they battle for the final position in the top eight.
2021 Match Highlights: Rd.24, Panthers vs. Wests Tigers
ROUND 23 RESULTS
- Newcastle Knights 14 def. Gold Coast Titans 14
- Canberra Raiders 28 def. New Zealand Warriors 16
- South Sydney Rabbitohs 54 def. Sydney Roosters 12
- North Queensland Cowboys 38 def. St George Illawarra Dragons 26
- Cronulla Sharks 24 def. Brisbane Broncos 16
- Parramatta Eels 22 def. Melbourne Storm 10
- Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 36 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18
- Penrith Panthers 30 def. Wests Tigers 16
Leilua Luciano was the only Wests Tigers player charged in Round 24 as he copped a $1,150 fine for a high tackle on Penrith's Liam Martin.
Latrell Mitchell will accept a six-week ban that ends his 2021 season for the reckless high tackle that left former teammate Joey Manu requiring a facial reconstruction.
South Sydney have announced they have accepted early guilty pleas for Mitchell and forward Liam Knight, who will miss two weeks for dangerous contact on Siosiua Taukeiaho.
Storm forward Jesse Bromwich and Eels prop Junior Paulo are among four players facing suspension following a review of Saturday's matches.
Both players will miss just one week with early guilty pleas and be free to play in the first week of the finals.
Brisbane forwards Thomas Flegler and Brendan Piakura are looking at longer bans. Flegler is facing 4-5 weeks for a grade three careless high tackle while Piakura is looking at 2-3 weeks for dangerous contact.
LATEST INJURY NEWS
Wests Tigers forward Alex Seyfarth won’t feature in his side’s final game of the season against the Bulldogs after he suffered a knee injury during the loss against Penrith.
Bulldogs forward Matt Doorey suffered a suspected ACL injury during the first half of his side’s clash with Manly at Redcliffe on Sunday.
Roosters centre Joey Manu underwent facial reconstruction surgery in Brisbane on Saturday after he suffered a depressed fracture of the cheekbone against Souths.
In the same game, Manu's teammate Siosiua Taukeiaho (knee) spent time off the field but came back on late while Ben Thomas failed a head injury assessment.
South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds was forced off with a knee injury after his foot got stuck in the turf but was able to return in the second half.
On Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium the Storm lost winger Josh Addo-Carr to a hamstring injury in the second half of their clash with the Eels and coach Craig Bellamy said he'd be struggling to be fit by the time the finals roll around.
The Eels lost captain Clint Gutherson to a knee injury that is hoped to only be a cork.
Back-rowers Shaun Lane and Marata Niukora both failed HIAs against Melbourne as well and will have to pass concussion protocols to play this weekend.
Raiders duo Joseph Tapine and Bailey Simonsson were forced off in the first half of their side's round 24 clash against the Warriors.
VB Hard Earned Effort: Rd 24 vs Panthers
ROUND 24 FIXTURES
Thursday, September 2
7:50pm — Canberra Raiders vs. Sydney Roosters
Friday, September 3
6:00pm — Cronulla Sharks vs. Melbourne Storm
8:05pm — Parramatta Eels vs. Penrith Panthers
Saturday, September 4
3:00pm — Brisbane Broncos vs. Newcastle Knights
5:30pm — North Queensland Cowboys vs. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
7:35pm — South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. St George Illawarra Dragons
Sunday, September 5
2:00pm — Gold Coast Titans vs. New Zealand Warriors
4:05pm — Wests Tigers vs. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Match: Wests Tigers v Bulldogs
Round 25 -
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe