Home » Panthers edge out Eels in semi-final thriller

Panthers edge out Eels in semi-final thriller

The Penrith Panthers are through to the third week of the finals after edging out the Eels 8-6 in a semi-final thriller in Mackay.

In arguably the game of the year, Penrith survived a 10-minute final onslaught from the Eels to come out victorious and set up a rematch of last year’s grand final with the Storm in a preliminary final next week.

After both sides crossed for a try apiece during the opening 20 minutes, neither team found the line for the remainder of the match.

A 39th-minute penalty goal to superstar halfback Nathan Cleary was ultimately the difference for Penrith.

During the final stages of the match, the Eels had the Panthers on the ropes with a number of attacking opportunities but were unable to find the line.

With less than one minute to go and just 10 metres out, a knock-on from Eels big man Junior Paulo was the dagger for Parramatta, who fell short despite turning in a colossal performance.

“Take your hat off to both teams. Penrith has been so good all year, so many wins,” Parramatta great Peter Sterling said in commentary for Nine.

“They went down last week and they had to dig deep for this one.

“What a game of footy. What a game of footy.

“[Eels coach] Brad Arthur has got to be very proud with their efforts.

“Two tries in this game in the first 16 minutes, both from kicks. That’s how unbelievable both teams were without the football.”

While happy with his side’s performance, Panthers playmaker Jarome Luai admits they will need to improve if they’re to challenge the Storm next week.

“Overwhelmed and lost for words, it was a courageous effort, but happy with the win,” Luai said after the match.

“That is semi-finals football, not many points are going to come, so you have to win the game through defence. We defended a lot and defended well.

“We will have to be better next week.”

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