The Penrith Panthers have confirmed their place in the 2021 NRL Grand Final after outlasting the Melbourne Storm 10-6 in an absorbing clash on Saturday afternoon.
Scoring tries in the opening minutes of both halves while limiting their opponents to a single four-pointer for the first time this season, Penrith defended resolutely before a vocal crowd in excess of 29,000 at Suncorp Stadium.
The win sees Penrith gain a shot at redemption against South Sydney twelve months on from the disappointment of falling short in the final match of last season.
Having led the league in points scored this season, the Storm struggled to play on their terms and were guilty of committing 16 errors in a performance rarely sighted from a Craig Bellamy coached side.
Wasting little time in posting the only points of the first half, Penrith captain Nathan Cleary pulled off an audacious kick from dummy half which allowed Stephen Crichton (3rd minute) to touch down untouched.
Losing representative front-rower Christian Welch to a HIA early in proceedings, the Storm's woes were compounded further when Brandon Smith was ruled out minutes after becoming the first player to execute a 20/40 in first grade.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona appeared to lock up the scoreboard midway through the first half only for the bunker to deem Scott Sorenson had been impeded by Dale Finucane in the lead up.
Both sides had opportunities to post points in the final moments of the opening half, however desperate defence saw the score remain 6-0 in the Panthers' favour at the change of ends.
Coming out for the second half determined to gain another shot at the premiership, returning winger Brian To'o (42nd minute) touched down after an error from Justin Olam invited the Panthers into the Storm's half.
In an absorbing second half which saw both sides trade sets at a fierce intensity, Ryan Papenhuyzen (63rd minute) got a result from a Cameron Munster kick aimed at the in-goal to narrow the score to 10-6.
Repelling several attacking raids from the Storm during the closing stages, the Panthers managed to hold on despite a number of nervous moments as the clock counted down to fulltime.
In a moment of concern for the victors, Nathan Cleary was placed on report for a lifting tackle on Kenny Bromwich midway through the first half which could see the Penrith playmaker come under scrutiny from the match review committee in the coming days.