Panthers brush aside second string Eels

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Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers

Penrith Panthers finished their regular season in style with a 40 points to six success against Parramatta Eels tonight at Robina. 

They missed out on the Minor Premiership but Penrith Panthers warmed up for the finals with a 34-point win against an understrength Parramatta Eels team highlighted by a fabulous hat-trick from winger Brian To'o. 

Both sides knew tonight was a game that didn't matter much in the grand scheme of things. Eels were locked into a spot in fifth or sixth while the Panthers couldn't catch the Storm for the Minor Premiership after earlier results. Eels battled hard for an hour but the Panthers extra class shone through to reflect the final margin. 

Back from injury the last fortnight, Brian To'o is a huge weapon for the Panthers side. He showed off his skills tonight scoring a hat-trick which included two simple finishes from a superb scrum play before he linked with the lethal left side to touch down late to complete the feat. 

The first half was a tight tussle which saw the Panthers take a 12-6 lead into the break against a spirited Eels line-up. Tries to To'o and Tevita Pangai Junior for the Panthers while Eels centre Tom Opacic was the only try scorer for the blue and gold in the game tonight. 

Knowing that the bigger challenges are yet to come. Tonight was a good warm up for the Panthers. They will face an attacking powerhouse in the Rabbitohs next weekend and tonight the spine hummed into action - both Nathan Cleary and Apisai Koroisau found the stripe - in a one-sided second half. 

Matt Burton might be an x-factor for the Panthers on that left edge. He showed superb speed to score his four-pointer and linked well with To'o and Villiame Kikau for the winger to wrap up the hat-trick. He has filled in plenty in the halves but gives the Panthers some extra bite headed into the finals series. 

For the Eels, tonight was a throwaway. They made mass changes to the side and knew it wouldn't affect their standing. Much of their salary cap sat in the stands but they looked refreshed as they are locked in to face Newcastle Knights next weekend in an elimination final. 

One lowlight for the Panthers is the injury to interchange forward Scott Sorensen. He might miss the remainder of the season but Ivan Cleary has plenty of options for his bench make up to get the Panthers to back-to-back Grand Finals. 

Parramatta Eels 6 - Penrith Panthers 40

Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Crowd: 8580
Halftime Score: Parramatta Eels 6 Penrith Panthers 12

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Nathan Cleary
2 points - Brian To'o
1 points - Matt Burton

PARRAMATTA EELS (6)
Tries: Tom Opacic
Conversions: Blake Ferguson (1/1)

PENRITH PANTHERS (40)
Tries: Brian To'o (3), Nathan Cleary, Tevita Pangai Junior, Matt Burton, Apisai Koroisau
Conversions: Nathan Cleary (6/7)


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