Panthers win completes finals puzzle

There you have it, folks. 

The 190th and final game of the NRL regular season has been completed, with Penrith stealing back their spot in the top four with a disciplined 22-6 victory over the Warriors at Sportingbet Stadium on Sunday night. 

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In front of a loud crowd of 13,551, the home side raced out to a 16-0 lead at halftime before closing the game with an error-free second half that also ended the Warriors' hopes of sneaking into the eighth spot.

Penrith's prize? A week one clash against defending premiers the Roosters. The second-placed Sea Eagles will meet South Sydney in the other qualifying final, while the eliminations finals will be a North Queensland-Brisbane local derby and 2012's Grand Final opponents will meet in a Storm-Bulldogs grudge match at AAMI Park.

In a hotly contested affair that had the entire rugby league community – and particularly Broncos fans – on tenterhooks, Penrith fullback Matt Moylan was again the star, scoring a try and having a hand in the other three. But the second-year pro was a mere frontman for what was a dominant performance from the 2014 surprise packets.

The game started in potential disaster for the Panthers when big man Sam McKendry fluffed a play-the-ball on the first hit-up of the match. 

Unnerved by their unplanned hospitality, the hosts turned the Warriors away and then immediately got back on the front foot when Moylan got into the Warriors' backfield with a 7th minute quick-tap. 

The in-form no. 1 found a supporting Will Smith who was grassed centimetres short of the line, but the retreating defence wasn't quick enough to prevent hooker James Segeyaro posting the game's first points with a trademark power drive from dummy half.

It was fitting that Segeyaro, who was playing his first game back in Panthers colours since the passing away of his father in Papua New Guinea, opened the Father's Day fixture with a try. 

The Warriors thought they had a chance to level the game when left wingman Manu Vatuvei crossed three minutes later, but the video referees ruled wing partner Ngani Laumape had illegally prevented Josh Mansour from taking a Shaun Johnson bomb in the lead-up. 

If Penrith were rattled by their opponent's hitback, then they certainly weren't showing it. Not when Sika Manu got himself held up over the line in the 16th, and definitely not when Moylan put Dallin Watene-Zelezniak over on a simple tackle one shift seconds after.

The Warriors had an opportunity to again get themselves in the game after that, and again they bombed their shot.

Shaun Johnson's fast feet got his team on the outside of Penrith's left edge in the 29th minute, but Ben Henry's pass to Konrad Hurrell went behind him.

And in what was becoming a familiar first half pattern, the Panthers made the top eight hopefuls pay when Moylan sliced through on a second-man play in the 38th minute that set up a daunting 16-0 halftime deficit for the Warriors at the break.

With their backs to the wall and their season on the line, the Warriors came out of the sheds like a side who had everything to play for. 

That's definitely how it looked when Vatuvei, who had crash-dummied himself to a standstill in the first half, picked up a Soward grubber at his bootlaces and legged it 90m to keep his side in the game. 

Finally working themselves into a fair share of possession in the second half, the Warriors continued to press but just couldn't find a way through. 

And when Ben Matulino flung a lazy arm at Lewis Brown in front of his own sticks in the 63rd that put him on report, it gave Soward an easy attempt at goal that stretched the lead back out to 12.

Moylan sealed the win with a grubber for a Watene-Zelezniak try in the 74th.

Penrith Panthers 22 (Watene-Zelezniak 2, Segeyaro, Moylan tries; Soward 3 goals) defeated Warriors 6 (Vatuvei tries; Johnson goals). Halftime: 16-0. Crowd: 13,551.