Some unexpected Panthers step up as Anthony Griffin's men learn from last week's result to end Manly's season 22-12 in the first elimination final at Allianz Stadium.
Contentious late four-pointer sparks controversy
The 74th minute try to Tyrone Peachey broke the 10-all scoreline with six minutes remaining, but the debate will live on in the northern beaches whether it was a four-pointer at all.
Peachey was adamant he didn't touch the ball during play after Bryce Cartwright went down a blindside and put in a grubber kick, and the referees judged it that way – handing the Panthers their second of the evening.
The NRL Bunker later tweeted there was insufficient evidence to overturn the on-field try ruling.
It mattered for little in the end as a second four-pointer to Cartwright sealed the result, while the Sea Eagles failed to convert three chances late in the game.
Sea Eagles rue second-half no tries
The second half was frustrating for Trent Barrett's men with two disallowed tries costing them a spot to advance to Week Two of the Telstra Premiership finals in the end.
Both no try rulings came off the back of Daly Cherry-Evans kicks, with Walker ruled in front of one in the 49th minute, and Akuila Uate later failing to ground the ball cleanly 10 minutes later.
Brian Kelly also went close at the death but couldn't grasp a Tom Trbojevic pass to all but end the side's hopes as the Panthers stormed home.
Penrith were starved of decent territory throughout the second half, but took their opportunities late in the game – an area they've excelled in throughout the 2017 season.
Penrith muscle up from last week's effort
After Penrith were ambushed last week the Sea Eagles were in a mood to rattle the cages of the Panthers forward pack early again, but this time around there was no repeat effort.
Manly racked up 1919 metres in last week's win but the tide turned seven days later.
While Trent Barrett's men got on the board first, Penrith churned out 1625 metres for the contest – 100 metres more than the opposition despite an even share of possession.
Apart from that, there was nothing statistically that could split the sides other than who could take their opportunities in the pivotal moments.
It is now the 10th time in 17 occurrences a side has lost in the final round of the regular season and then gone on to win against the same opposition in the first week of the finals.
The finals experience will work in the favour of Anthony Griffin's men, who will leave nothing in the tank against the Broncos next week and defensively showed they're capable of grinding out a victory.
No love lost between both sides
Welcome to sudden death finals footy.
Both teams continued where they left off last week with crunching hits and plenty of niggle in the opening half.
Dylan Walker and Tyrone Peachey were at each other all night with Walker striking first with the opening try of the evening, before Peachey had the last laugh in the end.
Sea Eagles prop Darcy Lussick also fired early shots at opposing props James Tamou and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, before Marty Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake continued the intensity throughout the game.
Cartwright and Whare prove the difference
He's been quiet all season but cometh the finals, cometh the man.
It was a long time coming but Bryce Cartwright left the best for finals football with a two-try display and providing the extra point in attack the side has been lacking in recent weeks.
The return of Dean Whare to right centre also proved a much-needed fix with Dylan Edwards' return to fullback an added bonus for Anthony Griffin's men.
Edwards looked ginger early on with a medial injury, but grew confidence as the game progressed and provided a safe as houses display.
After Brian Kelly ran riot down the left edge last week, Whare controlled the 21-year-old for the 80 minutes and stood up in the big moments.