Panthers coach Ivan Cleary expected Wests Tigers to employ niggling tactics in his side's 30-6 win and reckons others may follow suit in a bid to disrupt them.
The ladder leaders rolled on to a club-record 11th consecutive victory at home despite the Tigers being revved up on Saturday night.
Tempers flared at times following a fiery round eight showdown that ended with Cleary cheekily blowing kisses to his ex-club's fans.
Joey Leilua, who copped a four-week ban for a high shot on Penrith’s Dylan Edwards last time, again zeroed in on the fullback with a borderline shoulder charge in the first half. No penalty came of it.
Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary and Tigers co-captain Moses Mbye were also involved in a scuffle that stoked up the 3699-strong crowd.
"We expected that. It was there in the last game. You've got to expect that," Ivan Cleary said in his media conference.
Match: Panthers v Wests Tigers
Round 16 -
Venue: BlueBet Stadium, Penrith
"Teams are looking at us and trying to find ways to beat us. That's OK ... [Nathan] gets his share of attention. He's a playmaker so he's going to get some attention."
Centre Stephen Crichton added: "Coach spoke about them coming out, they were saying that this is their grand final. We just had to match their intensity and stay at it and don't be part of their grudge."
Even with Penrith missing stars Viliame Kikau (suspended) and Api Koroisau (injured), and the Tigers bolstered by hooker Harry Grant's return, the script was thrown out to begin with.
Bit of Marshall magic gets us started
Penrith have been the NRL's best starters, going 14 games without conceding a point in the opening 20 minutes, but the Tigers snapped that streak and then flexed their defensive muscles.
Tigers No.7 Benji Marshall dinked a third-tackle kick over Josh Mansour's head for winger David Nofoaluma to collect on the bounce and score in the eighth minute.
"It was probably good to get scored on at the start so we could, not just get the monkey off our back, but do it a little bit differently," Cleary said.
"We've scored first for so long that it was just good to be put under a bit of pressure and see how we'd respond.
"Our attack wasn't rolling as good as it probably could but we had a few changes so I guess that had something to do with it. We stuck at it."
Cleary lauded five-eighth Jarome Luai, who had a try assist and a try, as well as Tyrone May, who played second-row in Kikau's absence.
Luai dances off the left
"He's such a unique player, T-May. He's played something like five different positions and he hasn't played in his preferred one," he said.
Luai bounced off his left foot and withstood a tackle from Grant and Matt Eisenhuth to tie the scores in the 29th minute.
Edge forward Liam Martin bagged his second try in two weeks off a neat Cleary short ball in the 36th minute, but the Tigers could perhaps have counted themselves unlucky as Penrith advanced into striking range from an arguable high tackle penalty against Marshall.
Cleary and Martin combine to get Penrith into lead
Two negative Doueihi plays allowed Penrith to claim a 14-8 half-time lead after a penalty goal.
In the shadows of the break, the custodian threw a wayward pass coming out of danger that was swooped on by the Panthers and he was then sin-binned for a professional foul.
Granted, Doueihi may have stopped a try and there was no damage done during his stint off the park with the Tigers holding firm. He was moved to centre upon returning with Mbye at fullback, later switching back.
To'o gets straight back into try scoring form
The Panthers didn't need an extra man to score. Winger Brian To'o, playing his first match since hurting his ankle in the first meeting with the Tigers, showed he hadn't forgotten how to finish by beating two to touch down. He also totalled more than 200 metres for the match.
The result was sealed when Crichton was awarded a penalty try – his 14th of the season, joining Nofoaluma and South Sydney's Alex Johnston atop the league – after Leilua impeded him as he chased a grubber. Mansour crossed just before the final hooter to blow out the margin.
Penrith's only concern was a head knock to Isaah Yeo that sidelined him after 48 minutes, however Cleary said he passed a HIA.
Cleary expects hooker Koroisau to return from a calf injury against Brisbane next round.
Bunker awards penalty try to Crichton