The Panthers’ 24-10 victory over the Tigers has thurst them into the NRL finals mix, but coach Matthew Elliott has done his best to hose down the hype – suggesting the Panthers have a hard road ahead towards the NRL finals.

Penrith have the toughest run of any other team heading into the Top 8, meeting NRL leaders Manly on 2 occasions and benchmark NRL team Melbourne once.

Elliott knows that a loss against the Tigers could have signaled the end of the Panthers’ season.

“It was a really important win for us for a lot of reasons, obviously the two points for where we are on the competition table are vital for sure,” Elliott said after the match.

“But to come from behind at halftime and not to play our most cohesive footy, but still be reasonably comfortable in what we did, was fairly encouraging.”

Elliott admitted the confidence of his younger brigade of Iosefa, Coote and Wade Graham was starting to rub off on the rest of the team.

“Can you still believe Wade is at school?” Elliott said.

“The young kids that we’ve got, I think it’s a testimony to their maturity but also the fact they can come in and play alongside Petero and Luke Priddis and be made to feel part of the team straight away.”

Tigers coach Tim Sheens said the loss had left his side in a large hole, now two competition points shy of the top eight.

“It’s certainly a nail in the coffin, I wouldn’t say we’re sealed in yet but we’re going under, we just couldn’t afford to lose that game really,” he said.

“It just put a lot of pressure on us for the remaining game.

“We won’t right ourselves off, but it was a game there to be won.”

The Tigers boast a considerably easier run home than the Panthers, facing just one of the top four teams (Sharks) in the remaining rounds.

By ricky

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