His team was left battered, bruised, broken and beat, but Panthers coach Matthew Elliott praised each and every one of his players in Saturday’s semi-final.

The Panthers season was ended by a rampant Roosters outfit, who stormed into next week’s preliminary final against the Gold Coast Titans in Brisbane after their comfortable 34-12 win at the SFS.

The Panthers who commenced last night’s game minus forwards Trent Waterhouse (torn pectoral muscle) and and Frank Pritchard (hamstring), lost star centre Michael Jennings within the first 10 minutes of the game due to an ankle injury.

They were also forced to do without inspiration second-rower Luke Lewis who sustained a heavy concussion in the first half, and was forced off the field for 30 minutes.

Things only went from bad to worse when back-rower Gavin Cooper in his final game for the Penrith Panthers before joining the North Queensland Cowboys, hobbled off with a corked quad just before half time.

Coach Matthew Elliott who was disappointed with the loss praised the Roosters side, but he was full of admiration for his side and their never-say-die attitude despite a mounting injury toll.

“I am really proud of the players’ effort, we fell down in a few areas … and our continuity was compromised coming into the game and then completely knocked out of whack when Jenko (Jennings) went off,” Elliott said.

“We had a side that if we had everyone available we would certainly have been strong, and I think we showed pretty early on a determination that would have made us a handful.

“But when you lose your two key strike players so early in the game it is always going to be difficult.

“Then we lost a backrower … it was not ideal.”

Penrith skipper Petero Civoniceva re-iterated his coach’s strong words for the Penrith players, and said that the team has come a long way since finishing second on the ladder in what was their first finals appearance since 2004.

“I am immensely proud of our boys … for the whole season and it is disappointing to go out,” he said.

“But the progression of our group and the emergence of some of our young players, as a senior player is great to see.

“We kept turning up … the easy thing to do is turn your heels up, but all season, regardless of adversity they keep turning up and you can’t ask any more.”

By ricky

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