Four tries from Wilson De Courcey helped the Panthers Harold Matthews side secure a see-sawing 32- 22 victory against Illawarra Steelers at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday.
The Steelers put up a strong fight, scoring late in the second half to take the lead but ultimately the Panthers proved too strong.
The Panthers dominated the game early with Hunt Leavai producing a strip off the kick off, giving his team a full set of six within 20 metres of the line.
Penrith centre De Courcey made use of the attacking opportunity, weaving his way through the Steelers line to open the scoring in the third minute.
With the conversion waved away for five-eighth Jett Cleary, the Panthers were quick to extend their lead following the restart.
In the seventh minute, Panthers captain Jenson Tuaoi scooped the ball up from dummy half and drew in the Steelers defence, before flicking a pass to prop forward Judah Galuvao who put the ball down beside the posts.
Cleary added the extras to take the Panthers lead to ten points.
De Courcey did it all himself for the next try in the 20th minute, chipping the ball above the Steelers defensive line, regaining possession and diving over the line.
Cleary was off target with the attempted conversion.
Minutes later De Courcey received a perfectly placed ball in open space to score a first-half hat-trick, with Cleary adding the extras to give the Panthers a 20-point advantage.
Off the back of a Panthers line drop-out, the Steelers mustered together an attack to create a scoring opportunity.
Illawarra half-back Daniel Brady kicked into the corner on the fifth tackle to find Samson McAllister-Wood in the air, who placed the ball down on the line.
Captain Clay Baldock produced a near-perfect kick from the sideline to reduce the deficit to 14 with three minutes left of the opening half.
Steelers centre James Walsh scrambled through the Panthers line to gain possession of a loose ball in the final minute, running away untouched to score on the siren.
Baldock’s conversion sailed through the sticks and the Steelers with just an eight-point deficit.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 20 - STEELERS 12
Steelers hooker Seth Pearman opened the scoring in the second half, crashing over a number of Panthers to ground the ball under the posts.
Baldock’s conversion brought the Steelers within two points and mounting pressure on the home side.
Providing the spark again for the Steelers, Brady connected with Walsh who found a gap in the Panthers line to claim a double, putting the visitors ahead for the first time with Baldock’s conversion falling slightly to the left.
With four minutes to go, a motivated De Courcey charged at the line, fending off the Steelers defence to regain the advantage. Cleary honoured his teammates efforts, slotting the conversion to take the score to 26-22.
Tuaoi added an extra four points for the Panthers in the final minute, with Cleary kicking the conversion on the siren to seal the win for the home side.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 32 - STEELERS 22