James Segeyaro kept Penrith's minor premiership push alive as St George Illawarra's faint finals hopes all but ended as the injury-riddled Panthers ground to another improbable win at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
Still given little hope of hoisting silverware on the first Sunday in October, the Panthers continue to defy their critics despite a bulging casualty ward.
This time it was lively hooker Segeyaro's time to shine, scoring once and putting another on a platter for Adam Docker as Ivan Cleary's men suffocated the life out of a frustrated Dragons outfit.
The win launched the Panthers into a share of second with South Sydney and just two points adrift of competition leaders Manly.
It's a position the Dragons would dearly love to find themselves in as the prospect of a third straight season without finals football appears sealed.
The Red V are four points out of the top eight with just four games to play, but a vastly inferior for-and-against compared to their nearest rivals means they need a minor miracle to scrape into the playoff picture.
Segeyaro turned in another 80-minute all-action display - and Penrith's dummy-half options are only going to get better next year when Souths recruit Apisai Koroisau heads to the foot of the mountains.
But while ever the Panthers' near inpenetrable brick wall is turning away opposition like they did in Wollongong their supporters will still be optimistic about causing damage against the premiership heavyweights in 2014.
St George Illawarra scored first, but never looked likely for the remaining 70 minutes as a combination of hare-brained last-tackle plays and their own errors cruelled any hope of a season-saving win.
Brett Morris' opening four-pointer was worthy of re-writing rugby league history as a sweeping backline move helped the Dragons winger and Canterbury centre Josh Morris eclipse the record number of tries in the top grade by a set of brothers.
It was the 196th time the Kiama twins had crossed the stripe in their NRL career, eclipsing the Mortimer quartet - Steve, Peter, Chris and Glen - as the most prolific try-scoring siblings in Australian rugby league history.
Morris can largely thank Adam Quinlan for the feat though as his around-the-corner pass put the finishing touch on a move which featured Ben Creagh, Benji Marshall and Gareth Widdop arrowing the Dragons' attack down their left-hand side.
Morris' mark was one milestone the Dragons would want to remember from the first half. Dan Hunt's belated 150th NRL game is probably one he would rather forget after only figuring in the opening quarter.
Hunt caught David Simmons high to be placed on report with the Panthers scoring from the ensuing set when the ever-dangerous Segeyaro danced between a tiring Hunt and Jack de Belin to gift the visitors a half-time lead.
Simmons' turbulent first half ended on almost the same blade of grass as the Hunt shot, this time collecting an onrushing Joel Thompson as the pair converged on a bouncing ball. The Penrith winger was helped from the field seconds before the break for a concussion test and didn't return.
Segeyaro turned provider as the Panthers padded their lead three minutes into the second half as he rifled a pass to Docker close to the line for the former Dragons junior to crash over.
Jamal Idris appeared to have the wobbly boot on a couple of times, but returned to land the knockout blow eight minutes from time as he jigged his way past a forlorn Dragons defence.
- Fairfax Media
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