Tigers 32 Panthers 18
The Wests Tigers made it five in a row over a courageous Penrith outfit rocked by the sidelining of star Michael Jennings, notching a 32-18 victory in Friday night's NRL clash at Centrebet Stadium.
The Tigers had too much class for the injury - and suspension - hit Panthers, running in six tries to three to move ominously to sixth on the ladder.
With the Warriors hosting Newcastle on Saturday, the Tigers will stay at least seventh after this weekend but Tim Sheens' men can realistically set their sights on avoiding a qualifying final date against the first or second ranked side in September.
Their run home now is lowly trio Parramatta, Gold Coast and Cronulla, a scenario that can have them expecting to finish the regular season on 34 points.
The Panthers, who were missing Jennings after he was stood down for turning up to training under the influence of alcohol as well as stars Luke Lewis, Lachlan Coote and Michael Gordon, will remain three wins outside the eight with their finals hopes gone.
Jennings was made to buy and hand out 2000 tickets to fans at halftime as part of his punishment.
Gareth Ellis bagged a double while Chris Heighington, Tim Moltzen, Robbie Farah and Beau Ryan scored tries for the Tigers with Benji Marshall booting four from six.
For the Panthers, Trent Waterhouse, Adrian Purtell and Ryan Walker scored four-pointers and Luke Walsh kicked three from three.
The Tigers led 16-0 after 30 minutes through three first half tries and 16-6 at halftime after Waterhouse had scored six minutes before the break.
Tim Sheens' nerves might have been tested when Purtell outleapt Matt Utai to grab a Walsh bomb in the 48th minute and it was 16-12.
But a controversial try to Farah five minutes later, after Tigers centre Blake Ayshford had appeared to knock on in effecting a turnover at the other end of the field, provided some breathing space at 22-12.
Penrith didn't give up and were mounting an impressive attacking raid when Ryan grabbed a Waterhouse pass and ran 75m to score an intercept try in the 65th minute to seal it.
Late tries to Ellis and Walker completed the scoring in front of a healthy 15,152 fans.
A bizarre referral to video referee Paul Simpkins had led to the Tigers' first try.
Lock Heighington was awarded the four-pointer in the seventh minute, but only after referees Phil Haines and Ashley Klein had disagreed about the grounding.
Haines had pointed to the middle of the goal line to indicate a drop-out, but Klein's suggestion the grounding be checked by Simpkins resulted in a try.
WESTS TIGERS 32 (G Ellis 2 R Farah C Heighington T Moltzen B Ryan tries B Marshall 4 goals) bt PENRITH 18 (A Purtell R Walker T Waterhouse tries L Walsh 3 goals) at Centrebet Stadium. Referee: Phil Haines, Ashley Klein. Crowd: 15,152.