Nathan Cleary has put together a second half masterclass to guide the Penrith Panthers to a week off and the preliminary finals with a superb 27 points to 8 win over the Parramatta Eels.

After a tight first half, it was all the minor premiers after the break, not helped by a couple of worrying concussion-related incidents to Parramatta stars Shaun Lane and Mitchell Moses.

Lane returned to the game, however, Moses will be left racing the clock for next week.

The Eels had all of the early running, with Mitchell Moses' kicking game putting the Panthers under a mountain of pressure.

Back-to-back drop outs had the Eels on the front foot, however, a Junior Paulo error, coupled with a lost challenge in just the seventh minute of the game, threatened to tip the balance of the game.

The Panthers would have the first genuine opportunity of the game, however, Stephen Crichton would be denied a try by the bunker as he found space on the right edge, only to be found held up in the goal line by Maika Sivo and a scrambling Dylan Brown.

Just minutes later, the Eels found themselves working back onto the attack, before young centre Will Penisini dropped a ball on the right edge and found himself stumbling back on his feet.

Taylan May would be placed in the sin bin for the tackle, with replays showing he made direct, forceful contact to the head of Penisini.

It didn't impact the Panthers though, who ultimately scored first points with 12 on the park as Brian To'o crossed on the end of some expansive play.

Defence from both sides was the order of the day as the minutes ticked by, although Marata Niukore found himself on report for a cannonball style tackle on Stephen Crichton, who immediately seemed to have a leg injury, but was then able to continue.

Penrith didn't help themselves with a handful of errors in crucial spots on the field, however, Parramatta continued to fail on the attacking front until they were finally able to score in the 29th minute.

It would be a Reed Mahoney short ball out of dummy half which sent Oregon Kaufusi over for the try as Penrith's defence failed to close a gap under the goal posts.

In a sign of exactly how tight the clash was, Mitchell Moses attempted a field goal three minutes out from half time with scores locked at six a piece, but it missed to the left.

Nathan Cleary then had exactly the same idea at the other end to put a field goal away and hand the Panthers the lead two minutes out from the break.

Cleary himself was a chance of scoring the first try of the second half, only to be knocked back by the bunker, with the Eels then slotting a penalty goal just moments later following a Spencer Leniu high shot on Isaiah Papali'i.

The one-point lead ultimately wouldn't last for the Eels though, with Brian To'o crossing for a double with 27 minutes to go in the right corner.

Things would only get tougher for the Eels, with Shaun Lane and Mitchell Moses both being taken off for HIAs within a handful of seconds of each other, before a grubber kick from Nathan Cleary was perfectly picked up by Dylan Edwards for what would ultimately be the try that put the result beyond doubt, the score reading 17 points to 8 with just 19 minutes to play.

Nathan Cleary continued to be heavily involved down the stretch, this time throwing an offload to James Fisher-Harris to cross for another try just a couple of minutes later.

Penrith continued with the ascendancy in the final minutes, although a concern for the club will relate to Taylan May's hamstring, who seemed to hurt himself with just ten minutes to play, before heading to the bench and being pictures with ice on the injury.

The Eels will now play the winner of the elimination final between the Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders next week, while the Panthers will await either the Cronulla Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys, Sydney Roosters or South Sydney Rabbitohs in a fortnight for a spot in the grand final.

Match summary

Penrith Panthers 27 (Tries: Brian To'o [2], Dylan Edwards, James Fisher-Harris Goals: Nathan Cleary 4/4, Penalty goal: Nathan Cleary 1/1, Field goal: Nathan Cleary 1/1) defeat Parramatta Eels 8 (Try: Oregon Kaufusi, Goal: Mitchell Moses 1/1, Penalty goal: Mitchell Moses 1/1, Field goal: Mitchell Moses 0/1)