An in-form halves pairing has Isaah Yeo feeling optimistic about the Penrith Panthers’ NRL title chances.
Dubbo’s Yeo was his regular hard-working self in the back row during the Panthers’ 27-12 elimination final win over the Warriors on Saturday.
Post-game, he had nothing but praise for halves James Maloney and Nathan Cleary.
Maloney delivered a masterclass against the Warriors.
The renowned finals specialist kicked a 40-20, scored a try, and forced two line dropouts during the win.
"(Maloney) was vocal the way he steers the team around, kicking at the right time. He'll be kicking three and four but they'll be controlled kicks," Yeo said after the win.
"He's the orchestrator out there.
"I thought Nathan was exceptional there as well. I thought he controlled it when he had to. I thought his kicking was really good today."
Yeo had one try assist and a line break in the win.
He and coach Cameron Ciraldo fronted the media after the win, with the rookie mentor in an optimistic mood.
"We've got to get through next week first and that's going to be a tough game,” Ciraldo said, his side playing Cronulla next.
"Whoever we play, it's going to have to take a big effort. We're going to need to be better than what we were even tonight."
It is the third straight year the Panthers have advanced to the final six, having been knocked out by Canberra two years ago and Brisbane last year.
Pressed on whether he felt he had a team that could do something special this year, Ciraldo said: "Yeah. I feel like if we can win next week, then hopefully we can win the week after.
"But we've got a big job to get ready for next week because there's no point talking three weeks ahead if we don't get through next week."
The contest against the Sharks comes almost 12 months after the Panthers' decision to release then-skipper Matt Moylan in what was resulted in a player- swap for Maloney.