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Koroisau hurt as Panthers thrash Warriors

Influential Penrith hooker Api Koroisau has declared he will be fit for the NRL finals despite leaving the field with an ankle injury in the Panthers’ 46-12 thrashing of the Warriors.

Koroisau played on after rolling his left ankle midway through the first half of Friday night’s game at BlueBet Stadium but spent most of the second half on the bench, with Mitch Kenny called on as his replacement.

The 29-year-old is likely to be rested for the Panthers’ last game of the regular season along with a handful of other stars but says he is no chance to miss the finals series.

“I’ll be there. There’s no issue there,” he told reporters.

“I rolled on it a little bit but I wasn’t going very fast so there wasn’t much pressure there. It feels better now than it did before.”

Coach Ivan Cleary previously refused to confirm whether Jarome Luai would be rested for round 25 but in his first game back from a four-week injury lay-off, the five-eighth proved he won’t need another week to be ready for finals action.

When the game was in the balance, the Panthers were most active down Sean O’Sullivan’s right side but Luai nevertheless found opportunities to flaunt his famous running game.

A line break early in the second half dispelled any lingering concerns about the knee he injured.

“He certainly looked lively,” Cleary said.

“Sometimes with those medial ligament injuries, it can take a bit of a while to get that sharpness back but he was displaying that at training.”

The Warriors gave Penrith an early scare when Dunamis Lui cut through a feeble tackle from Chris Smith, who was called in late to replace Liam Martin (rested).

Lui’s break led to a Reece Walsh try and the Panthers showed their nerves in some poor fifth-tackle options and sloppy handling.

But the Warriors didn’t have the defensive muscle to restrain the Panthers once they found their rhythm.

By halftime, the Warriors had made 25 missed tackles to Penrith’s one.

“It was another tough one,” Warriors interim coach Stacey Jones said.

“But I thought the boys dug deep at times. It was just disappointing before halftime when we let in a couple of quick tries.”

The Panthers were especially destructive on the edges, wingers Taylan May and Brian To’o breaking their dry spells with two tries each.

Penrith prop Spencer Leniu left the field with a shoulder complaint in the second half but the Panthers didn’t want for intensity through the middle.

Leading the way, James Fisher-Harris played the first 61 minutes of his first game back from suspension for 181-run metres.

The Panthers secured the minor premiership with last week’s win over South Sydney and at fulltime, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo presented the side with the JJ Giltinan Shield.

Suspended co-captain Nathan Cleary was granted an exemption to participate in the ceremony.

“The Penrith Panthers’ second minor premiership in three years is a massive achievement and testament to the professionalism of everyone at the club,” Abdo said.

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