Dragons end Panthers streak to keep NRL Finals race alive

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St George Illawarra Dragons defied the absence of Josh Dugan to keep their NRL Finals hopes alive with a dramatic 16-14 victory over Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium.

Manly Sea Eagles' come-from-behind triumph over New Zealand Warriors earlier on Sunday meant the Dragons had to beat the Panthers to retain a chance of making the top eight heading into the final round of the regular season.

And St George just about got the job done, Tariq Sims' opportunistic 56th-minute try enough to earn victory as Penrith's seven-match winning streak came to an end.

With his side trailing 14-12, Sims sneakily stripped the ball from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak before surging to the line from 45 metres out.

The Dragons' win was all the more impressive after the club announced before the game that Australia centre Dugan had been omitted for "disciplinary issues".

Paul McGregor's side are now two points behind Penrith, North Queensland Cowboys and Manly with one match to play. St George host Canterbury Bulldogs next weekend, while the Panthers visit the Sea Eagles and the Cowboys are at home to Brisbane Broncos.

Manly's win over New Zealand Warriors came courtesy of a thrilling late fightback.

The Warriors led 21-14 with seven minutes remaining, but Tom Trbojevic went over for a try that was converted before Ata Hingano put the restart out on the full, an error that gave Daly Cherry-Evans the chance to tie the scores with a drop goal.

Cherry-Evans then sealed victory for the Sea Eagles with another one-pointer in extra time.