The Panthers continued their march towards the minor premiership with a 25-12 victory over an improved Broncos, securing their 12th win in a row in the process.
The win at Suncorp Stadium took Penrith to 31 points on the ladder, five clear of the Melbourne Storm in second position.
It was the guile and skill of the Panthers halves Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary, along with hooker Api Koroisau, that proved decisive.
The Panthers' winning streak of 12 equals the Roosters (2015) and Storm (2011) in previous seasons and has only been bettered in the NRL era by the 2016 premiership-winning Sharks with 15 consecutive wins, and the Bulldogs of 2002 who chalked up 17 on the trot.
Match: Broncos v Panthers
Round 17 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The Broncos became the first team in the club's history to lose 14 games in a season and the first to lose eight regular season matches in a row.
The Broncos dominated the opening exchanges and belied their 15th placing on the ladder.
Darius Boyd threw one of his trademark balls to put Kotoni Staggs over for his 10th try in 11 games in the 10th minute and there was a sniff of a boilover.
The Panthers, after a five-day turnaround, looked flat and without their usual punch but the Broncos moved off their line with enthusiasm to repel them.
Classy Cleary puts a kick in for Capewell
It was a defensive error by Tom Dearden and Staggs that gave the Panthers a sniff and in-form Luai took it by fending off Dearden and sending an unmarked Josh Mansour over. Cleary landed the conversion and a penalty to give his side an 8-6 lead.
Cleary's vision came to the fore when he noticed Darius Boyd defending in the line and a deft kick was pounced on by Kurt Capewell who celebrated his return from a 11-week injury lay-off with a try to give Penrith a 14-6 lead at the break.
Cleary was at it again after half-time, chalking up his 16th try assist of the season with a precision grubber that skimmed over the turf. Luai pinned his ears back and grounded the ball with his thumb and Penrith led 20-6.
The Broncos hit back with a cracker. Dearden put bench forward Jordan Riki through a gap with a slick ball and the boom 20-year-old back-rower away on a 45-metre run to the line to give Brisbane a sniff, but that was soon extinguished.
Cleary secured a repeat set with another top-shelf grubber and hooker Koroisau took control from dummy-half to deceive the Broncos defence with Cleary and Edwards chiming in to send Brian To'o over in the corner and extend the lead to 24-12.
Cleary landed a field goal to put the game beyond doubt and saved a try at the death with a determined chase into his in-goal.
For Brisbane there was more to like for coach Peter Gentle with Payne Haas, Staggs, Dearden and Riki all looking like players to build a brighter future around.
Jordan Riki will never forget this moment
It said a lot about Ivan Cleary's side that they were able to win comfortably without being at their best.
"Last year a five-day turnaround into a trip up here would have been a really tough challenge for us," Cleary said.
"It was tough tonight, but we have definitely matured in that sense. We had a lot more to lose than they did and just to control things for the majority of the game and get the two points I was happy with."
The Panthers are set to win the minor premiership and Cleary said it would be "a great honour".
"We'd certainly love to do it and it is a credit to whoever wins it for consistency throughout the season, and a real highlight for us has been our consistency," he said.
"Last year we struggled away from home but this year we have only played at home five times. We've handled whatever has come our way so far."
Lock James Fisher-Harris was superb for the Panthers with 259 metres and 32 tackles.
"He has been good for every game for pretty much two years now," Cleary said.
"He was back to lock tonight and is continually hungry for more and to improve. He is a joy to coach."