Penrith have taken full advantage of a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck injury to claim a decisive 27-12 win over the Warriors and book a spot in next week's NRL semi- finals.
The Warriors were down by two on Saturday when Tuivasa-Sheck was assisted from the field on the half-hour mark after suffering a suspected medial ligament injury.
Considered a heavy contender to take out this year's Dally M medal, the Warriors failed to recover from Tuivasa-Sheck's exit in what was their first finals visit since 2011.
Panthers centre Tyrone Peachey nabbed his second try a minute later and from there the mountain men were never headed as they cruised to victory at ANZ Stadium.
They now wait for the loser of the qualifying final between the Sydney Roosters and Cronulla.
Penrith were only up by six at halftime but, in their fourth straight set on the Warriors' line, made it a two-try lead on Christian Crichton's four-pointer in the 51st minute.
A Maloney field goal with 20 minutes on the clock killed the Warriors' spirit, and Nathan Cleary put the finishing touches on the win with a penalty goal not long after.
Peachey finished with two tries, and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak also impressed at fullback.
Warriors star Shaun Johnson was noticeably quiet, while the defeat also marked the end of veteran Simon Mannering's career.
It was a measured performance from the Panthers, who were again down on the scoreboard early but seized momentum on Tuivasa-Sheck's injury.
A Cleary penalty goal opened the pointscoring but it was all the Warriors early, with Issac Luke and David Fusitu'a taking advantage of a wasteful Panthers attack.
Fusitu'a, who finished as the league's top tryscorer, was on the end of a dazzling Warriors attack to equal Francis Meli's club record of 23 tries in a season set in 2002.
But the game turned on two kicks.
The first was Maloney's attempted 40-20 that ended in Peachey scoring not long after, while Maloney made it two tries in three minutes after Luke's kickoff went out on the full.
Things just went from bad to worse for the Warriors to close out the half, with Peachey getting his second moments after Tuivasa-Sheck exited the field with his knee issue.