NRL

Panthers defeat injury-prone Cowboys

Penrith have cemented their position inside the NRL top eight with a Nathan Cleary-led 24-16 win over an injury-hit North Queensland at Pepper Stadium.

Cleary came up with one of the try-savers of the year and scored two decisive second-half tries to lead his side to victory over a gutsy Cowboys on Saturday night.

The Cowboys, already missing Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Gavin Cooper, Antonio Winterstein and Te Maire Martin, were struck two massive blows when they lost Michael Morgan and Justin O'Neill to injury.

It's feared O'Neill's season is over after he dislocated his elbow while halfback Morgan didn't return in the second half after suffering a concussion.

The Cowboys were brave, playing the entire second stanza with two men on the bench while fullback Lachlan Coote seemed to be playing with an ankle injury.

AAP