Cronulla Sharks pipped Wests Tigers to the last place in the NRL finals with a 25-8 victory at Leichhardt Oval, denying Robbie Farah a fairy-tale end to his career.

Only an unlikely draw would have sent both teams through to the elimination finals at the expense of Brisbane Broncos, and an electric start to the second half turned the game in favour of the Sharks.

Farah broke his leg just four weeks ago and only made the squad due to an injury to Corey Thompson in the warm-up, but he could not inspire a dramatic turnaround in his final match before retirement.

The Sharks will face Manly Sea Eagles in their elimination final, with the other seeing Parramatta Eels take on the Broncos.

Briton Nikora danced his way past four players to cross for an excellent try, with Shaun Johnson’s penalty on the stroke of half-time the difference between the teams after Paul Momirovski kicked two goals.

Josh Morris extended Cronulla’s lead five minutes after the restart, the centre pouncing when Esan Marsters failed to keep hold of Johnson’s grubber kick.

An excellent offload from Jack Williams preceded Sosaia Feki going over in the left corner and the Sharks wing had his second less than three minutes later by barrelling through Momirovski.

Michael Maguire responded by sending on Farah for his first appearance since his injury and Luke Garner darted through for the Tigers’ first try with 19 minutes remaining.

However, they were unable to add to their tally and Cronulla prop Paul Gallen – who will retire at the end of the season – slotted through the first drop goal of his career in the final seconds.

Nathan Cleary scored a club record 34 points as Penrith Panthers finished their season with a 54-10 thrashing of Newcastle Knights.

New South Wales Blues half-back Cleary crossed twice in each half, with Billy Burns bagging a double in just his second NRL appearance.

Brian To’o, Wayde Egan and Moses Leota also got in on the act, with Cleary converting all of Penrith’s nine tries in a blistering display that was James Maloney’s last outing before moving to Catalans Dragons.