Two tries from Dean Whare inside the opening 23 minutes proved crucial as the Panthers racked up a fifth successive win.
Jason Nightingale crossed twice for the Dragons, but it was not enough.
Penrith remain top on points difference ahead of Manly Sea Eagles, one of six teams to receive a bye.
South Sydney Rabbitohs moved into third place as they ran in five converted tries to beat Wests Tigers 32-10 and record their fourth successive win.
Alex Johnston and Kyle Turner each claimed two tries for the in-form Rabbitohs, who are among five sides two points behind the leaders.
Sydney Roosters triumphed 29-12 against Newcastle Knights, who have now lost seven matches in succession.
Parramatta Eels also joined the chasing pack on 18 points as they condemned Canterbury Bulldogs to a third straight defeat.
Ryan Morgan and Vai Toutai shared four of the Eels’ five tries in a 22-12 triumph.
The final game of the round saw Melbourne Storm record a 24-20 victory over Gold Coast Titans in a pulsating clash that saw the lead change hands on several occasions.
Ben Hampton’s try put the Storm ahead 18-16 with 10 minutes remaining and Kurt Mann added another try in the 75th minute to effectively seal Melbourne’s victory.
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