2021 NRL Prelim Final Preview, Storm Vs Panthers

Christopher Rooney previews the preliminary final between Melbourne and Penrith. This is what we have to look forward to.

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Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Date: 25/9, Time: 4pm

Panthers Team

1. Dylan Edwards
2. Stephen Crichton
3. Paul Momirovski
4. Matt Burton
5. Brent Naden
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Moses Leota
9. Apisai Koroisau
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. Viliame Kikau
12. Kurt Capewell
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Tyrone May
15. Scott Sorensen
16. Tevita Pangai Junior
17. Liam Martin
18. Izack Tago
19. Spence Leniu
20. J’maine Hopgood
21. Brian To’o

Team Changes

IN: Brian To’o, J’maine Hopgood, Spencer Leniu, Tyrone May

Mitch Kenny

Referee: Gerard Sutton



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The Storm were rewarded with a week off after their dominating performance against the Sea Eagles in week one.

They have named their strongest side for this match and welcome back Josh Addo-Carr after being on the sideline for a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury.

Brandon Smith has been named as well after suffering a facial fracture in week one of the finals.

The Storm will be fresh and well-prepared for this matchup as they look to return back to the grand final in consecutive years.


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After losing in week one against the Rabbitohs, the Panthers have been made to go the long way to reach the grand final.

They won last week against the Eels by the skin of their teeth, which was overshadowed by a number of controversial decisions.

Mitch Kenny is out with an ankle injury, with Tyrone May replacing him on the bench.

Brian To’o has been named in the reserves with a 50/50 chance to be right for Saturday’s clash against the Storm.

Don’t be surprise if Viliame Kikau comes off the bench, despite being named in the starting side.


It’s the grand final rematch, but now one week before the grand final. Many thought we would see a repeat of last year’s grand final this year but rugby league is a funny game sometimes.

Not many expected the Rabbitohs to defend as well as they did against the Panthers in week one and walk away with the victory, while the Storm just dominated the Sea Eagles in every area in their win in week one.

Last week’s match was a brutal encounter for the Panthers and their attack has struggled in the past two weeks.

They will depend on Nathan Clearly’s kicking game and game management for the most part, but he may be carrying a minor injury heading into this match.

They will want to start fast and make a statement early as no doubt they are still majorly hurting after last year’s loss against the Storm.

The Storm are in the box seat to make back-to-back grand final appearance and maybe even win back-to-back premierships.

It’s an incredible achievement for this club after losing Cameron Smith: not many expected them to continue to dominate, but here we are.

The best attacking side and second best defence versus the best defensive side, what a rematch.


Both sides have faced each other 38 times, with the Storm winning 28 matches.

The previous two meeting have seen both sides winning a match. In Round Three this year, the Panthers won on the bell after Kikau stopped Justin Olam scoring in the corner.

Also in Round 20 where the Storm defeated the Panthers in convincing fashion 37-10, though granted most of their Origin players were out.

And both side featured in last year’s grand final where the Storm were victorious 26-20.


And they meet again but now there is more pressure on the Panthers to stand up and deliver.

The Panthers do not want to bow out in the preliminary final against the Storm of all teams and once again come up short.

The Storm will want to prove that they can win without Cameron Smith and show that they are still the team to beat.

The Panthers’ road to the grand final is without a doubt the toughest one they could imagine.

Cleary will need more support from his forward pack, who for the past weeks have been outplayed.

Jarome Luai will also need to step up and prove he can handle the finals, which has yet to be seen.

Also between the coaches, Craig Bellamy has been through this countless times and would have done more than enough preparation to handle Clearly’s kicking game and continue to limit their forward pack.

I expect a relatively close contest between the two but the Storm have named their strongest side we have seen all year.

With Ryan Papenhuyzen, Cameron Munster, Hughes, Brandon Smith, and Harry Grant all in great form, their class in attack may be the ultimate difference in the end. 

Storm 1-12.

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