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2021 NRL Preliminary Final, Storm 6 – Panthers 10 Report

Craig Cauchi reviews last years grand final rematch between Storm and Panthers with a spot in the decider on the line. Here’s how the game went.

SCOREBOARD

Storm 6

Tries: Ryan Papenhuyzen (62)

Goals: Ryan Papenhuyzen (64)

Panthers 10

Tries: Stephen Crichton (2), Brian To’o (42)

Goals: Nathan Cleary (4)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Kurt Capewell (Panthers)
2 pts – Dylan Edwards (Panthers)
1 pt – Jarome Hughes (Storm)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

Melbourne, a week off, and a preliminary final are all the right ingredients for a quick and fast start. It didn’t quite go that way. Storm didn’t catch the kick off on the full and dropped the next kick that came their way. Nathan Cleary took advantage of the good field position, taking the ball from dummy half and kicking out wide to an unmarked Stephen Crichton for the first try. Storm had the next chance but George Jennings spilt the ball with the line wide open. A clever play from Brandon Smith – kicking the first ever 20/40 – gave Storm another golden opportunity but an error again cruelled their chances with the line wide open. The intensity never dropped as the sides started going through their sets and finding their groove in the match. A spectacular dive from Nelson Asofa Solomona for a try was called back from an obstruction but the dive added to the spectacular nature of the match. The half personified by a late break from Jarome Hughes, chased down by Scott Sorenson as they both flashed down the side line clearly fatigued. They were all out on their feet as the halftime siren sounded on the back of a half full of defensive resolve.

HALF-TIME: Melbourne Storm 0 Penrith Panthers 6

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2nd Half

With two players ruled out for the rest of the match, the Storm started the second half in the worst possible way. Storm’s first set ended in an error and from that set they scored. Isaah Yeo, at first receiver, held the ball long enough for the outside backs to take advantage and send Brian To’o over for the second try of the match. Melbourne kept shooting themselves in the foot with un-Melbourne like errors and finally, after 64 minutes of play they scored after a neat kick from Cameron Munster sat up for Ryan Papenhuyzen. The cauldron was set alight for the final 15 minutes and the two sides didn’t disappoint. Every player drew into the depths of their energy tank to deliver a classic ending to a classic finals match. The Storm threw caution to the wind but the match was never about attack. The Panthers defence held strong, right down until the final seconds to come away victorious. Penrith Panthers booking themselves a grand final ticket with a courageous victory over the minor premiers Melbourne Storm, who were as determined.

FULL-TIME: Melbourne Storm 6 Penrith Panthers 10

Injuries

Christian Welch (Storm), Brendan Smith (Storm)

Match Review Committee

Nathan Cleary (Panthers), Harry Grant (Storm)

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