2022 NRL Grand Final Preview, Panthers Vs Eels

Elinya Chenery previews the 2022 NRL Grand Final – the battle of western Sydney …

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Penrith Panthers Vs Parramatta Eels
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney
Date: Sunday October 2, 7:30pm


Related: NRL Team List Tuesday

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Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards, 2. Charlie Staines, 3. Izack Tago, 4. Stephen Crichton, 5. Brian To’o, 6. Jarmome Luai, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Moses Leota, 9. Apisai Koroisau, 10. James Fisher-Harris, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Liam Martin, 13. Isaah Yeo, 14. Mitch Kenny, 15. Scott Sorensen, 16. Spencer Leniu, 17. Jaeman Salmon, 18. Sean O’Sullivan, 19. Matt Eisenhuth, 20. J’maine Hopgood, 21. Sunia Turuva, 22. Chris Smith.

Viliame Kikau and Charlie Staines are available for selection in the Panthers side despite being charged by the NRL Match Review Committee out of their win over the Rabbitohs. Taylan May has been ruled out due to a lingering hamstring injury, meaning Charlie Staines will feature in his first NRL Grand Final.  

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Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson, 2. Maika Sivo, 3. Will Penisini, 4. Bailey Simonsson, 5. Waqa Blake, 6. Dylan Brown, 7. Mitchell Moses, 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9. Reed Mahoney, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Shaun Lane, 12. Isaiah Papali’i, 13. Ryan Matterson, 14. Nathan Brown, 15. Jake Arthur, 16. Oregon Kaufusi, 17. Marata Niukore, 18. Bryce Cartwright, 19. Makahesi Makatoa, 20. Tom Opacic, 21. Ofahiki Ogden, 22. Ky Rodwell.

Tom Opacic will be fighting against the clock to be right for the Eels, but like in week three of the finals, will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness. Bailey Simonsson has been named to start in Opacic’s place in the event he does not recover in time to take the field. 

Referee: Ashley Klein


This. Is. It. Months of preseason training, 25 regular season games, and an epic finals series. 365 days of blood, sweat and tears. Everything comes down to this. Will the Panthers go back-to-back and solidify themselves as a rugby league dynasty? Or will Parramatta break their 36-year premiership drought? Either way, the result of Sunday night’s sold-out decider will etch one of these teams into not only into the history books but also launch them into legendary status.  

Both teams are coming into this match – affectionately known as “The Battle of the West” – with almost full-strength sides, and it’s sure to be one of the showdowns of our time. Whilst the defending premiers come off the back off what ended up being a convincing 20-point victory against South Sydney, the Eels head into this match following a much closer preliminary final, with the Cowboys pushing them right until the final play of the match.  

Whoever walks away with the Provan-Summons Trophy on Sunday night will most likely come down to who wins the battle in the halves, and ultimately controls the game from the outset. With Nathan Cleary, a proven big game player lining up alongside the electric five-eighth Jarome Luai, the Eels need to make a concentrated effort towards shutting down Cleary’s kicking game right from the first whistle.  

Adversely, the young pairing of Mitch Moses and Dylan Brown will be playing in their first grand final, with Moses missing the birth of his first child last week in order to play in the match against North Queensland. Parramatta will need to utilise the pace and energy of their halves, as well as relying on their forwards to get them in a good position to play their own brand of dynamic footy, as it is highly unlikely that they will be able to out-kick Cleary for field position. The Panthers will need to aim up on the Eels’ big men, such as last week’s double try scorer Reagan Campbell-Gillard, in order to shut down Parramatta’s attacking opportunities.

For halfback Moses, this moment is personal, and a lifetime in the making. Speaking on Monday, Moses stated “I’ve supported Parramatta since I was a little kid, I grew up in the area… I was at the Grand Final in 2009 [when we lost to Storm] and I was just heartbroken”. An all-Sydney match up, the hopes and dreams of an entire city are intertwined with the outcome of this game, and the players and administration are well aware of the intensity, with NRL CEO Andrew Abdo commenting “The Grand final teams represent the beating heart of rugby league. Clubs that represent modern day Australia. Confident, vibrant and growing communities”. 

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No matter who wins on Sunday, this match will mark the first time in history that a father and son combination have won the premiership two years in a row – and only the third time ever that such a duo has won at all. John and Martin Lang were coach and player in the 2003 grand final-winning Penrith side, and Ivan and Nathan Cleary replicated this feat last year. Of course, if Penrith win, they will be the first ever to do so as coach and player twice in a row. However, history will still be achieved if Parramatta win, as Brad and Jake Arthur are also father and son/coach and player.   


Panthers by two.

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