NRL Week 1 Finals: Panthers 27, Eels 8
Brendan Wood reviews the Penrith Panthers win over the Parramatta Eels to kick-off the NRL Finals series in style.
Penrith Panthers 27
Tries: Brian To’o (16, 52), Dylan Edwards (60), James Fisher-Harris (63)
Goals: Nathan Cleary (17, 54, 62, 64, 79)
Field Goals: Nathan Cleary (38)
Parramatta Eels 8
Tries: Oregon Kaufusi (29)
Goals: Mitchell Moses (30, 47)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The Panthers welcomed back Nathan Cleary as they hosted the Eels to kick-off the 2022 Finals series. It was Cleary’s opposite number, Mitchell Moses, who had his kicking game on show early when he forced two line drop-outs.
Despite the pressure, Junior Paulo lost possession to start their third repeat set. After the Eels fended off an attacking raid from the Panthers, Taylan May was sin-binned for a high shot on Will Penisini.
Despite being down a man in defence, it was the Panthers who opened the scoring. A towering bomb from Nathan Cleary forced an error from Waqa Blake. Cleaning up the scraps, James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota combined to setup Brian To’o for a try.
May returned to the field as the Panthers consolidated their 6-0 lead with strong defence, frustrating the Eels into further errors. Eventually, Reed Mahoney cracked the Penrith defensive wall. He put Oregon Kaufusi over for a try under the posts to level the scores.
Heading into halftime, Nathan Cleary nailed a field-goal to give the Panthers a one point lead at the break.
An early chance after halftime for the Panthers was squandered when Cleary fumbled a loose ball over the line. Instead, it was the Eels who capitalised on a penalty as they opted for the two points to grab the lead.
Another towering bomb from Cleary forced another error from Waqa Blake, and the Panthers pounced. After sustained pressure, they put the ball through the hands and Brian To’o grabbed his second try of the night. After losing the lead, Mitchell Moses’ night was ended prematurely when he suffered a nasty head-knock.
The Panthers could smell blood in the water, and Nathan Cleary seized the game by the scruff of the neck. He setup a try to Dylan Edwards, and in the next set he made a line-break, then setup James Fisher-Harris to score a few plays later.
Putting icing on the cake, Cleary converted a penalty goal in the final minutes to secure a 19 point win and a week off to prepare for a preliminary final.
PLAYER OF THE FINALS POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers), 2 pts – Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers), 1 pt – James Fisher-Harris (Penrith Panthers)
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