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2022 NRL Grand Final, Panthers 28 Eels 12 – Report

Andrew Pelechaty reviews the 2022 NRL Grand Final …

MATCHDAY RESULTS

SCOREBOARD

Penrith Panthers 28
Tries: Brian To’o 2 (17, 45), Stephen Crichton (10), Scott Sorensen (27), Charlie Staines (58)
Goals: e.g., Nathan Cleary 3 (12, 21 – pen 28)

Parramatta Eels 12
Tries: Clinton Gutherson (76), Jake Arthur (77)
Goals: Mitchell Moses (76, 77)

MATCH REPORT

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After an intense opening 10 minutes between the Western Sydney rivals, Penrith (wearing their magnificent ‘liquorice allsorts’ retro jerseys) were first to score through Stephen Crichton. Nathan Cleary converted to give Penrith a 6-0 lead.

Brian To’o scored next as the defending premiers went down the left corner, giving Penrith a 10-0 lead. Even at this early stage, the clinical Panthers looked in the mood to rack up a big score.

Parramatta’s woes continued when Clinton Gutherson kicked a goal-line drop-out on the full, gifting Cleary a simple penalty goal for a 12-0 lead after 21 minutes.

Penrith made it 18-0 after Scott Sorensen scored off a beautiful Cleary grubber: the Eels cracking after sustained pressure from the Panthers (with over 60% possession so far). It was almost a reverse of the 2020 Grand Final, when Melbourne led Penrith 26-0 early in the second half. 

Waqa Blake saved another Penrith try, beating Viliame Kikau to the ball, and then the Eels recovered the short drop-out. While Parramatta had their best attacking chance of the half, Jarome Luai caught a bomb to ensure Penrith kept their 18-0 lead at the break.

Penrith all but put the game away early in the second half: while there were doubts over an obstruction call, the Bunker ruled that Mitchell Moses had made a ‘defensive decision’, with To’o scoring in the left corner (his second try) to give Penrith a 22-0 lead.

Parramatta nearly got their first try, but Maika Sivo dropped the ball after a wonderful tackle from Crichton.

Dylan Edwards turned the clock back to 2003 with a spectacular tackle on Bailey Simonsson. It was a near-mirror image of the famous Scott Sattler tackle. Parramatta’s bad night got worse, with Simonsson leaving the field.

Penrith benefitted immediately with a try to Charlie Staines. Panthers fans could start partying, even with 20 minutes left. For Sydney-based Penrith fans, it was a chance to celebrate live after last year’s Lang Park premiership.

Cleary nearly scored his 50th career try but came up short. It didn’t matter (except for Cleary) as Penrith were well ahead and never looked like easing up.

While Parramatta fans would want to forget this game quickly, the Eels weren’t horrible: Penrith were just several classes above them.

Gutherson finally scored Parramatta’s first try in the closing minutes, but there understandably wasn’t much celebration.

The much-maligned Jakob Arthur scored next to give Eels fans some solace.

Penrith won their fourth premiership this season, with other wins in SG Ball, Jersey Flegg, and NSW Cup. Their NSW Cup side also won the State Championship today, beating Norths Devils 44-10. Their NRL side only lost four games all season and became the second team to win consecutive premierships in the NRL era. Based on their depth, Penrith’s dynasty could last a while.

PLAYER OF THE FINALS POINTS

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3 pts – Dylan Edwards (Panthers), 2 pts – Stephen Crichton (Panthers), 1 pt – Brian To’o (Panthers)

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