2023 NRL: Grand Final Preview, Panthers Vs Broncos

Penrith Panthers are aiming to become the first team since Parramatta Eels to win three consecutive titles.



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


Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Scott Sorensen 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Jack Cogger 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Luke Garner 18. Tyrone Peachey 19. Matthew Eisenhuth 20. Zac Hosking 21. Luke Sommerton 22. Thomas Jenkins

Broncos: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Brendan Piakura 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Keenan Palasia 18. Corey Oates 19. Martin Taupau 20. Corey Jensen 21. Jock Madden 22. Tristan Sailor

Referee: Adam Gee

Embed from Getty Images


The 2023 NRL season will come to a fitting end when the competition’s top two teams meet in this year’s grand final. You have the Penrith Panthers, chasing a shot at history with a rare threepeat, and the Brisbane Broncos, who are looking to win their first premiership since 2006. Given these two teams have been the best all season, this match should be one to remember.

Both sides have enjoyed a comfortable path to the deciding game. The Panthers put away the New Zealand Warriors in the opening round, which earned them a week off, before doing a job on the Melbourne Storm. Similarly, the Broncos dominated the Storm in the opening week of the finals, before carving up the Warriors last week.

These two teams both sit at one win a piece throughout the regular season.

The Broncos pulled off one of the great upsets back in round 1 when they defeated the Panthers at home by a single point. With hindsight, it certainly foreshadows the season the Broncos were to have.

The Panthers would get one back on them in round 12, winning 15-4, though it was against a Broncos side missing their skipper and key player Adam Reynolds. The form suggests there is little between them.

There are vital match-ups right across the park that will define this contest. Games of footy are always won in the middle, and the match-up between the two forward packs promises fireworks.

You have James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota, who average 242 running metres a game between them and have been instrumental in the Panthers’ success over the past few years.

However, opposing them are the two State of Origin props Thomas Flagler and Payne Haas, who average 299 running metres between them and have both had career-best seasons.

If that contest isn’t enough, consider the battle between the ever-reliable Dylan Edwards, and 2023’s breakout superstar Reece Walsh.

Edwards has been a rock for the Panthers in recent seasons, averaging 203 metres per game and regularly making try-saving tackles. Who could forget his heroics in last year’s decider when he chased down Bailey Simonsson?

However, his opposite, Walsh, has arguably been the best player in the competition this year. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that his form is a big reason for the Broncos premiership push. His biggest asset is his speed: once he finds space, he’s nearly impossible to chase down.

Finally, perhaps the biggest match-up on the field is that of the two half-backs: Nathan Cleary and Adam Reynolds.

The Panthers’ playmaker has been in rare touch, which is all the more impressive given the usual high standard he plays with. He has been instrumental in his side’s avalanche of points during the finals series. Throughout the year, he’s accumulated 19 try assists and averages 474.7 kicking metres per game. If he sustains this sort of form for his career, he will be spoken about as an all-time great.

Opposite him is one of the Broncos’ best buys in their decorated history, and that’s saying a lot. Adam Reynolds, who was shown the door by his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs, has demonstrated why he was more than worth the three-year contract he wanted. The calm confidence his experience brings is invaluable to his young side.

All in all, this has all the makings of a classic grand final. With little between these two sides, expect a tight, enthralling encounter.


Broncos 5, Panthers 5


Penrith Panthers have won eight straight finals and will be looking to create history by winning their third straight premiership.

Penrith have won 2 of 3 NRL Finals against the Broncos (2/9/1990 Penrith 26-16; 14/9/2003 Penrith 28-18; 15/9/2017 Brisbane 13-6).

Brisbane have appeared in 7 grand finals:

  • 1992: Brisbane Broncos 28-8 St George
  • 1993: Brisbane Broncos 14-6 St George
  • 1997: Brisbane Broncos 26-8 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
  • 1998: Brisbane Broncos 38-12 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (27/9/1998)
  • 2000: Brisbane Broncos 14-6 Sydney Roosters (27/8/2000)
  • 2006: Brisbane Broncos 15-8 Melbourne Storm (1/10/2006)
  • 2015: North Queensland Cowboys 17-16 Brisbane Broncos (4/10/2015)

Penrith have appeared in 6 grand finals:

  • 1990: Canberra Raiders 18-14 Penrith Panthers
  • 1991: Penrith Panthers 19-12 Canberra Raiders
  • 2003: Penrith Panthers 18-6 Sydney Roosters (5/10/2003)
  • 2020: Melbourne Storm 26-20 Penrith Panthers (25/10/2003)
  • 2021: Penrith Panthers 14-12 South Sydney Rabbitohs (3/10/2003)
  • 2022: Penrith Panthers 28-12 Parramatta Eels (2/10/2023)


From fullback to the halves and forwards, there’s plenty of key battles across the park on grand final night.


Matt Pritchard (133)Andrew Pelechaty (146)Shannon Meyer (137)Matt Attard (129)
WinnerPanthers by 14Panthers by 10Broncos by 8Panthers by 8
First TryscorerBrian To’oDylan EdwardsHerbie FarnworthBrian To’o
Clive ChurchillDylan EdwardsNathan ClearyLiam MartinStephen Crichton
Brendan Wood (143)Nathan Smith (141)Lachlan Jeffery (133)Mark Barnes (140)
WinnerPanthers by 2Panthers by 13Panthers by 4Panthers by 16
First TryscorerSelwyn CobboBrian To’oLiam MartinBrian To’o
Clive ChurchillNathan ClearyNathan ClearyBrian To’oBrian To’o

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