The Penrith Panthers will enter their third consecutive NRL Grand Final as favourites to take out back-to-back titles. Here’s five reasons why they’ll take out the title.
5. Applying Pressure On Mitch Moses’ Kicking GameEmbed from Getty Images
Being wary of Mitch Moses’ kicking game will be one factor that will help the Panthers take out the 2022 title. When these two teams met in week 1 of the finals, Moses played field position by kicking early in the tackle count and turning around the big Panthers pack. Should greasy conditions prevail, Moses’ game could be important. To combat this, the Panthers markers need to be alert and apply pressure. Last week Moses uncharacteristically kicked out on the full twice which put his side under the pump.
4. Panthers Defence To Stop The Eels OffloadEmbed from Getty Images
Penrith’s technique to wrap up the ball in defence will be crucial in holding the Eels at bay. Ryan Matterson, Joseph Paulo and Shaun Lane will be the players the Panthers will know have that ability for second phase play and allow the Eels to get on a roll. Regardless of the conditions, the Eels will be keen to chance their arm. If Penrith stops this and forces a turnover or two, it could make a huge difference in the outcome.
3. Ability To Remain Composed Under PressureEmbed from Getty Images
There are two games in particular when the Panthers have stayed composed against top 8 sides and got the upper hand in the contest. Their win over Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at BlueBet Stadium where they conceded a 0-10 lead after twelve minutes only to go on and score 20 unanswered points to win. And last week, the Panthers appeared on the ropes at 0-12 before scoring two critical tries before the break before taking out the Rabbitohs 32-12. Their ability to remain composed and be patient is part of their success over the past three seasons. They also are confident to know they are a team who can play up until the 80th minute when other sides can’t stay with them the duration.
2. Balanced Interchange That Can Be Fully UtilisedEmbed from Getty Images
Penrith will essentially go into the game with three forwards and Jaeman Salmon who can play in the backs or forwards. This creates balance with Salmon able to slot into multiple positions, like Tyrone May in 2021. The interest for me is whether the Eels also make a late change and bring in Bryce Cartwright, leaving Jake Arthur as 18th man. In a game which could be brutal upfront, you’d want some capacity on the bench to make sure you had four solid utility players who can play in the forwards. Should Arthur make the seventeen, it feels the Eels bench is a bit light on troops.
1. Api Koroisau FactorEmbed from Getty Images
The injection of Api Koroisau into the game over the last month of the season has been unappreciated by most Panther fans, but it has been effective with the game swinging against the Eels in week 1 of the finals, and the Rabbitohs last week. It would not surprise me if Ivan Cleary did the same thing this week and relies on Mitch Kenny in the opening stages and gives Koroisau a full hour to fulfil his role. In addition, he knows what is required in Grand Finals having won with Souths in 2014 and played the last two consecutive deciders with the Panthers.