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The Accor Stadium in Sydney was the venue for an NRL Grand Final between runaway Minor Premiers and defending champions Penrith Panthers and the side which finished four places and eight points behind then at the end of the regular season, the Paramatta Eels.

The twenty-fifth NRL Grand Final was the third consecutive for the Panthers with the Eels making their first appearance in the showpiece event since their loss to Melbourne Storm in 2009, a victory later stripped from the Melbourne side for salary cap breaches.

The bookies were convinced that the Panthers would be lifting the trophy again in 2022 and had handicapped them by ten points on the coupon and making them odds on favourites on the win market. A packed house held its breath.

After an end to end opening ten minutes, it was the Panthers who broke the deadlock with Stephen Crichton taking a Dylan Edwards reverse pass on the thirty-metre line and going through gap to run the angle and cross by the right upright. Nathan Cleary added the conversion, and the favourites were six points to the good.

Within seven minutes the Panthers extended their lead with a second expansive try, the ball moving fast to the left with Brian To´o on hand to take the final pass and push through his opposite number to stretch for the line and ground. Cleary was unable to turn the ball between the uprights from the touchline.

After holding their own in the opening ten, Paramatta found themselves pinned deep inside their own half as they struggled to get their hands on the ball. When a goal line dropout went out on the full Penrith opted to kick the penalty to extend the lead to two converted tries.

On twenty-seven the Paramatta defence crumbled again Scott Sorensen collecting a Cleary dink grubber by the left upright to ground. Cleary was again on target with the boot for 18-0. Thoughts were already turning to the record books as it looked ominous for the Eels.

A try saver by Waqa Blake denied Viliame Kikau on thirty-seven as the two players chased a grubber kick as it bounced into goal. The Eels finished the half on the attack but went into the sheds trailing by 18-0.

Six minutes after the restart the Panthers were in again, the ball going through fast hands from right to left with To´o taking the final pass to go in from ten metres for his second of the evening. Cleary was again wide with his conversion attempt as the Eels continued to protest what they believed was an obstruction in the build up to the try.

On fifty-five Maika Sivo dropped the ball on the line when he looked certain to open the Eels account.

Just before the hour mark a jinking and dodging Charlie Staines took a great pass and went twenty metres to the line, sliding over on his back to ground one-handed. Cleary added his fourth goal of the game for 28-0, the game long over as a spectacle and it was now a matter of whether the Eels could register any points.

Nathan Cleary lost the ball in the act of scoring on sixty-eight, the Panthers leaving some points in the locker.

Clint Gutherson supported well to take the pass on the Penrith ten metre line and go over for the first Eels try on seventy-six. Mitchell Moses added the conversion for 6-28, Paramatta spared the ignominy of being nilled.

Within a couple of minutes, a Moses kick was chased down by Jakob Arthur who caught the ball under a tackle and dropped to the ground for the try. Moses was again on target with the boot. It was too little, too late for Paramatta.

The Panthers retained the trophy as they recorded back-to-back wins, only the second time that the Champions have defended their crown in NRL grand final history. Ignoring the blip in the last ten minutes, when the game was over as a contest, the Panthers put in a sublime performance in demolishing the Eels. The final score line looked closer than it should have done, Penrith totally dominant and cementing their name as the best over the last couple of years. Who´d bet against them making it a hat-trick in 2023.

Penrith Panthers: Edwards, Staines (T), Tago, Crichton (T), To´o (2T), Luai, Cleary (4G), Leota, Kenny, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Martin, Yeo.  Subs: Koroisau, Sorensen (T), Leniu, Salmon. 18th: O´Sullivan. 

Paramatta Eels: Gutherson (T), Sivo, Penisini, Simonsson, Blake, Brown, Moses (2T), Campbell-Gillard, Mahoney, Paulo, Lane, Papali´i, Niukore. Subs: Matterson, Brown, Arthur (T), Kaufusi. 18th:  Cartwright.

Half-Time: 18-0.  

Full-Time: 28-12.

Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 16-0, 18-0 : HT : 22-0, 26-0, 28-0, 28-4, 28-6, 28-10, 28-12 : FT.

Lead Exchanges: Penrith.

Referee: Ashley Klein.  




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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 2nd Oct 2022 11:31 AM | Views : 3651 | Replies : 1 | BACK TO STORIES
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