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Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm
NRL Grand Final
|ANZ Stadium, Sydney|
|To'o 54', Crichton 69', Mansour 73'||Tries||Olam 4', Vunivalu 31', C. Smith 40', Papenhuyzen 46'|
|Cleary 54', 70'||Goals||C. Smith 5', 23', 27', 32', 40'|
The Melbourne Storm have won the NRL grand final on the back of a superb first half, defeating the Penrith Panthers to claim the 2020 premiership.
Melbourne Storm 26
Penrith Panthers 20
The NRL grand final will be decided tonight as the Penrith Panthers take on the Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:30pm (AEDT).
For any number of reasons, it’s been a crazy season. But we are finally here, the grand final. Will it be the Penrith Panthers, shooting for 18 wins in a row, or the vastly more experienced Melbourne Storm?
One thing is certain. It should be a cracker.
Penrith come into the grand final after a tense 20-16 win over South Sydney. The Panthers dominated the first 40 minutes and should have held a bigger lead at the break. However, uncharacteristic handling errors hampered their progress and it took an Isaah Yeo line-break late in the game to give the Panthers some breathing space.
With wet weather predicted, Nathan Cleary’s kicking game will be crucial tonight. The back three come into the final in great form, with Dylan Edwards almost faultless.
The Panther pack’s ability to match their Storm opponents will be critical to the Panthers’ success.
In a big in for the Panthers, Viliame Kikau returns from suspension in the back row, forcing Kurt Capewell to the bench and Mitch Kenny out of the 17. Brent Naden has been named to start in the centres with Tyrone May on the bench.
The Melbourne Storm blew the Raiders off the park in the first 15 minutes of their preliminary final. It was near flawless football. Canberra never really recovered and the final 30-10 scoreline was a fair indication of the difference between the two sides.
Camerons Smith and Munster had solid games, but they were overshadowed by the brilliance of Jahrome Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen. The strength of the Storm pack is well known, but the team has adjusted well to the faster ruck speed and their back three are dynamic in attack.
The Storm go in with an unchanged 17. Brandon Smith copped a head knock against the Raiders but is expected to play.
The Melbourne Storm go in as slight favourites here, and rightfully so. Their form last weekend and the experienced nature of their squad make them difficult to pick against.
But I’m going for an upset. On a greasy ANZ Stadium surface, Cleary’s kicking game will keep turning around the big Melbourne pack, much like James Maloney did in 2016.
The Panthers have plenty of firepower and, with the territory split in their favour, they will do enough to just win.
Penrith Panthers by two.
Kick-off: 7:30pm (AEDT)
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Live stream: 9Now
Odds: Panthers $2.20, Storm $1.72
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Brent Naden 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo
Interchange: 14. Tyrone May 15. Kurt Capewell 16. Moses Leota 17. Zane Tetevano
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Dale Finucane 17. Nicholas Hynes