As Penrith watched everyone from the top of the competition ladder, questions were asked as to whether they had peaked too soon
Surely a team that had lost only once, long ago in the fifth round, was going to experience a drop in form at some point?
And yet Ivan Cleary, facing a trainer who knows something about timing your race, ensured that her men produced an equally convincing performance as the 16 that came before her.
It’s fitting that the best team of the year will play in the final game The Panthers needed to keep their cool to make it happen Despite all of their early dominance, they had to hang on to a four-point lead to the last 13 minutes South Sydney was not allowed to be so close
« Penrith should be 40 with the opportunities she’s had, » Andrew Johns said in a comment for Nine
For the Panthers, a relatively inexperienced Finals team, it was all about keeping their cool Opportunity got the better of both sides on occasion Sniper Adam Reynolds missed what was for him a regulation shot on goal The captain’s challenges were exhausted before the end of the first quarter And both teams dropped what was a slippery Steeden at regular intervals
When Corey Allan, playing on one leg for most of the night, scored late in the proceedings, the Mountain men did well to hang on to the most powerful offensive team in the game.
The Rabbitohs deserve huge credit for being so close They were plagued with injuries and cruel luck, like when Reynolds was approaching terribly a 40-20 But in the end they paid the price for to have lost the battle in advance
There was also a battle of minds involved.The mind games started when the Rabbitoh beat the Eels and continued until kickoff Wayne Bennett claimed he did hadn’t watched Penrith play all year This same Wayne Bennett didn’t tell Phil Gould about the Panthers’ job; and claimed Jed Cartwright will replace injured center Campbell Graham
There was more subterfuge when Bayley Sironen was appointed center, only for Cameron Murray to take the job It wasn’t until Sironen limped with injury that everyone returned to their positions
Ivan Cleary was no slouch He took a controversial switch of his own, bench center Brent Naden for Tyrone May This bet paid off
Every time Nathan Cleary gave a kick, May was in pursuit of him The no14 got his reward when he picked up his team’s second try doing just that
The Rabbitoh’s spine took its toll at the edges over the past month against outside full-backs who rushed quickly in defense The three-quarterback Panthers instead held onto their position and slipped when Cody Walker tried to outdo them in numbers, using the sideline as an additional defender The scheme proved successful, ensuring that Cleary’s men were never taken aback
There was also no space in midfield Damien Cook was at his best the week before, constantly catching tired Parramatta scorers Against the Panthers, there were few opportunities to run
And so if Bennett wants to get a prime ministerial post at Redfern, he only has one season to do so
The Panthers, meanwhile, must show why they were the team to beat from the start
Penrith Panthers, South Sydney Rabbitohs, National Rugby League, Ivan Cleary, NRL Grand Final
World News – AU – Panthers win physical and mental battles to make decisions
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