PANTHERS 14-8 RABBITS
Penrith opened the deadlock with 14 minutes remaining as Stephen Crichton rushed off the line to intercept a pass from Cody Walker and run away for the first down.
Walker had picked Dane Gagai for a six-point runaway as he spotted the Origin running towards a hole, but Crichton spotted him as well.
The 21-year-old weapon latched onto Walker’s pass to put the Panthers ahead in the grand final.
GUS explodes during “stupid anomaly”
Penrith successfully backed up his second captain’s challenge in the Grand Final as a decision against Spencer Leniu was recalled over a technicality Phil Gould described as “stupid.”
Souths lost their captain’s challenge when Adam Reynolds was tackled by Spencer Leniu in the fifth tackle. Reynolds kicked the ball and was greeted by Leniu, the ball shooting the Panthers’ accessory into touch.
“It’s stupidity in the rules, and absolute stupidity in the rules, and it’s a technical detail that you don’t want to bring out now. If he passed the ball in his arm, making a tackle, it’s still six. The fact that he hit it, it must still be six.
PANTHERS 8-8 RABBITS
South Sydney must fight for the remainder of the 2021 NRL Grand Finals without Home State Enforcement Officer Jai Arrow.
The boom forward failed an HIA assessment right after halftime, leaving Wayne Bennett strapped for options on his bench.
News of Arrow came just as Penrith appeared to be taking another lead thanks to Viliame Kikau, but his try was called off for a forward pass.
Souths evened the scores just after half-time in the Grand Final as Adam Reynolds reversed a goal from the penalty spot following a Penrith ruck violation.
HALF TIME: PANTHERS 8-6 RABBITS
The Panthers took their second lead of the night thanks to Nathan Cleary’s boot as he scored a penalty in the 33rd minute.
The first half was a frantic one with Matt Burton and Cody Walker exchanging tries in the opening 20 minutes, while Dane Gagai and the Bunnies survived an early HIA alert.
The Panthers dominated possession (60% -40%) and territory in the first half, but were unable to get the Bunnies to pay more on the scoreboard.
TO TRY! PANTHERS 6-6 RABBITS
The Rabbitohs equalized their man of the moment Cody Walker on the quarter-mark, canceling Matt Burton’s game opener.
Walker’s try revealed the Panthers’ number one concern, the foot injury of Dylan Edwards, who was unable to put his feet up in defense.
“He was so easily taken on the back end by Cody Walker and actually twisted awkwardly,” said Phil Gould.
TO TRY! PANTHERS 6-0 RABBITS
Penrith superstar Matt Burton broke through first after a perfect play on the Panthers left edge that revealed the Bunnies’ biggest weakness.
Burton, who was brought to the side as a makeshift center and then made part of the Dally M Team of the Year, went through a gaping hole to open the scoring.
It came after Rabbitohs home state veteran Dane Gagai left the pitch for an HIA assessment after lowering his head in a tackle.
This forced Wayne Bennett to deploy veteran playmaker Benji Marshall earlier than he expected.
THE PANTHERS WIN THE TT CHALLENGE
Penrith successfully launched a captain’s challenge early after Jarome Luai was initially tried for kicking the ball.
It was a risky game on the fourth tackle, but the Panthers saw the decision overturned only to advance the ball 10 yards on the last one.
Phil Gould described it as a “frenzied opening of the game” while Andrew Johns questioned the decision to bet on a challenge less than three minutes into the game.
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Souths skipper Adam Reynolds has been named to play his final game for the club after suffering a groin injury all week.
Reynolds will leave the club to join Brisbane, and it is in his new home at Suncorp Stadium that he will sign a Rabbitoh.
It is also Wayne Bennett’s last game at the helm of Souths, with the super coach hoping to clinch his eighth title as a freshman coach.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary is desperate to avenge last year’s loss as he sets off in search of his elusive first PM post on his third attempt.
PANTHERS 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Stephen Crichton 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Matt Burton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 17. Liam Martin 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo 11. Viliame Kikau 14. Tyrone May 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 18th man: 18. Brent Naden
RABBITS 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dane Gagai 4. Campbell Graham 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Mark Nicholls 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Cameron Murray 14. Benji Marshall 15. Jacob Host 16. Thomas Burgess 17. Jai Arrow 18th man 19. Patrick Mago
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HOW TO WATCH
Live coverage of the Grand Final begins on Fox League at 12:15 p.m. AEDT.
The NRL Grand Final (7:30 p.m.) will be broadcast live on Channel 9, which will also broadcast the NRL Grand Final.
You can watch a replay of the Grand Final on Fox League at 10 p.m. ET.
If you can’t watch the game, foxsports.com.au will have you covered with continuous coverage throughout the day.
Arbitrator: Gérard Sutton; Line officials: Dave Munro, Todd Smith; Video referee: Grant Atkins.
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