And this week it really is succinct, because there’s only one bloody game!
Well friends, Nico Hynes has a Dally M around his neck thanks to a record-breaking vote tally, the Cowboys are playing golf and the Rabbitohs are crying foul about being sledged by Penrith trainers, which must mean it’s time for the…
2022 NRL GRAND FINALLLLL!
And what an epic match-up to decide the Provan-Summons trophy for this year, with Penrith and Parramatta carrying the potential to annihilate half of Western Sydney’s population, as the rampaging Panthers sit on the precipice of the second premiership repeat of the NRL era behind the 2018-19 Roosters, and the Eels have scored themselves a rare chance to end the longest active premiership drought in the league at 36 years, with this being only their third Grand Final appearance since the 1986 premiership, which ended in the lowest scoring decider in league history at 4-2.
The first defeat was 2001, when they soiled themselves for 50 minutes against Newcastle and lost 30-24, a cruel end after producing the greatest attacking season the game has ever seen.
And their latest appearance prior to Sunday was in 2009, when they went from 14th to 8th in the last 2 months of the season thanks mainly to the freakish play of Jarryd Hayne, then became the only team go from 8th to a Grand Final, only for the fairytale to end as they lost 23-16 to a Melbourne Storm team that cheated the salary cap so profusely, they were made to repeat Year 4 mathematics.
Halfway through the 2nd Half on Friday night you could’ve been forgiven for pencilling in North Queensland to possibly take on Penrith when the Cowboys led 20-12 at home against a team that hadn’t won a Prelim Final in 13 years, but the Cowboys forgot games go for 80 minutes, and the Eels made them pay to get the long overdue result that Brad Arthur had been praying for….
Not that Penrith were out of danger either, as Souths led 12-0 early on Saturday evening, but after being denied 5 tries by The Bunker, Api Korisau broke the ice just before half time, and once Cam Murray spilled that ball straight into the waiting arms of Brian To’o right on the half, it was all over bar the shouting and the second 40 minutes was just a waste of energy…
Would’ve saved Taane Milne a 6-week suspension as well for that cheap shot.
So as I’ve mentioned 40 times, it’s a Battle of the Westies, and the last time we had 2 teams from Western Sydney in the Grand Final was that aforementioned 1986 decider, when Parramatta defeated Canterbury 4-2 in the final farewell for Ray Price and Mick Cronin.
Of course, the Eels won both regular season matchups against the Panthers, 22-20 in Round 9 to end Penrith’s 21-game winning run at Panthers Stadium, 34-10 in Round 20 as Nathan Cleary was sent off for a spear tackle and suspended for 5 games, before Cleary and a host of players returned in time for the rematch in the Qualifying Final, and the Panthers dry licked the Eels 27-8.
In other news, a forgotten facet (Outside of Penrith) of Sunday’s Grand Final is that the Panthers are going for one of the rarest achievements in rugby league, by winning the SG Ball, the Under 21s, Reserve Grade and First Grade crowns in the same season…
They won the SG Ball Cup 22-20 against the Roosters, and last Sunday, the Panthers won the Jersey Flegg Cup 19-18 in Extra Time against Newcastle, they won the NSW Cup 29-22 against Canterbury, and now there’s only the NRL to conquer.
The last club to even claim 3 of those titles in the same season was Balmain in 1982, when they won Reserve Grade, Jersey Flegg and SG Ball, but never got close to the finals in First Grade.
At the same time, the Eels are going to have a chance to become the first team to win both the NRL and NRLW titles in the same season, because earlier on Sunday afternoon the Eels’ women are going to be playing the Newcastle Knights in the NRLW Grand Final, which will be the last game on ANZ Stadium prior to the Panthers-Eels.
Now, time for the lucky last Random Pick of the NRL season, which means it’s time to end this season on a dour note….
Preliminary Final score: 1/2
Progressive Score After Preliminary Finals: 144/203 (70.9%), without Origin games 143/200 (71.5%)
Grand Final Pick:
And for the last Succinct Random Pick of 2022, ladies, get your undies ready to toss at the stage, because this well-known Welsh gentleman is predicting Back-to-Back Premierships for the Penrith Pussycats, COULD YOU PLEASE WELCOME, SIR TOM JONES!
Alternatively, if the Eels spring the upset, here’s one I haven’t used all year for Parramatta – Phil Collins with Another Day In PARRA-DISE!
Shower thought – If Taylan May had immediately started his assault suspension from the NRL before the Qualifying Final, he’d never have been suspended against the Eels, and would probably be playing on Sunday.