Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
This Saturday afternoon the Melbourne Storm will take on the Penrith Panthers in one of the most anticipated matchups of the 2021 NRL season.
Ever since these two teams faced off in a classic earlier this season in round three, fans have been clamouring for the 2020 NRL Grand Finalists to clash at full strength again.
Many believed that this game would take place in this year’s Grand Final; however, following the Panthers loss to South Sydney two weeks ago that was no longer possible.
Now the Storm and Panthers will have to play off just to make the Grand Final, with the loser being eliminated from the competition and failing to capitalise on an amazing year.
Somehow the tension between these two great clubs has risen even higher after the Storm have reportedly made allegations that the Panthers are planning to deliberately influence referee Bernard Sutton to favour them in Saturday’s game, according to Wide World of Sports reporter The Mole.
— NRL (@NRL) September 22, 2021
“We know what they (Penrith) are doing and we don’t like it – it has been noted,” said the Mole’s source at the Storm.
“Before our last game, there was a similar story in the Fairfax media so whoever is behind it is being very thorough.
“It is not something we are happy about before such a big game.”
Teams making allegations against their opponent ahead of and after big games is becoming a commonality now in the NRL, with Rabbitohs Wayne Bennett accusing the Panthers of executing illegal block plays to protect Nathan Cleary ahead of their meeting back in week one of the finals.
“The bottom line is we haven’t been able to get near Nathan and his kicks because we’re getting blocked,” Bennett said to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Our kick chasers are getting blocked by illegal blockers.
“He was untouched in that game. We couldn’t get near him.
“He [Cleary] was untouched in that [round 23] game. It’s been going on for a while and the game needs to address it, now that we’ve made it public.”
Bennett’s comments and his game plan managed to shake Penrith’s confidence and throw them off their game, leading to one of their worst performances of the year.