Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The Parramatta Eels gutsy win over the Melbourne Storm last Thursday cemented a top-four finish for Brad Arthur’s side for the second time since 2005.
While the Eels can mathematically finish third it is safe to say that they won’t, as for that to happen the North Queensland Cowboys would have to lose to an under-strength Penrith Panthers side by 123 points.
So this means that the Eels will travel to Penrith to take on their local rivals in the first round of the finals in what is sure to be a sell-out.
However, not everyone is happy about the game being hosted at BlueBet Stadium as Brent Read has written an article for The Daily Telegraph alongside Phil “Buzz” Rothfield blasting the NRL for not moving this blockbuster clash to Accor Stadium.
“Rugby league is about to lock out thousands of fans to play a finals game in an archaic stadium that is on the verge of being ripped down,” said Read.
“At least 20,000 people will be turned away.
“Maybe more, it gets better.
— Brent Read (@brentread_7) September 2, 2022
“Penrith supporters will no doubt get the lion’s share of tickets and Parramatta fans will have to scrounge around for what is left.
“Rugby league should hang its head in shame.
“The desire to appease a minority of fans by playing finals at suburban grounds will come at a cost – to the thousands of fans the game seeks to satiate.”
Before 2019 Read’s suggestion of having this game take place at Accor Stadium would have been the case but since then the NRL has allowed the fixtures for the first week of the finals to take place at the higher-seeded team’s home venue no matter where that may be.
From the second week of the finals onwards though home finals are still moved accordingly to accommodate bigger attendances.
During this time the Panthers have hosted a final in Penrith once when they beat the Sydney Roosters in an all-time classic at BlueBet Stadium in the first week of the 2020 NRL finals series in front of a severely reduced crowd due to restrictions caused by the COVID pandemic.