Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels have been long-time rivals due to the short distance between the two suburbs, with the two clubs putting their pride on the line every time they play for bragging rights in Western Sydney.
However, tonight they play for more than just local pride, as the loser will be eliminated from the 2021 NRL competition and the winner will advance to the Preliminary Final against the reigning and minor premiers in the Melbourne Storm.
Penrith copped a huge blow prior to the game, with New South Wales State of Origin winger Brian To’o being ruled out, with Brent Naden coming in to fill his place.
Penrith were strong to start, playing for field position with some ferocious defence pinning Parramatta down in their own half of the field, however; ten minutes into the first half Dylan Edwards let a bomb towards him bounce as Waqa Blake soared through and scooped up the ball for the first try of the game.
Cleary finds Capewell to help the Panthers level the score! 💪
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Six minutes later Penrith managed to even the game up as Brisbane bound second rower Kurt Capewell crashed over to put the Panthers on the scoreboard.
The rest of the first half was very hard to watch if you are a Penrith supporter, with the mountain men making multiple errors that were easily avoidable, not too dissimilar to what they came up with in the last 20 minutes against the South Sydney Rabbitohs last week, although the Panthers were able to take the lead at halftime when Nathan Cleary kicked a penalty goal after the siren to make the scores 8-6.
For the next 30 minutes the game went back and forth, with some great defensive efforts from both sides, and especially from Parramatta on their own goalline on multiple occasions, but errors often stuffed out their momentum, which can be said for Penrith too, but the Panthers would hold on to win 8-6.
Penrith now has a meeting with the defending and minor premiers in the Melbourne Storm in next week’s Preliminary Final, with the winner going through to the 2021 NRL Grand Final.
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