Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
In what might have been the most anticipated game of the season, the Melbourne Storm took on the Penrith Panthers this afternoon for a spot in the 2021 NRL Grand Final.
These two teams met in last year’s Grand Final which was an eventful affair, with the Storm going up 26-0 before the Panthers staged a comeback and almost got the win, with the full-time score ending up 26-20.
Penrith would get their revenge in round three at BlueBet Stadium, in what many believe was the match of the year, when the Panthers scored a minute before full-time to defeat the defending premiers 12-10.
Melbourne would then deal an injury ravaged Penrith side a massive blow in round 20, beating them 37-10, but fans were ready to see another blockbuster in this Preliminary Final.
Just over two in a half minutes into the game, Nathan Cleary put up a cross field kick on Melbourne’s tryline to Stephen Crichton who was unmarked and simply caught the ball and put it down.
— NRL (@NRL) September 25, 2021
The following 15 minutes would be dominated by the Panthers, with all the ball down Melbourne’s end of the field; however, the momentum would shift back and forth for the rest of the half with Penrith’s goal line defence holding strong, and the Storm down to 15 men with Christian Welch and Brandon Smith both failing their Head Injury Assessments in the first half.
Penrith went into the sheds with a slim 6-0 lead at half-time, with everything still to play for.
In a similar start to the first half, Penrith would go over in the corner through Brian To’o in the early stages of the second stanza to extend the Panthers lead.
Melbourne would finally score with 17 minutes to go in the game after Ryan Papenhuyzen dove on a perfectly placed grubber from Cameron Munster.
Penrith would hold on and win in an absolute blockbuster and qualify for back to back Grand Finals, with the full-time score 10-6.
They will take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs next Sunday on the NRL’s biggest stage to determine who will be the 2021 NRL Premiers.