This Saturday night the Penrith Panthers are set to host the Sydney Roosters in what should be an interesting contest as the home side are looking to break back into the top eight with the defending premiers looking for three straight titles, meaning both will want to make a serious impact from the outset in 2020.
There may be a bit of a divide now but back in 2003 that these two teams were the NRL’s crème de la crème.
Similar to 2020, in 2003 the clubs were heading into the season on vastly different sides of the spectrum as the Roosters were the defending premiers, with the Panthers coming off of a 12th placed finish in 2002.
Things continued to look bleak for the mountain men, winning just one of their first three games. However they would win 13 of their next 14 games cementing themselves as genuine title contenders and go on to win the minor premiership.
It was business as usual for the Roosters winning five of their first six to start the season, with their one loss coming via the Panthers in round four.
The defending premiers headed into the final series in good form having won eight of their last nine games.
Both clubs would go through the finals series undefeated before meeting in the Grand Final for the first time in history.
The Panthers may have been minor premiers but certainly were not favourites as the Roosters had much more experience in big game situations then any of the Panthers who had just one player to have ever played in a Grand Final before.
That man’s name is Luke Priddis who won the Clive Churchill Medal. Priddis produced one of the most dominant individual grand finals performances ever seen, scoring a try and setting up the other two for his team as Penrith would win 18-6.
There were certainly some notable moments in this one including Priddis’ dominance, Craig Gower playing on with a swollen eye after having it gouged and of course the famous tackle Scott Sattler made on Todd Byrne that prevented the Roosters from levelling the game.
The Penrith Panthers and Sydney Roosters have faced off many times since then including a qualifying final in 2014 that again saw the underdog Panthers overcome the defending premiers the Roosters 19-18.
Hopefully we have a game just as intense this Saturday night.