And now we’re down to two… The Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels will go at it in the 2022 NRL Grand Final following their Preliminary Final wins.

Eels Slip Past Cowboys

The Parramatta Eels are through to the NRL Grand Final.

The concerns around their consistency in September appear unwarranted. Doubts around Brad Arthur’s ability to take this team beyond Week 2 of the NRL Finals have gone. Now, they’re 80 minutes away from ending one of the great premiership droughts.

While the North Queensland Cowboys played the better footy in the first half, the Eels flicked a switch at the break. They improved on their 61% completion rate, started to connect with their offloads, and proved to be ridiculously efficient on the rare occasions they were allowed to attack the Cowboys line.

Will Penisini’s early try came from a forward pass but Todd Payten acknowledged that it occurred early enough in the game for the Cowboys to bounce back. In fact, they played with an eight-point lead and looked comfortable at one stage in the second half. However, a second try for Reagan Campbell-Gillard, one for Maika Sivo and a well-crafted end to the match resulted in a 24-20 Eels win.

Panthers: Too Good

The Penrith Panthers are well on their way to being one of the most dominant teams in the NRL era.

Making a third Grand Final and doing so with relative ease, Ivan Cleary’s side will enter the decider as heavy favourites.

While the South Sydney Rabbitohs started well and built a 12-0 lead, the Panthers didn’t panic. They stuck to the processes that have worked so well over the last three years and trusted their ability to play the full 80 minutes. In the end, Penrith was able to grind down their opposition. They dominated the yardage battle to run for 2,063, finished up with five line breaks to South Sydney’s two, missed far fewer tackles, and ended up at their usual 52% possession despite the early struggles.

There isn’t a weakness in this Panthers outfit. Not an obvious one, anyway. The Eels will have a week to identify any but still need to expose them on the day. Entering the Preliminary Finals as $1.80 favourites and now $1.35 and -8.5 favourites on Sunday, the Panthers are expected to win their second-consecutive NRL Grand Final.

An Early Look At The NRL Grand Final

We still have a week of hype, drama and manufactured controversy before kickoff. However, there is an opportunity for punters to get into the game early.

As mentioned already, the Panthers are fairly heavy $1.35 and -8.5 favourites for Sunday.

Points will be at a premium with the total set at 37.5.

Taylan May will return and has been installed as the most likely try scorer at $1.93. Brian To’o ($2.03), Maika Sivo ($2.45) and Izack Tago ($2.70) round out the first four lines of betting.

The Panthers deserve their favouritism but the Eels match up well against the defending premiers. They’ve beaten them twice already this season and will have learned a lot from their Week 1 defeat. Reagan Campbell-Gillard acknowledged that Parramatta took the wrong approach in that one and tried to beat Penrith at their own game. Since then, we’ve seen the blue and gold play to their strengths and pick up back-to-back wins.

It’s early days, but Parramatta’s +8.5 appeals.

Eels Double Up On Grand Final Day

The Parramatta Eels NRLW side won just one game in the regular season but managed to sneak into the semi-finals.

Against a Sydney Roosters side that has been the best in the competition since winning the 2021 premiership earlier this year, the Eels pulled off a massive upset to win 24-10. It all came together for the Eels who played their best game of the year as the Roosters played their worst.

Those that have seen the Eels play throughout the year knew they were a better team than their 1-4 record suggested. They had been improving every week and it has culminated in an appearance in the NRLW Grand Final.

The Eels will face the highly fancied Newcastle Knights in the big one. While the Knights are likely to enter as heavy favourites, we know already that anything is possible on the day.

For the Eels, Sunday will be one of the biggest days in the history of the club.