And that’s all she wrote for the 2020 NRL season. It was one like no other, but some things remain the same as the Melbourne Storm reigns supreme.
Storm Seal Another One
The Melbourne Storm dynasty has added another Provan-Summons Trophy to the cabinet after beating the Penrith Panthers 26-20 in the 2020 NRL Grand Final.
Flying out of the blocks to stun the young Penrith side, Melbourne took control through a Justin Olam try in just the third minute. Tyrone May – who replaced Brent Naden in the centres before kickoff – gave away the penalty try to get things started. From there, the Storm rarely looked flustered.
Melbourne’s 22-0 lead gave them a buffer to start the second half. While their attack didn’t continue to pile up points, Penrith kept piling up errors to finish with 18 for the match.
They’ve been somewhat overshadowed this year but Storm have been one of my favourite teams ever to watch.
Hughes’ development has been unreal.
Smith is crazy.
Love watching Tino, NAS & Cheese go nuts.
Papenhuyzen is top tier.
Olam is a beast.
A great side.
— Jason Oliver (@JasonNRL) October 25, 2020
Nelson Asofa-Solomona made his presence felt in the middle through 118 metres and six tackle breaks. Christian Welch continued his stellar season with to lead all Storm forwards with 132 running metres for the match. However, it was Ryan Papenhuyzen that stole the show and kept Cameron Smith one Clive Churchill Medal short of a possible fairy tale finish.
With 210 running metres, a try, a line break and a line break assist, Papenhuyzen looked dangerous all night. His speed became too much for the Panthers to handle on the edges as he played a key part in getting the Storm up the field and into try-scoring positions.
The 26-20 final score somewhat flatters the Panthers. They weren’t that close for much of the game and two sin-bin’s late in the piece, as well as a try with three seconds left to play, allowed them to add some respectability to the scoreboard.
While looking like deer in headlights as the Storm overawed them to start, the Panthers can take plenty out of this game and 2020 overall.
Whether they were truly the best team throughout the period or not, winning 17 games in a row is an impressive feat. It’s one that puts the Panthers in a prime position to go one better in 2021. So too does the fact that Tyrone May and James Tamou are the only two players from the Panthers Grand Final squad not signed with the club for next season.
Penrith are young and have elite players in key playmaking positions. Next year, they will have the added motivation of a Grand Final loss.
With the game fairly one-sided and Melbourne looking likely from the start, the focus of fans turned to the horror show in the commentary box. Richard Hinds of the ABC nailed the overwhelming feeling of those unfortunate enough to have sat through it:
Decided not to watch the game and just listened to the Nine commentary. Congratulations Penrith Panthers on your 94-2 victory over the disappointing Storm.#NRLGF
— Richard Hinds (@rdhinds) October 25, 2020
State of Origin Odds
The footy isn’t over yet!
State of Origin kicks off on November 4 with the New South Wales Blues heavy $1.30 and -7.5 favourites to handle the Queensland Maroons with relative ease in Game 1.
The Queensland squad is down on big names. However, they have one of the biggest in the coaches box: Wayne Bennett. Can the master coach pull off a miracle?
The biggest miracle of them all – a 3-0 sweep – can be had for $26 in the build up to this one.