The 2020 NRL season has been one nobody will ever forget, but finally, the Grand Final teams have been set following two exciting prelims.
And Then There Were Two…
There we have it.
The 2020 NRL Grand Final is set: Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers.
The Storm handled the Canberra Raiders with relative ease to win 30-10 and book a place in the Grand Final. A superb opening 10 minutes allowed Melbourne to fly out to a 16-0 lead and they finished the job from there.
Clinical from the Storm in the end. Started on fire before playing patient and high-percentage footy from there.
They’re a pleasure to watch when in this sort of form.
I’ll need to see something special tomorrow if I’m going to remove them as my pick to win the GF.
— Jason Oliver (@JasonNRL) October 16, 2020
While made to work a little harder for their 20-16 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the Panthers always looked in control. The maturity and composure put this young team in good stead ahead of their clash with arguably the best team over the last decade. Patient and sticking to a gameplan, they eventually broke the game wide open when Isaah Yeo found some space in behind the ruck in the 66th minute before sending Dylan Edwards over under the posts.
Penrith will enter the Grand Final on a 17 game winning streak. However, it’s Melbourne that enters as favourites. Led by Cameron Smith in what might be the last game of an incredible career, the Storm are $1.76 and -1.5 favourites early in the week.
Raiders: 2020 In The Rear View
The way Canberra lost in the preliminary final is what disappointed Ricky Stuart most.
To be within one game of the Grand Final and start so poorly isn’t what the Raiders have been about in 2020. Playing the full 80 minutes hasn’t been a problem for this side. Resilience and an ability to fight tooth and nail to the end has been a hallmark of their season.
But in 10 minutes on Friday, Melbourne poured straight through the Raiders defence and drowned the Green Machine’s dreams in the process.
I don’t mind what Ricky Stuart did last night. Took one question, said his piece and then walked out. Intense and emotional ending, added to the theatre of it all #nrl
— Phil Lutton (@phillutton78) October 16, 2020
While the scars of a poor performance are still fresh, they will heal to show a promising season overall. It looked all over when Josh Hodgson went down in Round 10. Few expected this group to rebound in a fashion that even put them in the conversation for back-to-back Grand Finals. When it’s all said and done for Stuart and the Raiders in 2020, they can be pleased with the overall result and go into 2021 with a deep side that knows what it takes to navigate their way deep into an NRL season.
Close, But Not Close Enough
It’s one of the great late-season runs, but the Rabbitohs came up short on Saturday night. In outstanding form with the ball in hand, Souths found their legs in defence to keep a rested and ready Penrith attack to just 20 points.
The problem for the Rabbitohs: 12 errors.
While the Panthers finished with one more, too many opportunities went begging for the Rabbitohs. You can’t throw the ball away that often when trying to break down the best defence in the NRL. Inopportune errors with pressure building is the major difference between Souths dressing up for Mad Monday instead of preparing for a photoshoot with the Provan-Summons Trophy.
Again, it’s another good season for Souths. With Jai Arrow to arrive in 2021 and some luck sure to come from the injury gods, Wayne Bennett will have a strong squad to work with in his final season with the club.
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