The 2020 NRL decider is here and we cannot wait for this mouth-watering clash! We have the minor premier Penrith Panthers looking for their first Grand Final victory since 2003. Meanwhile, Melbourne are playing in their 4th decider of the last 5 years. Can they send Cameron Smith off with another trophy? We’ll find out on Sunday night at ANZ Stadium in front of 40,000 fans.
Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm
Sunday October 25 | ANZ Stadium, Sydney | 7:30pm
The two best teams from the regular season meet in the 2020 NRL Grand Final.
Penrith have shown great resolve on their way to the Grand Final after two hard-fought victories over the Roosters and Rabbitohs in this finals series. In both wins, they’ve held off their opponent in their latter stages, showing their excellent defence that led them to the minor premiership. So they’ll be confident of continuing the same game plan against Melbourne. It all starts with the Panthers forward pack winning the field position battle and that’ll ease the pressure on the halves in Cleary and Luai. There’s also great news in team selections with Kikau returning from suspension, which ultimately strengthens their forward pack and edge attack. The Panthers will be looking to expose the defence of Hughes and Munster on the edges, which won’t be an easy task because they’re both able one on one defenders.
Meanwhile, the Melbourne Storm produced a stunning first-half display against the Raiders as they scored 3 tries in the first 10 minutes, which effectively ended the contest. Jesse Bromwich continued his good try-scoring record in finals, and Vunivalu scored in the corner from a brilliant solo effort. Dale Finucane also managed to find the try-line in his 200th NRL match and he successfully returned from injury at the perfect time. It was also good to see Cam Munster get through the game without any knee issues. So Melbourne’s attack is going to be the key in this Grand Final. They can really score from anywhere on the field but the Panthers do arguably own the best defence in the NRL. The other intriguing factor will be Cameron Smith and his ongoing retirement saga. If this is in fact his last NRL game, there’s no doubt the Storm players will know that and they’ll be fighting to give him one last trophy.
In team selections, the Storm are unchanged and the Panthers welcome back the important Kikau into their back row.
It’s fitting that the Panthers and Storm meet in the 2020 decider because they were simply the two best sides this season. In the only meeting of 2020, the Panthers were too good on that occasion in the 21-14 result at Campbelltown Stadium. However, the Storm were missing Jahrome Hughes and Josh Addo-Carr in that clash. Penrith also easily targeted Seve on the wing, which won’t be the case this time around. Ultimately, the Points Unders does have a great record in recent Grand Finals and these two teams are great defensively so we expect this to be another low scoring affair. The Points Unders is 5-1 in the last six Grand Finals. Melbourne is also 3-1 versus the Points Unders in their last four Grand Final appearances, including their 21-6 defeat in 2018 against the Roosters. Meanwhile, it was a long time ago, but the Panthers last Grand Final was a 18-6 result in 2003.
In the anytime try scorer markets, it’s hard to look past Josh Addo-Carr ($1.90) as he has scored in each of the last two Melbourne Grand Finals (2017 & 2018). We don’t mind the look of Suliasi Vunivalu ($2.10) in his last NRL game before moving to the Queensland Reds. On the Panthers wing, Brian Too ($2.25) is likely their best avenue to the try-line and crossed the line both last week and against the Storm in the last meeting. Josh Mansour ($2.30) has scored in 7 of his last 8 outings. Ryan Papenhuyzen ($2.50) scored last week and has crossed the line in 5 of his last 6 games when the Storm are favourites. One of the best outsiders could be Cameron Smith ($11.00), if you want to go down last game narrative. However, he’s probably a better play in the Churchill Medal markets, especially if you’re backing the Storm.
Enjoy the game!
Prediction: Under 36 Points @ $1.85