All is in readiness for the Panthers to go back to back but can the Eels cause an upset?
BetDeluxe analyses both teams and gives you the best tips for this Sunday night’s decider.
Penrith vs. Parramatta
October 2nd 7:30pm
You couldn’t get a better match-up for this week’s Grand Final than Parramatta and Penrith.
The league’s dominant force over the last two years who have proven themselves over and over again, coming up against their old rivals who have taken on various challenges and history to win their way through.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has his team firing on all cylinders after a masterclass of player management that ensures they are more than fresh going into the decider.
Though it hasn’t all been entirely smooth for Cleary and his charges, conceding the first 12 points to South Sydney last week as an upset looked like a chance.
Cleary calmly readjusted a few tactics and positional moves that turned things around soon enough. It will be interesting to see how those changed tactics might be replicated this week; if so, look to a strong performance from Apisai Koroisau, who may be seen on the pitch earlier after having a solid impact on the game when he entered last week.
But when it comes to who the Eels are planning for, there is one name at the top of the board, and they have already made it clear he has been central to his plans.
Nathan Cleary has been unstoppable since returning from a late-season suspension – his elite kicking and playmaking have been the key reason behind Penrith’s success, and there is no coincidence Parramatta have brought in the brute force of Nathan Brown after more than three months out of the line-up.
Parramatta has already flagged that Brown will have eyes for Cleary, and it seems the fireworks won’t be contained to the half-time entertainment. Watch this space.
Whatever output Cleary has, he has a solid support cast around him, with Isaah Yeo and Brian To’o set to cause headaches around the pitch. Villiame Kikau is another who is primed for a big occasion, having already committed to this being his final game as a Panther.
The Eels need to do more than give Cleary some physical attention if they are to pull off an upset win here.
Mitch Moses is a consistent performer and has a way of bringing teammates into the game. He needs to be at his best early to unsettle the reigning premiers. In contrast, Waqa Blake needs to shake off some of the inconsistency that has plagued him recently, especially the underwhelming performance produced against the Panthers in week one.
Blake can get the score ticking over and only needs a small opportunity to break the game open. At the same time, Shaun Lane is another major factor for the Eels after a strong finals series to date, and it could well be worth a look around some markets involving him.
It will be a big ask for the Eels, despite an inspiring comeback win over North Queensland last week. Not only are they up against the powerhouse of the competition at the moment, who have been strong flag favourites for as long as anyone can remember, but there is a certain pressure that comes with the 36-year premiership drought that has been the subject of much commentary.
Unfortunately for them, the drought will likely last a little longer, with the Panthers likely to get the job done convincingly this Sunday.
Suggested Bet: Penrith -8.5 at $1.89
Same Game Multi:
Leg 1: C. Staines Anytime
Leg 2: Penrith first score
Leg 3: Penrith/ Penrith Double
Leg 3: Penrith to win by 13+
Total Odds: $5.25