Kick-off: 0930, 02/10/2022
Stadium: Accor Stadium
TV: Sky Sports
Penrith are strongly fancied to make it back-to-back NRL Grand Final wins by brushing aside Parramatta at Accor Stadium in Sydney.
The Eels won both regular-season meetings this term, but the Panthers still topped the table and are rated the superior team in almost all key departments.
We’re taking 10/11 for the favourites to prevail by more than eight points for our first NRL Grand Final prediction.
Penrith Panthers Odds
Penrith are competing in their third straight Grand Final after losing 26-20 to Melbourne and then shading Souths 14-12.
The Panthers began this season in superb form, winning 16 of their first 17 matches, before a five-match ban for star scrum-half Nathan Cleary prompted a late slip.
However, Cleary returned in time to be man of the match as the Panthers eased past Parramatta 27-8 in the first round of play-off fixtures.
He was again outstanding when Souths were crushed 32-12 in the preliminary finals and is expected to control proceedings once more this weekend.
It is hard to find a weakness in this Panthers team, which boasts a number of potential match-winners but also isn’t afraid to do the dirty work in defence.
Cleary is the puppet master pulling all the strings, while half-back partner Jarome Luai loves to pop up with crucial plays going forward.
Full-back Dylan Edwards is as solid as a rock, while the power of back-row forward Viliame Kikau is a constant threat.
Lock Isaah Yeo, winger Brian To’o, second rower Liam Martin, hooker Apisai Koroisau and centre Stephen Crichton all featured for New South Wales in this year’s State of Origin series.
Looking at the 7/10 for them to lead at half-time and full-time also appeals.
Parramatta Eels Odds
Parramatta can take heart from May’s 22-20 triumph over Penrith and a 34-10 victory at the end of July, when Cleary was sent off.
The Eels also accounted for Melbourne twice as they finished fourth in the table with 16 wins, four behind the Panthers.
After finding Penrith too strong in their qualifying final clash, Parramatta bounced back with a 40-4 thrashing of Canberra.
Brad Arthur’s side then overcame a hostile home crowd to win 24-20 at North Queensland and qualify for their first Grand Final since 2009.
However, that was an error-strewn contest well below the level of Penrith’s semi-final success and ending a 36-year wait for title glory may be beyond them.
Lively scrum-half Mitchell Moses, classy full-back Clint Gutherson, feisty winger Maika Sivo and 6ft 6in forward Shaun Lane are capable of magical moments.
Overall, though, we just believe Penrith are a cut above in this match-up – completing more sets in a clinical manner and being quicker at the play-the-ball.
Add on the big-match experience gained during seven wins out of nine in the play-offs since 2020 and the Panthers are hard to oppose.
Let’s go with 5/1 for the defending champions to win by 11-15 points for our final Penrith vs Parramatta prediction.
PENRITH 32-12 South Sydney
North Queensland 20-24 PARRAMATTA
Head-to-head: Penrith 27-8 Parramatta, Parramatta 34-10 Penrith, Penrith 20-22 Parramatta
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