We will be treated with one of the most anticipated Grand Finals in NRL history on Sunday at ANZ Stadium as minor premiers Penrith Panthers clash with the Melbourne Storm.
The Panthers enter the Grand Final on the back of 17 consecutive matches, while the Storm will be looking to send their inspirational captain Cameron Smith out a winner in what looms as his final game.
Penrith Panthers Form
The Panthers are one win away from what may go down as one of the most incredible seasons ever seen in the NRL. Their 20-16 victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs in last weekend’s Preliminary Final was a record 17th win in a row.
A club proud of developing their own talent, the majority of current Panthers stars are local juniors who have played together for years. They are headlined by Nathan Cleary, James Fisher-Harris, Brent Naden, Stephen Crichton, Brian To'o and Jarome Luai.
Penrith have recorded one of the most dominant seasons ever seen in the NRL, winning 18 of their 20 regular season matches, with a single loss and one drawn game. They boasted a +299 points differential, and recording two brave victories in the finals over the Roosters and the Rabbitohs.
Penrith Panthers Team News
Viliame Kikau returns to the second-row following his suspension in Week 1 of the finals, pushing Luke Capewell to the bench and Liam Harris out of the side.
The Panthers team for Sunday can be found below:
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Brent Naden 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To'o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone May 15. Kurt Capewell 16.Moses Leota 17. Zane Tetevano 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Dean Whare 20. Matt Burton 21.Spencer Leniu
Melbourne Storm Form
Melbourne Storm have been the competition benchmark for nearly two decades. With their inspirational leader Cameron Smith set to play his final game for the club on Sunday, there will be no shortage of determination to claim another premiership.
Melbourne finished the 2020 regular season in second position on the ladder, and after overcoming a slow start to defeat the Eels in Week 1 of the finals, they didn’t offer the Raiders the same opportunity last week. Storm charged to a 24-0 lead before eventually walking away 30-10 winners.
Age has not seemed to weary their captain, with Cameron Smith showing he is still arguably the most influential player in the game. Smith has been controlling the middle with ease once again this season, freeing up his superstar playmakers Cameron Munster and Ryan Papenhuyzen.
Melbourne Storm Team News
Craig Bellamy has named an unchanged side following last week's win over the Raiders as the Storm search for their fourth premiership.
The Storm team list for Sunday can be found below:
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10.Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14.Brandon Smith 15. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 16. Dale Finucane 17. Nicholas Hynes 18. Tom Eisenhuth 19. Paul Momirovski 20. Tui Kamikamica 21. Ryley Jacks
Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm Head To Head
The Storm have dominated head-to-head matches over the Panthers, winning 26 of 35 games. The Panthers prevailed 21-14 winners in the only meeting between the two clubs this season.
Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm Betting Odds
The Storm are $1.72 to defeat the Panthers at $2.20 at bet365
, with the line set at -2 for the Storm ($1.90) and +2 for the Panthers ($1.90).
Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm Match Up
Two of the best hookers in the game collide as Cameron Smith and Api Koroisau go head to head. Two complete opposite playing styles, they still hold the same key to winning the 2020 premiership for their respective sides.
Smith needs no introduction. He has controlled the middle of the field in every game he has played in the NRL for well over a decade, and he will look to do the same again on Sunday.
On the other end of the field is Api Koroisau, a scheming, cheeky character who plays football the same way. Unlike Smith, he leaves the Panthers organisation to his halfback, with Koroisau an attacking hooker who prefers to run the ball and use his speed from dummy half.
Whichever hookers wins the battle is likely to have the biggest input into the final.
Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm Key Stats
- The Storm have won 74% of their matches against the Panthers
- The Panthers are aiming for their 18th consecutive victory.
- The Storm have lost both grand finals when wearing their alternate jerseys (2008 & 2018).
- Storm legend Cameron Smith could be playing in his final game.