2020 NRL Grand Final

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The 2020 NRL Grand Final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding game of the 2020 National Rugby League season played at Sydney's ANZ Stadium. The match was contested between minor premiers Penrith Panthers and second-placed Melbourne Storm.[1] The Storm led the game 22–0 at half time before holding off a late Panthers comeback to win 26–20, claiming their fourth premiership title. Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal as the official man of the match. The match was attended by 37,303 spectators due to an enforced limit to stadium capacity by the NSW government as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.

The match was preceded by the 2020 NRL Women's Premiership Grand Final, where the Brisbane Broncos defeated the Sydney Roosters 20–10 to win their third premiership title in succession, and their second Grand Final win against the Roosters after the teams met in the inaugural NRLW Grand Final in 2018.[2]

Pre-match entertainment was headlined by Australian indie pop singer Amy Shark.[3] The match was broadcast live throughout Australia by the Nine Network.

Background[edit source | edit]

It was the first time the Penrith Panthers and the Melbourne Storm met in an NRL Grand Final, and in a finals match in general. The Panthers were awarded the minor premiership for the third time in the club's history, and were aiming to secure a third premiership; the Panthers having secured both titles in 1991 and 2003.[4] It was Ivan Cleary's second Grand Final appearance as a coach, having led the New Zealand Warriors to a 10–24 loss against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in 2011.[5] It was the Storm's fourth Grand Final appearance in five years, winning the 2017 premiership and runners-up in 2016 and 2018.[6]

Penrith and Melbourne finished first and second respectively on the regular season ladder. The two sides previously met at Campbelltown Stadium in round 6, with the Panthers defeating the Storm 21–14.[7] As a result of restrictions imposed by the Victorian Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, the Storm were forced to play the remainder of the season outside their home state, with the club winning their home games at Kogarah Oval and Suncorp Stadium, before playing their remaining six home games at Sunshine Coast Stadium, which all resulted in wins.[8] Both sides won their respective Qualifying Finals: the Panthers narrowly defeated the reigning premiers Sydney Roosters 29–28 at Panthers Stadium, and the Storm beating Parramatta Eels 36–24 at Suncorp Stadium.[9][10] In the subsequent Preliminary Finals, the Storm would go on to defeat 2019 runners-up Canberra Raiders 30–10 at Suncorp Stadium, with the Panthers defeating the South Sydney Rabbitohs 20–16 at ANZ Stadium.[11][12]

Teams[edit source | edit]

Position Melbourne
Dylan Edwards Fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen
Josh Mansour Wing Suliasi Vunivalu
Stephen Crichton Centre Justin Olam
Tyrone May Centre Brenko Lee
Brian To'o Wing Josh Addo-Carr
Jarome Luai Five-eighth Cameron Munster
Nathan Cleary Halfback Jahrome Hughes
James Tamou (c) Prop Jesse Bromwich
Apisai Koroisau Hooker Cameron Smith (c)
James Fisher-Harris Prop Christian Welch
Viliame Kikau 2nd Row Felise Kaufusi
Liam Martin 2nd Row Kenny Bromwich
Isaah Yeo Lock Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Brent Naden Interchange Brandon Smith
Kurt Capewell Interchange Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
Moses Leota Interchange Dale Finucane
Zane Tetevano Interchange Nicho Hynes
Ivan Cleary Coach Craig Bellamy

James Tamou, Apisai Koroisau, and Zane Tetevano are the only players in the Panthers line-up to have had previous NRL grand final experience after winning premiership titles for the North Queensland Cowboys in 2015, South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2014, and Sydney Roosters in 2018 respectively.[13][14][15] Halfback Nathan Cleary played his 100th first-grade match.[16] Ryan Papenhuyzen, Brenko Lee, Justin Olam, Jahrome Hughes, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, and Nicho Hynes were the only Storm players to make their NRL grand final debut (although Hynes spent the entire match on the bench), while Cameron Smith, Suliasi Vunivalu, Cameron Munster, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, and Dale Finucane played in each of the Storm's last three grand final appearances.[17][18][15] Only Cameron Smith and Jesse Bromwich have played in further grand finals for Melbourne.

Officials[edit source | edit]

Position Stand-By
Referees: Gerard Sutton Ashley Klein
Touch Judges: Chris Butler Todd Smith David Munro
Bunker: Steve Chiddy Source:[19]

Match summary[edit source | edit]


First half[edit source | edit]

The first score came when Storm’s Justin Olam attempted to score in the fourth minute. The referee ruled “no try”, but a video review showed that Penrith’s Tyrone May had kicked the ball out and ordered a penalty try. Cameron Smith converted. In the seventh minute Josh Mansour appeared to have scored for the Panthers, but it was disallowed for a Stephen Crichton obstruction. The Panthers made errors twice and Smith took advantage with two penalty goals. Later Nathan Cleary misdirected a pass which Suliasi Vunivalu intercepted, running 80 meters for a length of field try. With a minute remaining, Smith scored his first grand final try, right in front of the goal posts. It was initially called “no try”, until replays showed Apisai Koroisau knocking it from his hands. Smith hit the conversion, the half finishing 22–0 in favour of the Storm.[20]

Second half[edit source | edit]

Five minutes into the second half, Ryan Papenhuyzen ran 70 meters to score from a scrum. It would be Storm’s last score for the night. When all looked lost for the Panthers, Isaah Yeo kicked and Brian To'o scored in the corner in the 53rd minute. There was controversy over the legality of it, but the try stood. In the 67th minute Papenhuyzen leapt over the touchline to knock a Panther’s penalty kick back into play. Two minutes later, Lee passed to Stephen Crichton, who scored, bringing the score to 12–26. In the 71st minute, Viliame Kikau ran into Jahrome Hughes in attempt to score a try. The ref ruled a professional foul and Hughes was removed from the field. Two minutes later, Jarome Luai threw a long ball to Josh Mansour who scored bringing the scores to 16–26 with seven minutes left. Nathan Cleary missed the conversion. With 20 seconds left in the match Brandon Smith was sinbinned for a professional foul, reducing the Storm’s men to 11. Penrith fought back and scored at almost the 80th minute with a fast try to Cleary. He declined the conversion in attempt to draw level on the last play. From the kick-off, the siren soon sounded. Penrith players passed desperately, but eventually the ball was intercepted by Felise Kaufusi, ending the game.[21]

Ryan Papenhuyzen was judged best afield, winning his first Clive Churchill Medal.[22]

NRL Women's Premiership Grand Final[edit source | edit]


References[edit source | edit]

  1. News, National (2020-09-29). "NRL announce grand final for ANZ Stadium". 2ST. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  2. "Broncos v Roosters". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  3. "Amy Shark To Headline The 2020 NRL Grand Final Entertainment". Triple M. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  4. "Penrith Panthers - Rugby League Project". www.rugbyleagueproject.org. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  5. "Sea Eagles v Warriors". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  6. "Melbourne Storm - Rugby League Project". www.rugbyleagueproject.org. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  7. "Panthers v Storm". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  8. "Storm to remain based on Sunshine Coast". Melbourne Storm. 2020-08-18. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  9. "Panthers v Roosters". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  10. "Storm v Eels". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  11. "Storm v Raiders". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  12. "Panthers v Rabbitohs". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  13. "Rabbitohs v Bulldogs". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  14. "Broncos v Cowboys". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Roosters v Storm". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  16. Nathan Cleary: 100 NRL Games, retrieved 2020-10-29
  17. "Storm v Sharks". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  18. "Storm v Cowboys". National Rugby League. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  19. "NRL & NRLW grand final squad announcements". National Rugby League. 2020-10-25. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  20. "NRL Grand Final 2020 Melbourne Storm premiers, beat Penrith Panthers score, highlights, reaction, video, Cameron Smith reaction". Fox Sports. 2020-10-25. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  21. Hytner, Mike (2020-10-25). "NRL grand final 2020: Melbourne Storm beat Penrith Panthers– as it happened". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-10-26.
  22. "To the letter: Slater inspires Papenhuyzen to run away with Clive Churchill Medal". National Rugby League. 2020-10-25. Retrieved 2020-10-26.

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