Panthers Redemption

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They had to wait another 12 months and then they did it the hard way..

There’s an old saying in Rugby League – “you must lose one to win one” And that rings true for the Panthers in 2021. It was only 12 months ago they lay distraught at ANZ Stadium as they watched their Melbourne Storm counterparts celebrate yet another Premiership, wondering where it went wrong.

In 2021, after another dominant season it seemed to all go wrong in week 1 of the finals when they were beaten by South Sydney. If the Panthers were to win this Premiership, they would have to do it the hard way and go through Parramatta and then Melbourne without a week off.

A brutal match against Parramatta saw them scrape through and looked all but gone especially when you consider their next opponent was their 2020 nemesis, the juggernaut Storm.

They defied the odds and defeated the Storm but again the question was how much did they have left in the tank.

Roll around to Grand Final day and they would put all those questions to bed. Another tough, close match against the team that defeated them only three weeks ago and their master coach Wayne Bennett.

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While the Panthers were never comfortable they never really looked like losing the match.

Apisai Koroisau tackled anything that moved. 51 tackles in the match and although he had 15 misses against his name which is quite high for a defender of his standard, he did get a lot of traffic as Souths tried to nullify his effectiveness in attack by making him work overtime. He cleverly forced a couple penalties for the Panthers and chose his moments well as he always does to keep the opposition guessing.

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Viliame Kikau wasn’t happy with his own performance in the 2020 Grand Final and on Sunday night he wasn’t really interested in making the big play for his team. Instead he just rolled his sleeves up, ran hard and tackled hard. His tackle on a runaway Dane Gagai down the touchline was a try saver and deserves way more credit.

Two time winner

It was warming as a Fijian to see them get the Premiership they deserve. Koroisau joins Lote Tuqiri and Suliasi Vunivalu as dual Premiership winners and Kikau gets his first Premiership Ring.

What did you think of the Grand Final?

Another thing to point out is both our Penrith stars will be club legends now and will be talked about in higher regard by Penrith fans because they delivered the title back to Penrith.

I lived in the Penrith area in 2003 when they last won the Premiership. I went into town that night with a group of friends and it was the craziest buzz you will see. The traffic was piled up on the Great Western Highway and people were running up and down the street shirtless.

I can only imagine what it was like last night even with a lockdown. Congratulations Viliame Kikau and Apisai Koroisau and also to the squad members Robert Jennings and Sunia Turuva and the whole Penrith Panthers organisation.

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