Grand Final

Penrith Panthers (2nd) vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (3rd) – Sunday night – Suncorp Stadium


Panthers team list (subject to change)

  1. Dylan Edwards
  2. Stephen Crichton
  3. Paul Momirovski
  4. Matt Burton
  5. Brian To'o
  6. Jerome Luai
  7. Nathan Cleary (c)
  8. Moses Leota
  9. Apisai Koroisau
  10. James Fisher-Harris
  11. Viliame Kikau
  12. Kurt Capewell
  13. Isaah Yeo
  14. Tyrone May
  15. Scott Sorensen
  16. Spencer Leniu
  17. Liam Martin

Coach - Ivan Cleary

Rabbitohs team list (subject to change)

  1. Blake Taaffe
  2. Alex Johnston
  3. Dane Gagai
  4. Campbell Graham
  5. Jaxson Paulo
  6. Cody Walker
  7. Adam Reynolds (c)
  8. Mark Nicholls
  9. Damien Cook
  10. Tevita Tatola
  11. Keaon Koloamatangi
  12. Jaydn Su’A
  13. Cameron Murray
  14. Benji Marshall
  15. Jacob Host
  16. Tom Burgess
  17. Jai Arrow

Coach - Wayne Bennett

Game preview

Here is an unusual fact that I just stumbled across (so hopefully you heard it here first). Only one player in the Penrith seventeen has won a grand final, and he won it with the Rabbitohs. Apisai Koroisau was just 21 years old when he played in the all important number nine jersey for the Bunnies in the 2014 grand final. There are just three players from that grand final playing for the Bunnies on Sunday (Johnston, Reynolds and Tom Burgess). The only other player in either side that has won a grand final before is Benji Marshall, and that was a generation ago. Off the field, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary is yet to win a grand final as a coach. Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has won seven. He won a BRL premiership with Souths Magpies before he moved south. He's coached State of Origin series victories, coached his country (16 games for 3 losses) and he played a leading hand when New Zealand won the 2008 World Cup. There are not many things we can certain of, but we can be certain that Bennett will handle the occasion. His record is impossible to ignore, and he's bringing a team in good shape and in good form...probably the best form they've been in all year. Their opponent has travelled a more arduous journey to get here, after losing to their grand final opponent in week one of the finals. They backed up from that with a gutsy but exhausting win over the Eels, and then they backed up again to hold out the Melbourne Storm. How many times can they back up? After three big weeks can they dig into their reserves and find what it takes to beat a side they couldn't beat three weeks ago when they were fresher than they are now. Penrith have scored just four tries in the last three weeks, and three of those tries came from Nathan Cleary kicks. Their attack isn't firing, but they are still here, which tells you their defence is rock solid. Every opponent mentions their line speed in defence. Some of that is a little bit of what I'll politely call 'gamesmanship'. They regularly concede a six again on the first tackle, prefering to run that risk and get the upper hand early in the tackle count...and it works for them. Whether that's okay is up for debate, but that's the rules we're playing with, so who am I to criticise them for using the rules to their advantage? That said, I wonder if the last three weeks of gruelling football will start to slow their line speed, and if that happens they become a much easier team to crack. For the Bunnies, Damien Cook had his best game in a very long time. When Damien Cook plays well, Cameron Murray plays better, and Cody Walker plays much better. If Latrell Mitchell were available, I'd say the Bunnies were specials. Without him this is much closer, but the Bunnies will have more support at the ground, and Adam Reynolds and (potentially) Benji Marshall can win a premiership with their last game in the famous cardinal and myrtle.

Verdict – Rabbitohs 20 to defeat Panthers 12

Result – Panthers 14 defeated Rabbitohs 12

Clive Churchill medalist – Nathan Cleary

Wally Lewis - the Grand Final (in bold)

Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or Thursday morning

  • PANTHERS vs Rabbitohs


The Thinker's picture

Greetings football fans

As you can see the tipping page for the Grand Final has now been published. I will add my preview and selection this week.

I have updated the tipping comp after week three of the finals. The Last Samurai has an unassailable lead and will be claiming first prize this season. Second and third place is still a contest between a few - note that Wally isn't eligible for a prize. In the event of a tied result, prizemoney will be split equally.

For those that wish to discuss the big free to add your comments here.

All the best

The Thinker

Mary S's picture

Hi Boss,
You will find 'a' submitted tips in the comments column for week 2 (see following copy & paste)
"Submitted by a on Fri 17/9/21 - 5:18pm AEST

Right I’m tipping

These points have not been awarded to him as yet.
Only noticed as he has entered tips there for the last 2 weeks.


MGM's picture

I'm tipping that if Wayne Bennet's men can have the discipline to stick to his instructions (Whatever they may be ), then they will get the win.

MGM's picture

Just keep an eye on Grant Atkins - the Panthers have him in the Bunker Again !
Did you all see Nathan take a leaf out of his father's
playbook and CHEAT whilst taking a conversion kick?
Maybe he'll blame it on the concussion that he wasn't taken
from the field for.

Steel Panther's picture

And the ref that missed that MGM has been rewarded with the whistle for the GF.....go figure

MGM's picture

The fans of this sport are being let down badly Steely.

MGM's picture

On a more positive note -
CONGRATULATIONS Tom Trbojevic , you really deserve that tribute!

Congrats also to The Last Samurai - it's one thing to lead this competition but to hang on to the lead for as long as you have is remarkable.

Special Mention must go to Footy Chick - I can't find it now but I saw your overall record once and I think you might hold the record for finishing in the top 3 or 4 over the years(including at least a couple of wins) - awesome! .... I also can't ever watch R.Garrick kick for goal now without thinking of you !

The Thinker's picture


Turbo has had an extraordinary year - best on ground (for either team) in 11 of 15 games this season.

Regarding Footy Chick - her record in this tipping caper is freakishly consistent

2021 - top three

2020 - tied 2nd

2019 - 1st

2018 - tied third

2017 - unplaced

2016 - 1st

2015 - tied 3rd

So she has only missed the top three once...and won twice


mark ashford's picture

Yeah gotta say congrats to Tommy Turbo, an incredible player who finds the line more than most and seems to do it with ease. Watched his acceptance speech and he seems an unassuming type as well.
Also congrats to the Samurai for his top of the table win, well done it's not easy.

The Thinker's picture

@Mary S

Thank you (again). I have updated the tipping comp now.

All the best

The Thinker

Baggy_Gee's picture

Rumour has it that the Trbojevic was a Parra junior before he pulled an Lyon and headed to the beach. ;P Such a pity he runs around in the wrong jersey.

Esra Star's picture

So many great Parra juniors have walked away in the last 30 years mate.

Christine's picture

South's all the way for me ...

a's picture

I’m tipping Panthers for me

manyana's picture

Hi Thinker, thanks again for running the footy tipping competition. As usual I finished well down the ladder, but it's always fun trying to beat other tipsters.
Thanks also to Your Little Helper, and Mrs. Thinker.
I'll be back again (if you'll have me) next year, and I'll check in before the season starts.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Surely next year has to be better than the last two years!!

Mary S's picture

I'm curious as to why Nathan Cleary is playing this weekend, after having been put on report last week for a dangerous throw on Kenny Bromwich, a move that has seen many a player during the season penalised for.

Instead he escapes (apparently) without censor of any kind - smacks at favouritism to my way of thinking, or am I just being cynical!!

Cheers to all,

mark ashford's picture

This is a difficult game to pick. The Rabbits struggled in mid season but have come good at the right time. The Panthers won what was it 13 straight but are just getting there at the end of the season. Take from that as you will but the defining thing for me is Wayne Bennett. Last game for him at the Bunnies as well as Adam Reynolds, probably their best for years (still can't believe they let him go to the Broncs). Agree with Mary S Nathan should have got at least 2 weeks for that tackle as many other players have. Just hope the refs and the bunker stay out of it and let it flow. I'm concerned about some unwanted rough play from the Panthers but Souths big boys should be up to it.
Souths 18 Panthers 10.

newbie from perth's picture

"Dia duit gach duine" i dteanga ní mo theanga féin,

OK, the “Big Dance” is finally upon us.

Before we start, just wanna give a big shout out to the Boss, his Little Helper and the Boss’ better half Mrs Thinker for a sterling job done this year. I’m fairly certain I can speak on behalf of everyone here when I say that we appreciate the effort and we’re grateful for you providing us with a home for the footy season. Pretty sure we can all do with a little break to recharge the batteries after this weekend is over though. Here’s hoping the Boss will throw up an “offseason page” as he normally does 🙏.

Thanks too goes out to the “family” here for providing their views and dishing out some (hopefully) good-natured “banter” during the year. Hope to catch up with a few of you every now and then on the OSP. Cheers y’all. OK, let’s do this thing…

🔊 - Clive Churchill medallist - Cameron Murray

Panthers vs. Rabbitohs @ Suncorp
Match Rating @ 55-45
Bookies Odds @ Panthers $1.65 vs. Rabbitohs $2.30

The Panthers exacted some revenge on the Storm last week, winning 10-6 to advance to this year’s GF. Not sure if the Panthers’ brilliant defence (best in the competition this year) won the match or whether the Storm lost it due to their (very) poor showing and losing Welch and Smith early on. Either way, the Panthers earned their spot in the “Big Dance” there’s no denying.

Their defence is undoubtedly outstanding but having said that, the Panthers will still need to find points against the in-form Bunnies. I’m wondering if the Panthers’ relentless defensive effort last week will sap them at all. They will need to focus even harder this weekend if they’re to get over the Rabbitohs. They’re capable no doubt but just curious to see how they front up mentally. Some stats possibly worth a mention:

Possession - 46%
Completion Rate - 77% (34/44)
Line Breaks - 2
Tackle Breaks - 42
Tackles Made - 387
Missed Tackles - 48
Ineffective Tackles - 17
Errors - 12
Penalties Conceded - 4

There’s no denying the Rabbitohs were the better side last week, putting the Sea Eagles to the sword to the tune of 36-16. While they were the better side on the day, they were assisted by a Manly side who let the game slip with too many errors. A bit of luck went the way of Souths but I think they were always gonna win against Manly. The Bunnies were pretty impressive but not as impressive as they were the previous game when they beat the Panthers. The Bunnies will need to up their game a tad to get back to that intensity if they’re looking to get the win in the “Big Dance” this weekend.

I don’t think the Rabbitohs’ fans need to be concerned with the Bunnies taking their foot off the gas late in that game against Manly and letting in two tries. As we all know, that’s just a sensible use of game (player) management. I’m wondering if that “50 point rule” might be broken on Sunday. Sooner or later it will be but the question is, will it be this year or not? The Rabbitohs’ win reminds me (unfortunately) of the 2014 GF that Souths won after letting the Roosters score a couple of soft tries late the week before. Eerily similar circumstances. Some stats possibly worth a mention:

Possession - 57%
Completion Rate - 77% (37/48)
Line Breaks - 4
Tackle Breaks - 33
Tackles Made - 306
Missed Tackles - 34
Ineffective Tackles - 8
Errors - 11
Penalties Conceded - 1

Verdict: Because of their attack, the Bunnies will put a heap of pressure on the Panthers’ defence this weekend. Can the Panthers stand up again? On the other hand, the Bunnies’ defence won’t be as tight as the Storm’s was last week. Is that the Rabbitohs’ weakness? Anybody’s game in this one. I’ve gotta tip someone here but I’m finding it very hard as I can make a case for both sides. I was speaking with the Oracle and all she said to me was … “2014 Newbie …. 2014”. Rabbitohs for me.

Let’s finish off with another “Song of the Week”…

Wanna hear some reggae from across the ditch (NZ)? Ya Mon!

OK kids, good luck with your tipping and may your team win by 40 points! Until next time. Cheers 🐔 🐔 🐔

Esra Star's picture

If the referee enforces the 10mtr rule then the Rabbits should take it out. If not,then the Panthers win. Last week against the Storm the panthers were well inside the 10mtr zone on just about every play the ball.
Verdict,,,,still undecided.

mark ashford's picture

Hey Newbie
Not sure about that tune mate, but I'll throw a favourite right back at you. Was never a real Willie fan but love this duet with Ray Charles.
Esra Star
Mate I just hope the refs enforce the rules as we know them but otherwise stay out of it. The "six again" annoys me as I can rarely see why. Lets hope it's a good fair game.

newbie from perth's picture

@ Mr Ashford
Yeah, gotta be honest here bud and say I am not a fan of Ray or Willie (sacrilege I know) but as a sign of the respect I have for you I sat through the whole of that video and well, I have to say, it wasn’t too bad. Nice melody and along with Ray’s piano playing and Willie’s distinctive voice, it wasn’t half bad. Would I buy the CD? No I wouldn’t, but having said that, I can see the appeal. Cheers 🐔 🐔 🐔

P.S. Enjoy the public holiday Monday…

Baggy_Gee's picture

Your right Esra, there does need to be a system to try and keep players around their junior clubs. How many times do we need to see the 2022 St George Broncos happening when there has to be plenty of amazing football talent in the shires. No idea how to make that happen. It would also make Melbourne a lot less viable if it became more costly to pries talent away from home.

BigPeteBx's picture

Good Saturday afternoon to you Newbie and I hope this finds you well in W.A.

This has certainly been a long season - for many reasons.
However mate - I'll go along with 2014, as in a 20-14 score line.
I'm tipping Panthers, as they'll be hungry after last years grand final loss. Souths will do it strong for their departing ones, but not overly sure they can win it. Well, they can win it and Wayne will certainly have them primed for that.

So we'll now hang out for the curtain to fall and see what we have.
Keep safe and well mate and we'll catch up during off season.
Big Pete in Bx

BigPeteBx's picture

Cheers Mark - yes I also agree with that Six Again and it astounds me why when your team is defending, that the opposition get another 6.
Did someone put their little finger on the ball?

I just hope the game goes at a nice pace and that the ref can make his own full admittance with decisions and not need refer to The Bunker. we all know, KFC has to get their threepence worth throughout the game and on more occasions for what they pay NRL in sponsorship endorsements.

Nice having a chinwag during the season mate and hope to see you in or about here, during the off season. My regards to Greg and Wendy when you and/or the little lady are over there. Their business' x 2 now, are that busy I don't get emails or a reply from them these days.

On sad times here at our place ATM, as our daughter departed for Melbourne (returning for her work) at lunchtime today, driving a friends car down for her. Has been quite a considerable amount of rain about the past three days and we pray for safety.

Keep well mate
Big Pete in Bx

mark ashford's picture

Hey Big Pete,
Yeah mate it's sad when a family member leaves the nest especially a daughter as we dads feel so protective towards our daughters. My daughter Phoebe (who is an absolute delight) made the effort to drive from the Gold Coast to Bribie (normally an hour and a half) for fathers day. Took her three hours and the same going home. We had a lovely lunch and a great time, gotta love those daughters.
Mate it's Souths for me without a lot of confidence. Should be a cracker of a game if the refs stay out of it.
Keep yourself well!

Christine's picture

Thinker can you let us hang around the site after the season is over so we can catch up as you normally do for us fellow fans of your site please thinker ...

Rocket Ryan's picture

Coach potato just so as you know I'm going for the rabbits I hate the thought of you adding anymore silverware to that empty cupboard down at Panthers Palace

The Thinker's picture

Happy grand final day football fans....we made it....hooray

I'll be here during the after the game tonight. If anyone feels like discussing the game, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

All the best

The Thinker

EsraStar's picture

I am tipping this might be one of the closest GF's in a long time.

Dragons-fanboy's picture

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well! My grand final pick is:

Panthers by 4 - This will be tight but I am going for the Panthers to avenge their grand final loss from last year. I don't really mind whoever wins it will be quite the story no matter what! So glas to see an all Sydney Grand Final :))))). Even if it isn't in Sydney. All the best to both clubs. And my Clive Churchill Medal winner prediction is actually none other than Isaah Yeo! Guys a work horse and if Penrith win, I reckon he will play a crucial role particularly in a tight low scoring gritty affair which I wouldn't be surprised is the case in this Grand Final.

Awesome! Good luck with everyone's grand final tip and with Rabbits/Panthers fans on here for your team. May the best team win! Cheers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and happy tipping with y'all again this season! Until next time ;))))))))

mark ashford's picture

Hi Dragons Fanboy
Agree this will be a grind with both teams fielding tough forwards, electric halves and speed out wide. Penrith may just have an edge with Cleary kicking and Reynolds under an injury cloud. Like you I don't really care who wins but would like to see Wayne go out a winner.
Enjoy the game.

tigerholic's picture

Evening All
Thanks for a great year, enjoy there GF tonight and I am like most I have tipped Souths but I only hope for a great game that see's the referee have little impact.

Stay safe Christine, looking forward to next year already. Well done to the Last Samuri, Footy Chick, Wally and Princess for outstanding tipping.


MGM's picture

Hi Thinker,
On Tuesday I got in early in the comments here and tipped
the Rabbitohs but thought just now that I should make sure my tip
was entered because I haven't looked since.
I'm sorry I didn't also put it on the tipping page which is no longer available, so just to make it official - It's SOUTHS all the way for me.
Thanks for all your hard work this year Thinker and all the best for
the off-season.

Stallion's picture

Mr Thinker,
I can't find the tipping link?
Please put me down for the Panthers, cheers

mark ashford's picture

Hey Thinker
Can you tell me what the 6 again was for only 20 meters out from the Souths line. I hate that rule.

The Thinker's picture

Not sure Mark 

may have been inside the ten I think 

Panthers with a much better start compared to the grand final last year

Baggy_Gee's picture

Better question how does that equal a penalty? Same as that poor Brisbane hooker who got done for a high shot standing still.

mark ashford's picture

Anyone getting the feeling the Panthers are getting a bit of favouritism?
Looks that way to me. Starting to feel I wish I'd had a 50 on the black cats.

The Thinker's picture

Quick half time summary 

another great half of finals football (the whole series has been terrific). 

cleary is winning this game for Penrith with his right foot. If they win he's the Clive Churchill winner I'm sure.

if souths can get more possession they can win this - Panthers missing a lot of tackles and they will tire late 


Baggy_Gee's picture

There's the square up Mark. Though it would come a lot later in the half though.

The Thinker's picture

After 55 minutes

rabbits have missed 16 tackles 

Panthers have missed 46

The Thinker's picture

Updated missed tackle count is 

61 to 20

MGM's picture

My heart's breaking for Adam Reynolds - he's been slotting those conversions all year long !
It would have been such a good farewell for Reynolds AND Bennett.

Mary S's picture

Agree with you MGM. I was hoping Reynolds & Bennett would go out on a high note too.
Felt so sorry for Reynolds when the field goal dropped short, and he new a win was not possible!

Wondered at times with Panthers "luck" in some decisions, but Cleary contributed a great deal in getting them there.
Would have been an interesting result if his dangerous throw the week before & being put on report, had ruled him out of the GF1

A great match tonight.


MGM's picture

I've been sorely tempted to join in with Mark A ,yourself and
others because I've already made it quite clear how I feel
about Penrith's cheating ways and the extra assistance they
seem to get from match officials and , as Esra warned us ,
the 10 metre rule became the 8.5 metre rule tonight , but with all that said, I don't want to detract from the wonderful spectacle that tonight's Grand Final was and, indeed, the overall quality football we've seen all through this finals series.
Commiserations to Souths and all your loyal fans and congratulations to the Panthers, who definitely pulled out every trick in the book to become 2021 Premiers ... no-one can ever take that from you.
Maybe that's what it takes nowadays.

The Thinker's picture

In four games of finals football the Panthers scored just six tries. Four of the tries were from kicks and one was from an intercept. Just one try through the hands in 320 minutes of football.

That said, they've won the premiership, so their opponents scored less, and defence wins premierships.

I agree with MGM that the Panthers have been pushing the ten metres in defence for quite some time. Opponents have been politely calling it line speed. In their win over the Eels they were called for inside the ten once, against the Storm twice...and in the grand final...twice. They were getting away with it, so why would they stop.

Congrats to the premiers. It was a gripping finals series this year. Well done to the NRL for getting it done.

I'll get the tipping comp results updated as soon as possible, as well as drawing the prizes for the finals comp.

All the best

p.s. a reminder that prizes are $150 for first, $75 for second and $50 for third. Having a quick look I don't think there are any dead-heats...but I'll have a proper look before announcing the winners.


The Thinker's picture


No problem at all. I have added your tip now.

All the best

The Thinker

Christine's picture

Tiger I will still be around the site in the off season, re the grandfinal I feel south's didn't play well Reynolds as mgm said can slot those conversions with his eyes shut & that attempt at a potential 2 point field goal was so unlike Reynolds he is a better player than that & south's were basically out muscled from the start in that game so congratulations to Panthers on the win ...

NRL tipping is easier if you follow the NRL news