2023 NRL grand final

Penrith Panthers (1st) vs Brisbane Broncos (2nd) - Sunday night - Accor Stadium

The Panthers have an opportunity to make a little bit of history - a win on Sunday and they match the heroics of the mighty Parramatta side of the early 80s. 40 years since we've seen a threepeat. When the Eels achieved that result there were just 12 (1981) and then 14 (82 and 83) teams in the competition. So the Panthers have had more competition to contend with, and they've also done it while managing a salary cap - something the Eels in the early 80's didn't have to worry about. Even if they don't win on Sunday, four successive grand finals and (at least) two premierships is an incredible achievement. They're a very good football team. The Broncos, for so long an NRL superpower, have emerged from a dry spell and are once again an NRL powerhouse. They have their critics, but the competition is in better shape when the Broncos are doing well. These sides have already met twice this season, with the Broncos winning by a point in Penrith way back in round one, and the Panthers taking the points 15-4 in Brisbane in round 12. That round 12 result is probably a better guide, as the Panthers took a while to warm up this year. I suspect that has been somewhat intentional, with the Panthers carrying a high representative workload through the World Cup at the end of last year. They've certainly hit their straps now but, to be fair, the Broncos are continuing to improve too. I've no doubt these are the best two sides this season, and I think most would agree with that assessment. The Broncos have played in seven grand finals in their history and they won six of them - the one loss was their last grand final appearance in 2015, in what was possibly the best grand final of all time. Unless 18th man Corey Oates gets a late call-up, no one from that 2015 grand final remains in the current Broncos list. Just two players in the Broncos side have experienced a grand final, and both were with other teams (Reynolds for the Rabbitohs and Capewell for the Panthers). At the risk of stating the obvious, that's not the case for the Panthers, and it could very well be experience that proves the difference. The Broncos have plenty of match-winners in their squad, but they are still (for the most part) a very young team. Reece Walsh is the player to watch - he could win this game in a moment of brilliance, or lose this game in a moment he will regret. In fact, we will probaby get a bit of both from him...he's that kind of player. I'll be cheering for a Broncos result on Sunday - in part because they're my neighbours, but it would also be a terrific reward for Kevin Walters who for too long has had his coaching credentials questioned. His coaching contract has a whole bunch of performance clauses in it this year - should they win the grand final I believe he will receive a million dollar bonus (don't quote me on that in case I'm mistaken). While I'm cheering for the Broncos, I'm tipping the Panthers - a team with more grand final experience than anyone. They are fit and in form, and I think they'll get it done.

Verdict – Panthers by 7

First try scorer – Brian To'o

Clive Churchill medallist – Nathan Cleary

Result – Panthers 26 defeated Broncos 24

First try scorer – Mitch Kenny

Clive Churchill medallist – Nathan Cleary

Wally Lewis - the grand final (in bold)

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

  • Panthers (1st) vs Broncos (2nd)


Bronco Legend's picture

Hi Thinker,
Panthers just thumped Storm at Accor Stadium and now they play Broncs at the same stadium and they have won the last 2 grand finals and will be hard to beat which makes the Panthers the favourites but only just in my opinion.
Broncs had a good win as well against Warriors regardless of a spec savers forward pass and intercept and are going good and getting better all the time.
Both teams as far as i know are full strength.
Going to be a slog for both teams as temp will be 33 degrees during the day, but game starts at 6.30pm so hopefully cooler by then.
Atm Panthers $1.64 and Broncs $2.27.
Tipping my team Broncs to win by 14 points.

Mary S's picture

I'm hoping, 😄😄 your team ( & Mark , Rocket and other Bronco supporters) win too, Bronco Legend!

EsraStar's picture

I think the pressure is on the Panthers rather than the Broncos. The pressure will be the 3 in a row,,,can they do it? Pressure.

David.C-Manly1st's picture

Hopefully Brisbane Broncos win, too shutup Mr thinks he knows all Gould. I do like Penrith but he raves on about them always and he makes out he got Penrith to where they are now. Needs to keep his fat head out of it.
Tipping Brisbane by 7pts or 12pts.
Man Of the match
Pat Carrigan or Adam Reynolds.
Enjoy GF day Everyone.


mark ashford's picture

As well as all Broncs supporters on this site I wish my team all the best on Sunday. No doubt Reece Welsh will be targeted by the Panther thugs but he is a smart cookie and will do his best to stay out of trouble. Broncs have a formidable pack and need to protect Reece. Saw on a NRL site the other day that Panthers are the most disliked team in Sydney, hope fully the Broncs can give them a lesson.

newbie from perth's picture

8512121505225182515145 …

First up, where’s the “tipping button” thingy gone Boss? Just logged in and it’s gonski. No doubt you or your Little Helper will get it sorted. Moving on …

Seeing as it’s the Grand Final, my comments might be a little longer than usual. Aw c’mon, let me have this one thing one last time this year 😂.

In theory, this will be a cracker and may the best team win. I’m not fussed who wins actually but it would be nice for all you Bronco fans here if the Ponies got up.

I’m assuming the Boss might throw up an “off-season” page as usual so don’t forget to drop in every once and a while OK? OK, let’s do this thing …

Panthers vs. Broncos @ Accor Stadium
Probability @ 55-45
Ladder Position = Panthers
Bookies Favourite = Panthers

Why the Panthers Win:

The Panthers blew the Storm away last week to march into their fourth consecutive Grand Final so their experience in the Big Dance should hold them in good stead this weekend. They have been dominant all year and I fully expect them to play their usual patient and stifling, grinding style of play.

I’m thinking Nathan Cleary might just rise to the occasion (step it up a notch) and use his kicking game to put the pressure on the Broncos. I was a little surprised the Princess managed to get through his minutes last week and this week will be another big test for her (sorry, for him).

There’s been a lot said about no side winning 3 consecutive Grand Finals in the “modern era” but there’s no reason why it can’t happen this weekend given the class of the Panthers. The Panthers are so well-drilled and always seem to be able to stubbornly defend their goal line. Considering their outstanding defence and work ethic, it will be tough (or should be) for the Broncos to score points. Then again, anything can happen in a game of footy, especially in a Grand Final.

Why the Broncos Win:

Even with a couple of (blatant) forward passes they scored off, the Broncos simply smashed a very good Warriors side last week. The Broncos are the real deal. They have been a revelation this year to most people. They’re speedy, classy, start well and ready for this. Their forward pack can cause problems for the Panthers, as too can Reece Walsh, Adam Reynolds and Ezra Mam. Actually, they all can but those fellas in particular. If Reece Walsh is quick enough to get around the outside of the Panthers defence and link up with the centres and wingers it’s game on.

What worries me a little is their lack of Grand Final experience but they are full of confidence and momentum and are playing beautiful footy (their speed and tendency to offload). All these point to the possibility of them upsetting the Panthers’ ability to defend in their usual clinical fashion.

The Broncos are very capable of winning this. Actually, they’re the only side in the competition this year that have all the boxes ticked in order to do so. But obviously, it won’t be an easy ask. It’s all in their hands now and it’ll be interesting to see if their heads are in the right place to get this done.

The Verdict:

OK, it’s time to pick a winner. Can the Broncos have a fairy tale ending to their impressive season or will the Panthers create history? I’d really love to see the Broncos win this for their fans and for the club but the Panthers are classy, professional and have been here 3 years in a row before this weekend. I think their Grand Final experience will just get them over the line … Panthers by 6.

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

Not something most of you would expect from this guy. Beautiful song with deep message about what happens to us all. Close your eyes and just listen to the music, lyrics and tone of his voice. Another one taken from us early. Christmas for me has never been the same since he passed…


OK kids, good luck with your tipping and if your team is in the finals, may they win by 40 points! Cheers 🐔 🐔 🐔

The Thinker's picture


Yes indeed, Gus is talking up his own hand a bit when he talks about Penrith. And a lot of it isn't really his hand.

Gus was the decision maker behind the sacking of Ivan Cleary. Since his return the Panthers have gone to a whole other level...and they are clearly very well coached.

I'll have my preview and selection published later today. I've been on holidays with the family this week and got distracted by seagulls and a beer or two :-)

All the best

The Thinker

Buzz105's picture

Another Broncos supporter here on this site. Hoping for not only a Broncos win but a great game on the Sunday ( a Lions win over the pies would be perfect as well).

Thank you Thinker for running this for another year !!

The Thinker's picture

Hi all

My Little Helper has resolved the issue with the tipping form now. 

All the best 

The Thinker

mark ashford's picture

After reading the Thinkers revue and Newbies comments(don't worry mate they weren't too long) I have to disagree on two points. The pressure will be on the Panthers for the 3peat whereas the Broncs have nothing to lose. Previous GF experience means nothing on Sunday. It will come down to hunger and the Broncs have plenty of appetite for a win. I will watch closely to see how the Panthers try to close down Reece Walsh and I hope the refs are as well.
Broncs 18 Panthers 14.
Good luck to supporters of both teams.

newbie from perth's picture

🔊 Mr Ashford, I take your point and agree to a certain extent but still think the “experienced heads” of the Panthers will get them home. That’s why I said “their Grand Final experience will just get them over the line”, with the emphasis on “just”. I’d love to see the Broncos get up for you guys, god knows you’ve had to endure some average stuff over recent years and a win on Sunday might make up for it 💪.

Reading the Boss’ comments reminded me that I hadn’t mentioned the Clive Churchill and 1st try scorer. Not that I’m any sort of judge 😁 but at the prices (and assuming the Panthers win) I like …

Clive Churchill – Dylan Edwards
1st try scorer – Sunia Turuva

OK frens, have a good one and let’s hope the game on Sunday befits the best 2 sides in the competition … Bring It On!

manyana's picture

I'm with you Mark. I'd love to see the Broncos win, but it will be hard against such an experienced team like the Panthers.
I hope it's a great game, and may THE BEST TEAM WIN.

BigPeteBx's picture

Good Sunday morning to you all and hope you have a lovely day with NRL G/Finals fast approaching. Before I commence - thanks Thinker & Helper for such a grand tipping comp you run here and how tippers final success hasn't been known to the finals or closing stages.

My Shout-out is I've been here for 7 years and 7 months and how time flies so fast. Also now retired for 3 months.
Keep in touch (if you wish) ALL as we near some Summer sport to hone in on. Yes, Newbie/Steely my Magpies got up yesterday but close again.
EPL - hmmm wont discuss this morning. Bring on A-League and BB Cricket.
Cheers everyone and keep well - Big Pete in Bx (Vroom vroom - nearing).

Footy chick's picture

Thank you to The Thinker and everyone for being involved in this terrific tipping competition. Have a great day today everyone. xx

TigerGirl's picture

Hi the tipping form is not here for me. I’m tipping Penrith Panthers

The Thinker's picture

Hi TigerGirl

Thanks for letting me know. I will add.

All the best

The Thinker

Gummy Sharks's picture

Thank you to the Thinker and his little helper for running another terrific competition this year. Will be back next year if permitted. Have two "favourite " tipsters on this site that I secretly try to beat each year as I think they are both excellent footy judges. Managed to finish in front of one of them but probably by default as I could see he made some curious selections towards the end of the comp to try and improve his position that didn't work out. Apologies for my rants about the Sharks from time to time but they are a very frustrating club and team to support. My main disappointment with them is their insistence on sticking with players who are well past their use by date and yet young guys never seem to be promoted. As for the Grand Final, wow, just wow. The best Grand Final I think I've ever seen.

The Thinker's picture

@Gummy Sharks

Thanks for the kind words. It's still fun to do this, so I'll keep doing this until it isn't fun anymore :-)

The Thinker's picture

Greetings football fans

Well, that was quite a grand final - the last two times the Broncos have made it this far have been absolute classics, and in both games the Broncos have been in front only to get run down in the dying moments. Heartbreaking for Broncos fans.

I have updated the tipping comp - I will give people a chance to let me know if I have made any mistakes, but it looks like we have our top three placegetters.

Once finalised, I will add all the other tipsters that stuck solid all season into my lucky hat, and I'll get Ms Thinker to draw our consolation prize.

As always, thanks for being a part of the tipping comp in 2023. You're all terrific sports. The internet is full of hate and anger but this place isn't, and I appreciate that very much.

I will also create an off-season page for those who may want to keep in touch until next season. 

All the best

The Thinker

BigPeteBx's picture

Howdy Gummy Sharks and nice to touch base with you.
Certainly know that feeling mate. I have a couple of close friends who live in The Shire. One's son played youth league soccer with Shane Flanagans son (Kyle). Mind you - Sharks fullback is a local lad from where I live. His dad (Bubba) played here and in Sydney as well.
Sure was a bit see-sawing last night, but records were made to be broken. Also showed the fightback qualities that Penrith have. Never fear - Broncos were certainly in this and will learn by that, especially when in front stay in front. Enjoy the off-season and catch up next season - although a couple on here are also round-ball (the real football) code followers like myself.
Cheers and keep well - Big Pete in Bx.

Mary S's picture

Hi Boss,
Are you still updating figures?
You show as 143/212 which seemed odd, as you have tipped each game (213) and Wally Lewis shows as 138/208, which also seemed odd (for the same reason)!!

An excellent game last night - I was like so many Broncos fans, bouncing up & down on my seat as Broncos made it 24/8.
In the end, not the result that many of us wanted (including me), but the Broncos young players will have learnt a lot from their first Grand Final, that makes the prospect for 2024 season look extremely promising!!

Look forward to keeping in touch during the off-season, and many, many thanks to The Thinker, his Little Helper and all participants, for a great site and tipping comp.


EsraStar's picture

As good a player as Adam Reynolds is i think he blew it with those damn short drop outs!. I would like to see a stat that showed just how often they come off.
Very proud of the Broncos and i reckon next year they will be even better,for the experience.

bradapple's picture

I went to tip the final yesterday but there was no option to do so. :(

The Thinker's picture

Apologies bradapple...we may have been caught out by the Daylight Savings switch which happened the night before the grand final. You will be included in the lucky dip raffle for the consolation prize.


I think Wally and I might have published our tips on the site but not submitted our tipping forms. I think that may be the issue there.

I was just looking at some game stats - Panthers had a completion rate of 37 from 38 (97%). That's extraordinary. It's also incredible that, given the completion rate, the Broncos only lost by 2.

David Carling's picture

Good GF, wrong team lost, Brisbane should have won. They did not. Hopefully will learn from this. I do not support either team, my Eagles were not good enough to make finals, even though injuries cruelled us. Games against teams such as the narcotic Knights should have won and a few others where we got ripped off did not help our cause as such.
Hopefully 2024 will be better and the does not get the team they want to win. Some rules need to get scrapped, such as continuous 6 agains. Get rid off players lying all over the team with ball etc ruck speeds needs overhaul. Few other rules as well.
Just a thought.

mark ashford's picture

Yes was a great GF. Both teams gave their best. I agree with a previous poster Adam Reynolds gave the game away with those two short drop outs. was that his decision or did it come from Kevvie???. It was a great game and the Panthers deserved the win thanks to one Nathan Cleary. Ivan must be a very proud Dad.

Dragons-fanboy's picture

Oh no! I forgot to put my tip in for the GF! I would’ve gone with Panthers and oh what a game it was! Amazing comeback on the big stage. Nathan Cleary is seriously elite level he proved it in that final 20. Thanks for another great season of tipping and looking forward for another in 2024. Hope my boys improve under Flanno!

The latest in NRL news