Panthers do the double on NSWRL Grand Final Day


A stellar show of resilience has seen the Penrith Panthers claim the Knock-On Effect NSW Cup with a 29-22 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon, while their U21 Jersey Flegg team picked up that title in an 83-minute epic over Newcastle, 19-18.

Photo courtesy NSWRL media 

All listed times are AEST (NSW/QLD/VIC/ACT).

RELATED: See the full list of 2022 NSWRL KOE NSW Cup Draw and Results.

Pathways lead to premierships for Penrith

A stellar show of resilience has seen the Penrith Panthers claim the Knock-On Effect NSW Cup with a 29-22 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon.

Fielding a squad featuring 13 players with first grade experience, the Panthers, coached by former NRL captain Peter Wallace, claimed their first reserve grade title since 2017.

Opening the scoring through Sunia Turuva (8th minute) following a superb cut-out pass from Sean O'Sullivan, the Fijian international touched down in the left corner to give the hosts a 4-0 lead.

Responding after a bust from Jackson Topine gave the blue and whites good field position, Jayden Okunbor (13th minute) soared above his opposite winger to ground a crossfield bomb from Brandon Wakeham; a sideline conversion from Wakeham put the Bulldogs up 6-4.

The Panthers regained the lead midway through the half after Kurt Falls (18th minute) chased an innocuous kick from Soni Luke to push the score out to 10-6 with a converted try next to post.

Striking a crucial blow in the closing moments of the first half, Jack Cole (37th minute) swooped on a misdirected pass from Wakeham to score untouched with a 40 metre run before O'Sullivan nailed a field goal as the halftime siren sounded to send the Panthers to the sheds up 17-6.

Gaining a fortuitous call early in the second half with Turuva denied a four-pointer due to an obstruction ruling, young Bulldogs five-eighth Khaled Rajab demonstrated poise beyond his years by identifying Penrith defending with their fullback in the front line and executing a chip kick for Declan Casey (47th minute) to reduce the margin to 17-12.

Growing in confidence following a run of penalties, the Bulldogs brought the CommBank Stadium crowd to life as Okunbor (57th minute) collected his second try by finishing off a right side shift to make it a one-point game.

Shaken out of complacency by finding touch from the ensuing kick-off, the Panthers regained the ascendancy with Luke (60th minute) throwing a dummy and crashing over from close range for a 23-16 lead.

The Bulldogs refused to wilt in the face of their more experienced opponents and crossed through Topine (67th minute), who spurned the Panthers defence to restore a one-point deficit.

Securing the premiership off the back of a seven-tackle set, Turuva (74th minute) ran onto a pass from Isaiah Iongi to collect his second before Falls nailed the conversion from touch to give the Panthers an unassailable 29-22 lead.

The Bulldogs tried in vain to conjure a miracle with Topine denied a second try due to a knock-on from Okunbor, but it was to no avail as the Panthers ran out deserving victors with Soni Luke claiming official player of the match honours.

Finishing the 2022 season in second position on the ladder, Penrith's Knock-On Effect Cup success followed on from victory in the Jersey Flegg competition earlier in the day; the young Panthers fought back from an 18-6 deficit late in the contest before Dolphins-bound halfback Isaiya Katoa nailed a field goal in the 83rd minute of golden point to prevail 19-18 over Newcastle.

Next Sunday, Penrith will face Norths Devils in the State Championship to be played as a curtain raiser on NRL Grand Final day at 1.20pm.

NSW Cup Grand Final
Penrith Panthers 29 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 22

Venue: CommBank Stadium, Parramatta
Crowd: 6210
Date: Sunday 25 September 2022 at 3:00pm

Penrith Panthers (29)
Tries: Sunia Turuva 2, Kurt Falls, Jack Cole, Soni Luke
Goals: Kurt Falls 4
Field Goals: Sean O'Sullivan 1

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (22)
Tries: Jayden Okunbor 2, Declan Casey, Jackson Topine
Goals: Brandon Wakeham 3

Under 21 Jersey Flegg Cup Grand Final
Penrith Panthers 19 Newcastle Knights 18

Venue: CommBank Stadium, Parramatta
Date: Sunday 25 September 2022 at 1:00pm

Newcastle Knights (18)
Tries: Thomas Cant, Fletcher Sharpe, Kurt Donoghoe
Goals: Thomas Cant 3

Penrith Panthers (19)
Tries: Daeon Amituanai, Mavrik Geyer, Samuel Lane
Goals: Niwhai Puru 3
Field Goals: Isaiya Katoa 1

Presidents Cup Grand Final: Maitland Pickers 36 Hills Bulls 12