2022 review: Canberra Raiders
63 mins ago | Sam Bourke
The Penrith Panthers have maintained New South Wales' dominance in the State Championship with a 44-10 victory over the Norths Devils in the first curtain raiser on NRL Grand Final Day.
Scoring eight tries to two in a lopsided affair contested between the New South Wales and Queensland state league premiers, the Panthers were well served by 13 players boasting first grade experience.
The victory sees Penrith become the first team to win multiple State Championship titles, while extending the dominance of New South Wales teams to five consecutive wins from seven prior meetings.
After being denied early points through Sunia Turuva due to intervention from the bunker, Penrith captain J'maine Hopgood (7th minute) pounced on a grubber from Soni Luke to mark his final appearance for the club with a try.
Repelling their more-fancied opponents for much of the opening half, the Devils appeared to respond through Jacob Gagan only for the bunker to rule the former NRL outside back lost possession in the act of grounding the ball.
Completing a 12-point turnaround in the following set, Luke (29th minute) took on the line with a dummy to extend the Panthers lead.
Taking the score out to an unassailable 18-0 lead shortly before the break, experienced forward Matt Eisenhuth delivered a great pass to send Eddie Blacker (33rd minute) over next to the posts.
Continuing the rout following the resumption, interchange forward John Faiumu (45th minute) ran onto a short pass from Kurt Falls before the side went the length of the field from the kick-off with Robert Jennings (48th minute) finishing off a pass from Luke close to the line.
Defying a one-man deficit after Luke was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul, Luke Sommerton (63rd minute) exposed the Devils' feeble defence with a dashing run out of dummy half to give the Panthers their sixth try.
Finally getting on the board an hour into proceedings, Tony Tumusa (65th minute) finished off a superb piece of play involving a tunnel ball pass through the legs of former first-grader Leivaha Pulu to spare the Devils the ignominy of being held scoreless.
Closing out the match as it began with a try to Hopgood (71st minute), the Devils crossed for a consolation four-pointer through Rashaun Denny (74th minute) before Turuva (80th minute) streaked over on fulltime to round out the 44-10 demolition.
Penrith Panthers 44 - Norths Devils 10
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park
Halftime Score: Penrith Panthers 18 Norths Devils 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Soni Luke
2 points - J'maine Hopgood
1 points - Sunia Turuva
PENRITH PANTHERS (44)
Tries: Sunia Turuva, J'maine Hopgood (2), Soni Luke, Eddie Blacker, John Faiumu, Robert Jennings, Luke Sommerton
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Kurt Falls (5/7), John Faiumu (1/1)
NORTHS DEVILS (10)
Tries: Tony Tumusa, Rashaun Denny
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Connor Broadhurst (1/2)