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Penrith stuns Parramatta 28-12 in one-sided grand final for back-to-back NRL title

Penrith has successfully defended its NRL title by beating Parramatta by 16 points in Sydney.

Penrith has successfully defended its NRL title by beating Parramatta by 16 points in Sydney. Photo: AAP

Penrith has won the 2022 NRL grand final with a comprehensive 28-12 defeat of local rivals Parramatta.

Fullback Dylan Edwards starred as the Panthers became only the second team in the NRL era (1998-present) to win back-to-back premierships.

The loss keeps the Eels’ premiership drought intact, which at 36 years, is the longest in the NRL.

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal for the best player in the final.

“Thank you boys, I love all you,” Edwards said.

“We worked hard for this and we will enjoy it.

“We definitely wouldn’t be here without a bunch of great boys in the (wider) squad.

“We wanted to make our community proud out there and hopefully we did that.”

In one of the most one-sided deciders this century, Penrith blew the Eels off the park in a near-perfect first half before Parramatta’s only two tries came in the final four minutes.

Edwards was superb, making 228 metres on the back of his kick returns, producing the cover tackle of the night on Bailey Simonsson in the second half and setting up two tries in the win.

Brian To’o also scored a double, Moses Leota put on several big hits and through it all Nathan Cleary’s kicking game was again influential.

In comparison Mitch Moses was unable to get an attacking kick away until the 40th minute, as the Eels’ hopes of ending the 36-year drought were quickly extinguished.

It was enough to seal Penrith the fourth title in its history, as it became only the second team to defend its crown in the NRL era.

But the scarier question is when will the Panthers’ dominance stop?

The club won every grade down to under-18s this season, and while it loses Viliame Kikau and Api Koroisau next year the Panthers appear set for a dynasty of success.

In the past three years alone they have won 67 of 78 matches, making their run the most dominant since Parramatta claimed three straight titles in the early 1980s.

And after 15 minutes on Sunday, it became evidently clear that there would be no return to the glory days for the Eels.

After a tight opening, Edwards produced his first big moment when Cleary put him into space and the fullback found Stephen Crichton trailing back inside him.

Jarome Luai was also back to his best, making the most of Penrith’s momentum to help put To’o over for their second.

Again, it was the back of a big Edwards kick return as he regularly put the Panthers on the front foot.

At that point Liam Martin looked as if he could score every time he touched the ball on the right and Kikau was busting through tackles for fun on the left.

Cleary also had the ball on a string as he was continually given good ball as Penrith zeroed in on Parramatta’s ball-carriers.

The halfback’s finest play came when he spotted Clint Gutherson in the line and grubber-kicked for Scott Sorensen to make it 18-0 before halftime.

The Eels were furious when Mitch Moses was then ruled to have initiated contact on Kikau in the lead up to To’o’s second try after the break.

But by then the game was done and Parramatta could only really blame itself.

The Eels were comprehensively beaten in the middle, gave away an obstruction on their first attacking raid before their two late tries came through Gutherson and Jake Arthur.

The points however would have done little to silence Penrith’s party.

It began when Edwards put Crichton over, ramped up when he chased down Simonsson and put him into touch to deny the winger and then went into overdrive when he sent Charlie Staines over on the next set.

“It’s disappointing But that’s footy,” Gutherson said after the game.

“We gave them way too much ball there in the first half and made 120 more tackles.

“Someone has to lose and unfortunately it was us.”

-AAP

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