With 20 minutes to go in the NRL Grand Final, on the back of some Ezra Mam brilliance, it looked as though the NRL Premiership was heading to Brisbane for the first time since 2006. The Broncos were up by 16 points, dominating the forwards through the likes of Payne Haas, Patty Carrigan and Jordan Riki. However, Nathan Cleary and the Penrith Panthers had other ideas.
It was Stephen Crichton (or 'Critta") who pounced on a loose ball to shift the momentum of the game, before sensationally scoring a four pointer to bring the Panthers within striking distance. After Cleary, the eventual Clive Churchill Medal winner, crossed in the final stages, the Panthers took the lead and secured their third straight premiership.
It capped off another incredible season from the likes of Brian To'o and James Fisher-Harris, who were joined by new signings like Luke Garner and Jack Cogger, to deliver a 5th Premiership to Penrith. It was the first three-peat since the Eels did it in 1981-82-83.
For Broncos captain Adam Reynolds, who joined the Broncos in 2022 and led this youthful team of Broncos superstars, including Reece Walsh, Kotoni Staggs, Herbie Farnworth, Selwyn Cobbo, Ezra Mam and Jordan Riki, it was a heartbreaking loss but one which will undoubtedly make the team stronger in 2024 and beyond. With a squad having an average age of around 25, which is one of the youngest in the NRL, there can be little doubt that a Premiership win is fast approaching.
Written by Swysh
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