The following are previews with betting tips for the Grand Final of the 2020 NRL season.
Panthers v Storm
Sunday, Oct 25, 7:30pm AEDT
The Panthers’ surge to the 2020 decider will be remembered for a long time with the Penrith’s club’s last premiership coming back in 2003. Ivan Cleary’s troops have notched an unprecedented 17 consecutive wins on their warpath to the grand-final, including impressive victories over the Roosters and Souths in the finals series.
While the Panthers’ success this year has come off the back of a youthful and relatively inexperienced squad, Melbourne boast big-game experience that is the envy of the competition. The Storm have matched their opposition’s consistency throughout this year with both teams flourishing under the faster ruck this season.
Penrith will welcome devastating second-rower Viliame Kikau back into their squad from suspension with Brent Naden named in the starting side and Tyrone May on the bench in Ivan Cleary’s only changes. The Penrith coach opted for May to start at centre last week and the ball-playing utility could swap with Brent Naden once again prior to kick-off. Meanwhile, the Storm have named an unchanged squad after their dominant last-start victory over the Raiders. Tui Kamikamica has reportedly recovered from a foot injury and could be a late inclusion on the bench, likely at the expense of utility Nicho Hynes.
With wet-weather conditions looking likely for the grand-final, ball control will become hugely important to the outcome of this contest. Expect Melbourne to target Penrith’s back-three with Edwards, To’o and Mansour’s form under the high-ball patchy at times. Both these teams boast massive forward rotations, with a brutal arm wrestle to control the ruck guaranteed. While Penrith have been enormously potent this season, they have benefitted enormously from the huge class-gap in talent and athletic ability against most teams in the NRL.
Melbourne are arguably the only team they do not hold this advantage over with Craig Bellamy having the luxury of fielding his preferred 17 and a smooth finals series run into the ‘big-dance’. In what could be Cameron Smith’s last NRL match, expect the consistency and experience within this Melbourne outfit to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Storm -2.0 @ $1.93 (PlayUp)