Panthers crush Eels to win NRL grand final

Panthers players celebrate their victory over the Eels at Accor Stadium in Sydney. Photo: Getty Images
Panthers players celebrate their victory over the Eels at Accor Stadium in Sydney. Photo: Getty Images
Penrith have sealed their status as one of the NRL's greatest ever teams, going back-to-back with a crushing 28-12 grand final win over Parramatta.

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.

Dylan Edwards was a deserving Clive Churchill Medallist, 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 their hopes of ending the 36-year drought were quickly extinguished.

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

"That first half, it was a dream come true," Panthers head coach Ivan Cleary said.

"Considering everything on the line ... I sat back and watched the boys go to work.

"We put what we've learned from the last few years to good use and I'm incredibly blessed to be their coach."

The scary question now is when will the Panthers' dominance stop?

The club won every grade down to under-18s this season, and while they lose Viliame Kikau and Api Koroisau next year they 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 night, 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 try.

Again, it was off 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' only moment of fury came when Mitch Moses was 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.

Parramatta 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.

"We just got beat by a better team," Eels coach Brad Arthur said.

"It's a tough road to get here, and maybe the tough road took its toll on us.

"It's a big achievement. But we're not going to put the cue in the rack and be content with that."