Superstar produces ‘worst game of year’

 

Nick Campton reveals who starred and stunk in the 2020 NRL grand final.

 

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PENRITH PANTHERS

 

1. Dylan Edwards - 6

Returned the ball well and finished with 145 metres, the second most of any Panther, but couldn't quite link with the rest of his spine in attack, especially early. Struggled to combine with May down the right side.

 

Nathan Cleary, Cameron Smith and Viliame Kiakau were all key players in the NRL grand final.
Nathan Cleary, Cameron Smith and Viliame Kiakau were all key players in the NRL grand final.

2. Josh Mansour - 6

Got through 22 runs and had 151 metres to show for it. Might not have had the impact of other matches this season but he never stopped trying. His hands let him down more than once and he missed Vunivalu after the Storm flyer's intercept but did grab a late try.

14. Tyrone May - 3

Starting him in the centres was a major gamble and it backfired badly. May is a talented player but his inexperience as a centre and lack of combinations with the players around him hurt Penrith's fluency in attack and played a role in their inability to convert their early pressure into points.

 

Melbourne's Justin Olam scores a penalty try during the 2020 NRL grand final between the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium. Defender Tyrone May was penalised for attacking with the foot. Picture: Brett Costello
Melbourne's Justin Olam scores a penalty try during the 2020 NRL grand final between the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium. Defender Tyrone May was penalised for attacking with the foot. Picture: Brett Costello

 

4. Stephen Crichton - 5

One of the few times this season he's looked his age. Didn't see much clean ball but got better as the game went on and beat Lee all ends up for his try. He'll be a lot better for the run.

5. Brain To'o - 6

Never stopped working, even as the scoreboard mounted and showed great skills to finish a difficult chance for Penrith's first try. May's inclusion restricted his chances, especially early.

 

6. Jarome Luai - 6

Early on he couldn't find the magic we've come to expect. His running game is one of his greatest weapons but he didn't record a carry until the final quarter of the match - but once he did start taking on the line he looked far more dangerous and his pass to Mansour was a peach.

7. Nathan Cleary - 4

He's been close to the best player all season but this might have been his worst game of the year. The pass to Vunivalu was a shocker, and possibly a 12-point turnaround. Didn't record his first run until the 52nd minute and even though he kept at it and scored a late try, this was one to forget.

 

Dylan Edwards and Nathan Cleary dejected after losing the 2020 NRL grand final.
Dylan Edwards and Nathan Cleary dejected after losing the 2020 NRL grand final.

 

8. James Tamou - 5

Worked as hard as he could but was powerless to stop the Melbourne onslaught. Kept going hard, even as the scoreboard mounted. Penrith will miss him next year.

9. Api Koroisau - 5

Had a couple of nice runs early but couldn't dominate like he did in the preliminary final. Penrith's lack of momentum in the middle of the field helped keep him quiet. Was a shade unlucky with the Cameron Smith try - it didn't seem as though there was enough evidence to overturn.

 

10. James Fisher-Harris - 6

He can hold his head high after a torrid stint in the middle of the field. Kept up the aggression all night and tried to give Penrith steel in the middle even as things took a turn for the worse.

11. Viliame Kikau - 6

Penrith went to him early and often, and he looked dangerous whenever he had room to move. His effort and impact with the ball couldn't be question but his attention to detail wasn't quite there - he made three errors and gave away two penalties.

 

Viliame Kikau made three errors and gave away two penalties.
Viliame Kikau made three errors and gave away two penalties.

 

12. Liam Martin - 5

Another one who suffered with the late May switch. Threw himself around from the jump and showed great hops to take a cross kick, but just didn't see enough ball to impose himself on the match the way he has so often this year.

13. Isaah Yeo - 7

Penrith's best. His late footwork was a treat in the greasy conditions and even broke out the kicking game for To'o's try. Staying on the job even as Melbourne kept putting on tries is exactly what we've come to expect from the Pride of Dubbo.

3. Brent Naden - 5

How could things have been different if he started? It's a question that will haunt Naden and the Panthers for some time - but the Wellington man did well when he came on and looked dangerous.

15. Kurt Capewell - 4

Didn't see a whole lot of ball, and by the time he came on things were already slipping away.

16. Moses Leota - 6

By the time he came on the Storm were miles ahead, but you would have thought the scores were level judging from how he carried the ball. Made a couple of errors and his captain's challenge was a shocker, but went hard with every run and tackle.

17. Zane Tetevano - 4

Another who didn't get a whole lot of game time and when he did Melbourne were well in control.

TOTAL: 89

 

 

 

MELBOURNE STORM

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen - 7

Quiet in the first half but roared to life in the second and his long-range try will live on the highlight reel for years. Played a greater role in the Storm's attack as the game went on and was safe as a bank.

2. Suliasi Vunivalu - 7

His first stop when he gets back to Melbourne should be Crown Casino, because he gambled big and won when he shot in for the intercept pass. Showed great pace to go all the way.

3. Brenko Lee - 5

Was unwanted this time last year and now he's a premiership winner. Missed Crichton for Penrith's second try but had some nice touches in attack.

4. Justin Olam - 6

Had the weight of a nation on his shoulders and Papua New Guinea will be bursting with pride. Scored a try and went hard on both sides of the ball. One of the great stories to come out of the NRL in recent years.

5. Josh Addo-Carr - 6

Didn't get many chances in attack but his pass back inside to Olam was a ripper. A perfect end to his time in Melbourne.

 

Cameron Munster and Cameron Smith of the Storm pose with the premiership trophy.
Cameron Munster and Cameron Smith of the Storm pose with the premiership trophy.

 

 

6. Cameron Munster - 6

Was tidy but didn't dominate, which was all the Storm needed from him and should help bury the demons from the 2018 grand final. His best moments came in defence - his scramble was excellent and he finished with 24 tackles.

7. Jahrome Hughes - 7

Perhaps the most unfashionable premiership winning halfback in years, but he's just what the Storm need. Did all the little things right and didn't blink when confronted with the monstrous Kikau. Got binned late but played a huge role.

 

8. Jesse Bromwich - 5

Didn't dominate early but was strong defensively around the ruck. By the time he came back on the game was all but won and he'll go home with a third premiership ring.

9. Cameron Smith - 7

Pulled the strings in midfield like he has for almost two decades now and scored a rare try. If this was his last game then he'll leave at the top of his game.

10. Christian Welch - 8

Outstanding and would have been a fine choice for man of the match. Brought the heavy pressure in defence in his first stint and ran for 119 metres, more than any other Storm forward. He's been an unsung hero for several weeks now but should get plenty of recognition.

 

 

11. Felise Kaufusi - 6

Looked dangerous in attack and helped create room for his outside men. Throw in some key defensive plays and the intercept that shut down Penrith's attack and it was a nice outing for the Queenslander.

12. Kenny Bromwich - 5

A little quiet in attack - the wet weather stopped him from using his ball-playing skills. Made two errors as he tried to make something happen but tackled well.

13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona - 8

Wouldn't have looked out of place with the Clive Churchill Medal on his enormous chest. Imposed himself physically on the match from the jump and his aggression helped put Melbourne on top. Broke four tackles and countless Penrith hearts.

 

 

Dale Finucane and Nelson Asofa-Solomona celebrate victory.
Dale Finucane and Nelson Asofa-Solomona celebrate victory.

 

14. Brandon Smith - 7

Always causing trouble around the ruck and it was a smart move from Bellamy to get him onto the field earlier than usual. Among the Storm forwards only Welch had more metres. Got sin-binned late but that just meant he got to start the celebrations early.

15. Tino Fa'asumaleuai - 5

Not his most dominant display, but it didn't need to be. Departs for the Titans as a premiership winner.

16. Dale Finucane - 6

He is built for the big matches and loved the torrid, grinding football this match provided. One of the most reliable and consistent players in the league and proved why with another strong grand final performance.

17. Nicho Hynes - n/a

Didn't get on the field - probably would have were it not for the two sin bins.

TOTAL: 101

 

 

Originally published as Superstar produces 'worst game of year'


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