It all comes down to this as the Panthers and Storm battle it out for the 2020 NRL premiership in Sunday’s Grand Final showdown.
Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm free NRL tips, predictions and preview – the Panthers are gunning for a record 18th consecutive win and first premiership since 2003…
Panthers vs Storm Tips
Panthers vs Storm Match Details
?? Competition: NRL
? Date: Sunday October 25
⏰ Time: 7.30pm AEDT
? Stadium: ANZ Stadium
Panthers vs Storm 2020 Form (last five matches)
- R18: Panthers 20-2 Eels
- R19: Cowboys 12-32 Panthers
- R20: Bulldogs 0-42 Panthers
- FW1: Panthers 29-28 Roosters
- FW3: Panthers 20-16 Rabbitohs
- R18: Storm 36-20 Cowboys
- R19: Storm 50-22 Tigers
- R20: Dragons 30-22 Storm
- FW1: Storm 36-24 Eels
- FW3: Storm 30-10 Raiders
Panthers vs Storm Head to Head (last five matches)
Panthers have won two of their last three encounters.
- 19/6/20: Panthers 21-14 Storm
- 30/3/19: Panthers 2-32 Storm
- 31/8/18: Storm 16-22 Panthers
- 1/4/17: Storm 28-6 Panthers
- 4/6/16: Storm 24-6 Panthers
Panthers vs Storm Tips, Preview & Prediction
It’s the youthful exuberance of the Panthers up against the battle-hardened Grand Final veterans of the Storm as the two teams square off for the silverware on Sunday night at ANZ Stadium.
Penrith are riding an extraordinary 17-match winning streak heading into their first Grand Final appearance since 2003, led by boom halfback Nathan Cleary and his father Ivan as coach.
Several other young stars have been unearthed at the foot of the mountains throughout the season, including Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton and Viliame Kikau, who returns from suspension after missing Penrith’s thrilling 20-16 preliminary final victory over the Rabbitohs.
The Panthers have only dropped three points all season and have conquered every team minus the Newcastle Knights, who they drew with early in the year.
Question marks were raised at the start of the finals series on whether the young and inexperienced side could handle the pressure of sudden-death football, but they’ve proven they can with back-to-back wins over the Roosters and Rabbitohs.
Meanwhile, Melbourne have advanced into their fourth Grand Final in the last five years as Craig Bellamy and Cameron Smith continue to set the benchmark.
Although he refuses to confirm either way, Smith is likely to retire after this game if last week’s celebrations at Suncorp were anything to go by, so Melbourne will be determined to send him off like the champion he is.
With Smith steering the side around the paddock, the Storm have been firing in attack, scoring at least 30 points in their last four victories, including their two finals triumphs over the Eels and Raiders.
Fijian flyer Suliasi Vunivalu is a proven big-game player and has scored a try in his last four finals games, while centre Justin Olam has crossed the stripe in six of his last nine matches, adding even more strike power to an already explosive backline that of course also includes Josh Addo-Carr, who is also likely playing his last game for Melbourne.
Overall, it’s shaping as an unmissable Grand Final. Penrith have been the team to beat all season, but can they produce their best football when it matters most? Melbourne have the runs on the board and all the experience, but will they be able to stop the explosive and fearless youngsters in the Panthers side?
I’ve been backing Melbourne home all season, but I’m changing my mind at the last minute. This Panthers side is special and they’ve proven time and time again they’re ready to be champions.
They’re a young side, but a lot of them have played together for years coming through the ranks. Cleary has been on fire all season and I think he’s set to lead his side to a premiership on Sunday night.
Panthers vs Storm Teams
Viliame Kikau returns from suspension for the Panthers, with Kurt Capewell dropping to the bench and Mitch Kenny out of the 17.
Brent Naden starts at centre after failing to get on the field last week as Tyrone May reverts to the bench.
Melbourne have selected the same side that beat Canberra 30-10 in the preliminary finals.
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Brent Naden 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone May 15. Kurt Capewell 16. Moses Leota 17. Zane Tetevano 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Dean Whare 20. Matt Burton 21. Spencer Leniu
Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Dale Finucane 17. Nicholas Hynes 18. Tom Eisenhuth 19. Paul Momirovski 20. Tui Kamikamica 21. Ryley Jacks
Penrith vs Storm Stats
- Panthers have won two of their last three meetings
- Panthers have won their last four matches as a home underdog by a 1-12 margin
- Josh Mansour has scored a try in seven of his last eight matches
- Melbourne has won the first half in eight of their last nine matches vs Penrith
- Suliasi Vunivalu has scored a try in his last four finals games
- Five of the last six Grand Finals have gone under the total points line
- Brian To’o has scored a try in his last three matches at ANZ Stadium
- Stephen Crichton has scored at least one try in 12 of his last 16 matches
- Justin Olam has scored at least one try in six of his last nine games
- The underdog has covered the line in four of the last five Grand Finals
Penrith vs Storm Best Bet