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And then there were two.

The 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership has come down to a battle between the two western Sydney powerhouses in their first ever Grand Final meeting.

For the Eels, the chance to break a premiership drought that stretches back to 1986. For the Panthers, a shot at back-to-back titles and a fourth overall for the club.

The Panthers dominated the regular season and put paid to Parramatta in week one of the finals to advance to the Preliminary Final where they took care of the Rabbitohs to advance to a third successive decider.

The Eels finished fourth and were the only team to beat Penrith twice during the home and away season – 22-20 in Round 9 at BlueBet Stadium and 34-10 at CommBank Stadium in Round 20.

The Rundown

Team News

Panthers: Coach Ivan Cleary has again brought Mitch Kenny into the starting side on game day with Api Koroisau to come from the bench as he has done in the past two weeks. Winger Taylan May failed to overcome a hamstring injury suffered in week one of the finals so Charlie Staines retains his place in the side. Viliame Kikau and Staines were both charged with shoulder charge offences in the win over the Rabbitohs but are free to play after attracting monetary fines only. Sean O'Sullivan is 18th Man.

Eels: Marata Niukore comes into the starting side and Ryan Matterson goes to the bench in Brad Arthur's usual game day shuffle. Tom Opacic dropped out of the extended squad on Saturday after failing to overcome a hamstring injury which also saw him miss the Eels' Preliminary Final win. Bailey Simonsson retains his place in the centres after filling in for Opacic last week. Nathan Brown has been recalled to the bench for his first game since Round 17, replacing Bryce Cartwright, who is 18th Man.

Team Lists


  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie Staines
    Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
  • Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack Tago
    Centre for Eels is number 3 Will Penisini
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
    Centre for Eels is number 4 Bailey Simonsson
  • Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
    Winger for Eels is number 5 Waqa Blake
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Dylan Brown
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
    Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses


  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
    Prop for Eels is number 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 14 Mitch Kenny
    Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
  • Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
    Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
    2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Isaiah Papali'i
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Eels is number 17 Marata Niukore


  • Interchange for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Interchange for Eels is number 13 Ryan Matterson
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
    Interchange for Eels is number 14 Nathan Brown
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer Leniu
    Interchange for Eels is number 15 Jake Arthur
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman Salmon
    Interchange for Eels is number 16 Oregon Kaufusi


  • Replacement for Panthers is number 18 Sean O'Sullivan
    Replacement for Eels is number 18 Bryce Cartwright

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
  • Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
  • Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins

Last updated:

Key Match-ups

Nathan Cleary v Mitchell Moses: After a couple of shaky moments in the first half in Townsville, Moses found his groove and steered the Eels into the decider with a calm and composed second term. Cleary was at his calculating best against the Bunnies, coming up with one try, one try assist and some brilliant kicking to carry his team into a third straight grand final. The game’s premier playmaker now has the chance to cement his legacy with another grand final victory and will look to roll that into World Cup glory with the Kangaroos. The kicking game of the two No.7s holds the key to victory on the game’s biggest stage and the man who retains his composure best will take home a premiership ring and quite possibly a Clive Churchill Medal for good measure.

Sportsbet betting preview: Panthers v Eels

James Fisher-Harris v Reagan Campbell-Gillard: Wind these two enforcers up and watch them go in the early exchanges. The Panthers’ forward leader averages 146 metres per game this season and sets the tone with his powerhouse charges and ability to draw in defenders and slip an offload. Campbell-Gillard was magnificent for the Eels in their Preliminary Final victory over the Cowboys, running for 149 metres and scoring two tries as the blue and gold progressed to their first decider since 2009. Both men seem likely to feature at the World Cup for their respective nations and will carry huge momentum into the showpiece event if they can cap the season with a premiership.

Reagan's coming in hot

Stat Attack

The Panthers have won 66 of their 77 matches since the start of the 2020 season, with 10 losses and one draw. Their finals record across the past three seasons is seven wins and two losses, which includes the defeat in the 2020 decider at the hands of the Storm. Their only other finals loss came against Souths in Week 1 of last year’s finals. After one loss and three narrow wins in the 2021 finals the Panthers have flexed their muscles in 2022 with a 19-point win over the Eels in the Qualifying Final and a 32-12 win over the Rabbitohs in the Preliminary Final.

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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