Otago Daily Times
Panthers carry streak into final
SYDNEY: Penrith advanced to the NRL grand final with its 2016 win over South Sydney securing a showdown with Melbourne next week.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said it would be a ‘‘dream’’ to win an NRL premiership with son Nathan after the Panthers defeated South Sydney 2016 to earn that chance.
On Saturday night, Penrith’s magic number emerged as it achieved a recordequalling 17thstraight win to advance to its first grand final in 17 years.
In a tough preliminary final at ANZ Stadium, the Panthers kept the Rabbitohs at arm’s length in front of a crowd of 30,116 — the biggest NRL attendance in Sydney this season.
Their hot streak is the longest on the road to a grand final in NRL history, but for coach Cleary, the job is not done yet. Another win with son Nathan, against Melbourne on Sunday week, would make the Cleary dream a reality.
‘‘The dream is to win
it,’’ coach Cleary said.
‘‘That’s the dream. ‘‘I feel extremely happy and you can’t win one unless you get in it, so we’ll just take time to absorb everything that happened tonight and work our way through the week. Can’t wait.’’
Saturday’s match was the third preliminary final in a row in which Souths had come away emptyhanded.
The Panthers led 146 at halftime and managed to hold on as star halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds tried all they could to keep the Rabbitohs alive.
Meanwhile, the guessing game over Cameron Smith’s future will continue for at least another week after Melbourne overpowered Canberra 3010 on Friday night.
The evergreen Smith
(37) may not have announced whether this season will mark his swansong but the stage is set for the 19season veteran to have a fairytale farewell after the Storm qualified for its fourth grand final in five years.
The victory was setup by a whirlwind start at Suncorp Stadium.
Halfback Jahrome Hughes was inspirational as Melbourne raced to a point a minute 240 lead in the preliminary final and the Raiders never recovered, ensuring their 26year title drought continues.
Hughes set up three tries as Melbourne snapped Canberra’s fivegame winning run and sealed its 20th straight win in Queensland in front of 37,112 fans.
The Raiders came out firing after trailing 246 at halftime but, in the end, their dream of booking backtoback grand finals came unstuck at their bogey venue Suncorp Stadium where they have not won since 2010. — AAP