NRL talking points: Melbourne crowned champions with win over Penrith

We’ve looked at the talking points from the 2020 NRL Grand Final. 

Penrith Panthers 20-26 Melbourne Storm

Melbourne Storm claimed their fourth premiership after a clinical first half display against the Penrith Panthers.

The Storm led 22-0 at the break after an early penalty try, a Suliasi Vunivalu intercept and a sniping Cameron Smith score, his first Grand Final try.

Captain Smith, in possibly his last NRL game of an illustrious career ended with a personal haul of 14 points, which equalled Craig Fitzgibbon’s 2002 record as the most by a player in a Grand Final during the NRL era.

Ryan Papenhuyzen grabbed a solo score just after half-time to seal the game, ensuring he deservedly claimed the Clive Churchill medal and became the sixth Storm player  to do so after Billy Slater (twice), Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis and Brett Kimmorley.

For the Panthers, after a Brian To’o try was controversially allowed to stand early in the second half, they fought back with late tries from Stephen Crichton, Josh Mansour and Nathan Cleary.

However it was the scoreless opening period that did the damage as they could not breach an impressive Melbourne defence.

Brent Naden replaced Tyrone May in the centres at the interval gave Penrith a better attacking option, possibly proving that he should have started the decider.

Following the match, the State of Origin squads were finalised with the Storm’s Josh Addo-Carr and Papenhuyzen linking up with Brad Fittler’s Blues and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Brenko Lee, Christian Welch, Felise Kaufusi and Cameron Munster making the Maroons side.

Despite their defeat, the Panthers were rewarded with Kurt Capewell joining Queensland and Stephen Crichton, Liam Martin, Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai and Isaah Yeo picked by New South Wales.

Stat of the match: 42 – Cameron Smith has now scored 42 points in his eight Grand Final appearances, the most of any player in premiership history.

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