It had all the makings of a classic. The press all last week had been hyping this game as a David v. Goliath/Cinderella/Rich v. Poor/East v. West/Select cliché here encounter. Oftentimes, games as hyped as this can disappoint. Last night, I for one was not disappointed.
The Sydney City Roosters have multi-millionaires on the board, are based in an affluent area of Sydney, internationals all over the pitch and nearly all of them had played (and won) in last year’s grand final.
The “Mountain Men” of Penrith had a loyal fan base, a team of mis-fits and rejects. Even their club chairman said all they had out west was gum leaves.
Rain started falling on Telstra Stadium about a minute before kick-off and didn’t let up the entire match. The wet conditions probably prevented it from becoming an attractive game of footy, but it was still a fantastic game to watch. The scores were close and there were plenty of momentum-changing moments/highlights.
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The game finished 18-6 to the Panthers and the papers this morning are full of “battlers come good” stories. I think most impartial viewers wanted Penrith to win, being the underdogs, and they put on a performance worthy of winning the big game.
There’ll be plenty of sore bodies on both sides of Sydney today though, and not just from hangovers. Some huge hits in the game had several players wondering what day of the week it was and unable to stand on their own for minutes at a time. Referee Bill Harrigan could have sent players to the Blood Bin but that would have left about 3 people on the field.
Be interesting to see how many Panthers players get picked for the upcoming Kangaroo Tour based on last night’s performance.