Fiji Bati Viliame Kikau helped the Penrith Panthers stun the Melbourne Storm 10-6 to book their place against the Rabbitohs in an all-Sydney grand final at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
Nathan Cleary faces an anxious wait to learn whether he is charged over a second-half lifting tackle on Kenny Bromwich.
The only try of the first half was scored by Stephen Crichton in just the fourth minute after Cleary showed great vision to kick from dummy half for his unmarked winger, who simply caught the ball just metres from the Storm line and put it down untouched.
The return of Luai after halftime coincided with the Panthers regaining control and he combined with second-rower Viliame Kikau to put winger Brian To’o over for a 43rd minute try after Josh Addo-Carr lost the ball on the opposite side of the field.
Cleary was unable to convert from out wide and the 10-0 lead did not seem to be enough as Melbourne lifted the intensity in a desperate bid to keep alive their hopes of back-to-back premierships.
— Penrith Panthers (@PenrithPanthers) September 25, 2021
Star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen, who was the Clive Churchill Medal winner in last year’s grand final, eventually found a way through the Penrith defence when he pounced on a Munster grubber kick behind Kikau to score in the 64th minute.
However, Penrith’s defensive resolve was unwavering and they held on to ground out a gritty 10-6 win and book back-to-back grand final appearances.
The grand final between Panthers and Rabbitohs will be played next Sunday at 8:30pm.