Having won two Grand Finals in a row, the Penrith Panthers entered the 2023 season looking to become the first team in the modern era to win three straight Grand Finals, a monumental goal in not only the 10 meter era, but the salary cap era.
The Panthers were outstanding in the regular season, never looking like they would finish outside of the top two clubs in the competition. They would claim their third minor premiership[ in four years in the last round of the seasons defeating the North Queensland Cowboys and overtaking the Brisbane Broncos.
The Panthers would take on the Broncos in the 2023 Grand Final, and the club would get off to a great start. They dominated field position and possession, while scoring the first try of the match, and following that up with a penalty goal. For all their dominance however, the Broncos managed to pull within two points just before half time with a try between the sticks.
The Broncos exploded out of the gates after half time, with Ezra Mam scoring three brilliant break away tries. All of a sudden the game looked out of reach for the Panthers, with the Broncos roaring away to a 24-8 lead with 20 minutes remaining in the match.
Then, the comeback began!
A break by Nathan Cleary was finished off by prop Moses Leota. Cleary backed that play up with a brilliant 40/20 kick. Stephen Crichton would score his 4th try in his 4th straight Grand Final, and with just two minutes remaining in the match Nathan Cleary would break the Broncos on their own try line and cross under the posts to complete a record breaking comeback in an NRL Grand Final, giving the Panthers a 26-24 victory and becoming the first team in the modern era to win three straight Grand Finals.
The Penrith Panthers – 2023 Grand Final Team
1 Dylan Edwards
2 Sunia Taruva
3 Izack Tago
4 Stephen Crichton
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Moses Leota
9 Mitch Kenny
10 James Fisher-Harris
11 Scott Sorensen
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Jack Cogger
15 Lindsay Smith
16 Spencer Leniu
17 Luke Garner
18 Tyrone Peachey
Coach: Ivan Cleary
Penrith Panthers 26
Tries: Mitch Kenny, Moses Leota, Stephen Crichton, Nathan Cleary
Goals: Stephen Crichton 1/1, Nathan Cleary 4/4
Brisbane Broncos 24
Tries: Thomas Flegler, Ezra Mam 3
Goals: Adam Reynolds 4/4
Nathan Cleary was named the winner of the Clive Churchill Medal but many players stood out in this match. Stephen Crichton helped turn the game around as did Moses Leota. Dylan Edwards run for 170 meters in the first half alone, while for the Brisbane Broncos Ezra Mam’s hat-trick, as well as Payne Hass and Patrick Carrigan all would have been worthy winners of the award as well.
The win made this current generation of Penrith Panthers unquestionably the greatest team in Rugby League modern era.
Lets watch the highlights of the match!