NRL News: Klein gets GF gig, Rabbits won't take trainer feud further, Lane lashes league for salary cap delay
Ashley Klein has edged out Grant Atkins to take the whistle in the NRL grand final between Penrith and Parramatta, his first decider as the sole referee. Kasey Badger has been appointed to referee the NRLW grand final between Newcastle and Parramatta which precedes the NRL showdown on Sunday at Accor Stadium. The 43-year-old Klein refereed all three State of Origin matches this year. He previously adjudicated the 2018 grand final with Gerard Sutton. “I am really looking forward to Sunday. I actually live in western Sydney and you can feel it in the street already that everybody is really excited,” Klein said.
Penrith are through to a third straight grand final after coming from behind to beat South Sydney 32-12 and set up a promoter's dream with a battle-of-the-west NRL decider against Parramatta. © Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS Penrith have advanced to their third successive NRL grand final after a 32-12 win over South Sydney.
In a drama-charged preliminary final, Penrith trailed 12-0 until four minutes before halftime but led 18-12 soon after the break to take control of the match.
Souths winger Taane Milne also became the first player to be sent off in a finals match in 28 years for a high shot on Panthers prop Spencer Leniu in the final 20 minutes.
The tale of two grand final journeys for the Parramatta Eels
Dare to dream, Parramatta fans. Dare to dream. That’s my advice ahead of a historic day on Sunday when the Parramatta Eels will contest both the NRL men’s and women’s grand finals. I’m still very much at a loss for what this means for me as a Parramatta fan, but I will do my best. Back in 2016 when it was discovered that the Eels had been involved in systemic and ongoing breaches of the salary cap, the club was in chaos. There was a 12-point penalty imposed by the NRL, five board members were deregistered and the club was hit with a $1 million dollar fine.
An emotional Leniu's fitness will now likely be a concern ahead of the grand final after he was sent for a second head injury assessment and didn't return.
Penrith will also sweat on the availability of Viliame Kikau and Jarome Luai, with coach Ivan Cleary confident neither of the pair will face bans for hits on Campbell Graham.
For now though, nothing though will spoil the Panthers' party as they gave themselves every chance of becoming only the second team to win back-to-back titles in the NRL-era.
"It feels awesome. It's fantastic," coach Cleary said.
"It doesn't happen every day to make any grand final.
"We've worked so hard and it's been a long season. You have so much go into it and so many ups and downs."
Nathan Cleary was brilliant as always, Kikau powerful in defence and Dylan Edwards superb at the back in both attack and defence.
Grand Final Team Lists Late Mail: Brown's shock recall, Opacic doubt, Staines in for May, Penitani hopeful
Penrith winger Charlie Staines has retained his spot in Ivan Cleary‘s side for the Grand Final while Parramatta have recalled unwanted forward Nathan Brown. First-choice Penrith winger Taylan May has been ruled out of Sunday’s clash with a hamstring injury, meaning Staines has held onto his spot. Staines, who has played 14 games for the Panthers this season, earned a recall for Penrith’s preliminary final win over South Sydney with May sidelined with injury and suspension. Penrith have named interchange prop Spencer Leniu after he was sent for two head injury assessments last week.
But after three years of dominance and never needing to overturn a deficit of more than 10 points, they were made to work hard for this win.
They were denied three times by the bunker in the first half, as Souths scored the opening two tries of the game.
The Panthers finally stood up, with Brian To'o providing a play almost as crucial as Stephen Crichton's intercept in last year's grand final.
After a quick Kikau play-the-ball allowed Api Koroisau to dart over from dummy-half in the 37th minute, To'o picked up a dropped ball from Graham and raced 80 metres to score on the siren,
His run included an almighty fend on Cody Walker that skittled the Souths' defence, and turned what could have been an 18-6 lead for the Rabbitohs into a 12-12 deadlock.
And when Kikau produced a charge down on a Lachlan Ilias kick moments after the break and Nathan Cleary grubber-kicked for Leniu, the game was as good as done.
NRL and NRLW grand finals 2022: Everything you need to know about Penrith vs Parramatta and Eels vs Knights
Everything you need to know as the Parramatta Eels take on the Penrith Panthers in the NRL grand final, and the Eels' NRLW side meet the Newcastle Knights in the women's decider.There are three massive matches on the day, the State Championship decider between the winners of the second-tier NSW and Queensland Cup competitions, the NRLW grand final, and the NRL grand final.
Cleary also scored a late four-pointer of his own as Penrith ran away with it, while his kicking again terrorised South Sydney's wingers.
Edwards produced several crucial kick returns to put Penrith on the front foot with his 230 metres and he pulled off a number of tackles as the last line of defence.
In comparison, the Panthers managed to keep Latrell Mitchell quiet, with his only real impact coming when he helped put Richie Kennar over for a try on the left wing.
Mitchell, Kennar, Graham and Milne were all regularly hit hard in the first half, while Cody Walker scored Souths' first try but didn't have his usual influence.
It came as Souths again failed to make use of a preliminary-final appearance, having reached this stage for a fifth straight year with no title.
"I come in here with optimism. And when we were 12-0 up I was optimistic," coach Jason Demetriou said.
"The competitor in me wants to hate Penrith. I really do. But the coach in me is so respectful of what they do.
"And it's a credit to Ivan and their club and what they've been able to produce for the last three years.
"They're the benchmark and they're going to be tough to beat next week."
Luai in strife for offensive Instagram post as Fisher-Harris unloads vicious 'Parra are our sons' sledge on Eels .
Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai is in hot water after posting an offensive term on Instagram hours after the NRL Grand Final triumph over Parramatta. Luai posted an image on Instagram of himself celebrating with teammate Jaeman Salmon in the early hours of Monday morning with the caption “My n—er.” The 25-year-old Samoan international deleted the post hours later but he is likely to be sanctioned by the NRL and his club. He could face a ban from match at the World Cup along with Samoan teammate Luciano Leilua after he was charged over an alleged domestic violence incident on Monday afternoon.