Sydney's tough grand final loss puts onus on Swans to bounce back fast amid echoes of Port Adelaide in 2007
Sydney's awful grand final performance has echoes of another big grand final demolition by Geelong that derailed a promising young side 15 years ago. Andrew McGarry takes a look at the Swans' grand final horribilis and what happens next for Sydney.An exciting team from outside Victoria and filled with young talent has made the decider a year or two earlier than expected, and been demolished by an untouchable Geelong outfit, who have broken a more than decade-long wait for a flag.
The NRL grand final was back in Sydney for the first time in three years, but it ended with more pain for Parramatta's long-suffering fans. © Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS Parramatta fans far outweighed their western Sydney rivals Penrith at the NRL grand final.
Hearts were always going to be broken when neighbours Penrith and Parramatta collided in the first true western Sydney derby grand final in more than 30 years, with that conflict even occurring among families.
Take lifelong Eels fan David Richards for example, who chaperoned two granddaughters to the Accor Stadium showpiece.
Most unfortunately for him, they were clad in Panther black.
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.
"My daughter married a Panthers fan and I couldn't swing the young ones to the Eels," he said.
"You always want the best for your family but hopefully they're going home sad tonight."
Eels fans far outnumbered their counterparts with the concourse a sea of blue and gold in the early afternoon, although they certainly had reason to be early with their NRLW side contesting that decider.
Some 42,000 fans had entered the ground for the women's clash, but there wasn't a spare seat by kick-off of the men's.
Probably the most colourful character was a Parramatta fan dressed as biblical figure Moses - an homage to star halfback Mitchell Moses - holding a sign reading "Eels shall win thy premiership".
Panthers fan Gary Tarrant admitted it looked a pro-Eels crowd, but said his club's football would do the talking.
Api to wait: Panthers undecided on Koroisau role as Cleary praise tough Parra route to decider
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has said that he will wait until game day before deciding whether to start the Grand Final with his star hooker, Api Koroaisau, on the field. Mitch Kenny, usually the backup, has begun the four of the last five games to soak up the early pressure before Koroisau entered later in the first half, but in the pre-match press conference, Cleary refused to rule out a switch back to the status quo for the biggest game of the year. “It’s something that we never really had as a plan, but just kind of happened,” he said of the switch. “Honestly, from week to week I don’t know what the best way to go is.
He referenced comments from star Panther Jarome Luai, who suggested Parramatta should call Penrith "daddy" such is their dominance.
"They've probably got the crowd numbers but you heard what Luai said, we're in charge now," he said.
One thing the rival fans could agree on was a love of Jimmy Barnes' pre-match entertainment, the whole crowd uniting the belt out 'Working Class Man' together in a truly spiritual moment.
Any hopes the 1980s-feel was some sort of omen for Parramatta given they haven't won a flag since that decade were snuffed pretty early with the Penrith onslaught.
Their fans came in confident, but they must have been nervous once the game began given they haven't won since 1986, and have lost two grand finals since.
Lifelong Parramatta fan John Hanna has been through it all, including the Eels' 1981 premiership where celebrations included burning a Cumberland Oval grandstand down.
10 Highest Paid NRL Players for 2022
An Aussie institution, NRL runs through the blood of our nation, so it should come as no surprise that the league’s biggest stars are raking in the big bucks. Forget the scores, the commentary and the replays, we want to know who are the highest paid NRL players for 2022, and we’ve done some digging […]Related: These are the highest-paid F1 driver’s for 2022.
"I remember them all - I was there the night we burned down the grandstand," he said.
"Hopefully we don't have to burn this one down too."
As loud as the cheers were for Parramatta's arrival to the field, the boos that greeted the Panthers packed far more decibels.
But the rarest breed of supporter were Newcastle fans, in attendance to see their NRLW side win their first title.
Hannah Jackson, who travelled from the Hunter for the game, said it was more than worth the trip.
"We didn't win a game last season … it's hard not to be proud of this team," she said.
The NRL thinks 25,000 buckets of chips, 100,000 beers and 40,000 pre-mixed spirit drinks would be consumed throughout the day, made possibly by the 3000 staff working the event.
Nearly 1000 COVID tests were performed to gain access to the inner-sanctum 'clean zone', which includes the teams' dressing rooms.
There's always next year: Long-range fearless predictions for 2023 NRL season .
Meta has issued a warning over 400 malicious apps, which are putting social media accounts at risk.