Victory in the Trenches: The Path to NRL Grand Final Glorynrlgrandfinal,victory,trenches,glory
Victory in the Trenches: The Path to NRL Grand Final Glory

Victory in the Trenches: The Path to NRL Grand Final Glory

4 minutes, 33 seconds Read

The Battle in the Trenches: Penrith’s Dominant Defence and Brisbane’s Uphill Battle


In the lead-up to Sunday’s NRL grand final between the Penrith Panthers and the Brisbane Broncos, much of the focus has been on Penrith’s stellar defence. The Panthers have been a force to be reckoned with this season, and their defensive prowess has played a crucial role in their success. On the other hand, the Broncos face a daunting task as they try to undermine Penrith’s formula for defensive success and snatch the premiership title.

Defence: The Key to Premierships

As the saying goes, defence wins premierships, and this has been a guiding principle in rugby league for the past two decades. Since the Melbourne Storm revolutionized the game in 2006 by focusing on winning the tackle, teams with a better defensive record have overwhelmingly won the grand final. Only four teams with a worse defensive record than their grand final opponent have managed to clinch the title in the last 17 seasons. This statistic highlights the importance of a solid defence in determining the outcome of a match.

Penrith’s Impenetrable Fortress

The Panthers’ defensive record this season speaks for itself. They have conceded an average of just 13.00 points per game, in stark contrast to the Broncos’ average of 17.71 points. Since 2020, Penrith has been one of the few teams that have consistently kept their opponents to 14 points or fewer in a season. In fact, they have held their opposition to 13 points or fewer per match in three of the last four seasons.

One of the keys to Penrith’s defensive success is their ability to lay a solid platform early in attacking sets. Their formidable back three, comprised of Dylan Edwards, Brian To’o, and Sunia Turuva, excel in creating opportunities and averaging over 200 meters per game. Combined with their impressive tackle break statistics, this trio sets the stage for Penrith’s dominant defense to thrive.

Additionally, Penrith demonstrates disciplined ball control, ranking high in possession percentage and set completions. Alongside Nathan Cleary’s elite kicking game, Penrith consistently starts defensive sets in advantageous field positions, which further strengthens their defensive resolve.

Undermining Penrith’s Defence: Brisbane’s Strategies

For the Broncos to have a chance at victory, they will need to find ways to undermine Penrith’s defensive formula. Key to achieving this will be Adam Reynolds, who will need to execute a near-perfect kicking game. By strategically kicking to corners and denying Penrith the opportunity to build early momentum in their sets, Reynolds can disrupt Penrith’s defensive structure.

Additionally, Brisbane should aim to fatigue and rattle Nathan Cleary, one of the best defensive halfbacks in the league. Sending big bodies at him and applying consistent pressure may yield results in the later stages of the game.

Expansive and Creative Game Plan

The Broncos will need to adopt an expansive game plan, utilizing horizontal ball movement and creating second-phase play through offloads. By reducing Penrith’s defensive aggression and creating gaps, Brisbane’s playmakers can have the space and time they need to succeed. While the Broncos’ attacking style has been highly effective this season, it is worth noting that Penrith finished the season with superior attacking statistics, making it crucial for Brisbane to adapt and find creative ways to penetrate their defense.

The Impact of Game Breakers

Grand finals are typically marked by low-scoring affairs, making the role of individual game breakers all the more significant. For the Broncos, the young prodigy Reece Walsh will play a crucial role. With his ability to break tackles and create try-scoring opportunities, Walsh has been a standout player for Brisbane this season. His left-handed style adds an element of unpredictability that could prove decisive in unlocking Penrith’s solid defensive line.

Penrith’s Settled Approach

While Brisbane faces the need to adapt and find solutions to crack Penrith’s defense, the Panthers have the luxury of sticking to their tried and tested formula. With a settled approach and consistent defensive performance throughout the season, Penrith can maintain their focus and continue to do what they do best.

Conclusion: A Battle of Strengths and Strategies

As the NRL grand final approaches, the clash between Penrith’s dominant defence and Brisbane’s attacking prowess promises to be a captivating contest. The outcome will likely hinge on whether the Broncos can successfully undermine Penrith’s defensive formula and find creative ways to breach their line.

In the end, defence often proves to be the determining factor in achieving premiership glory. Penrith’s defensive record has been exceptional this season, and it will take a monumental effort from Brisbane to disrupt their defensive resolve. However, with their attacking flair and a game plan tailored to exploit Penrith’s weaknesses, the Broncos have the potential to create an upset. Only time will tell which team will emerge victorious from the trenches and claim the 2023 NRL premiership title.


Victory in the Trenches: The Path to NRL Grand Final Glory
<< photo by Patrick Case >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Edwards Jake

G'day, I'm Jake Edwards, the man on the street. I've been crisscrossing this great country, bringing you the human stories that make Australia what it is. From interviews with local legends to the everyday Aussie battlers, I'm here to tell your stories. So let's yarn, Australia

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