The Roosters have scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to claim the Holden Cup premiership, leaving Penrith to wonder what could have been.
The Panthers somehow blew a 28-6 half-time lead, allowing the Roosters to dominate the second stanza and produce an unlikely victory at ANZ Stadium.
There was plenty of open football in the early exchanges but it was the Roosters who broke through first, with Joseph Manu crossing out wide to give the outsiders a 6-0 lead after 10 minutes.
The Panthers hit their straps soon after, however, with Christian Chrichton crossing out wide and then Corey Waddell pouncing on a Roosters error to put Penrith up 12-6 mid-way through the first half.
Penrith continued to pile on the pressure and a great offload from captain Oliver Clark eventually set up South Sydney-bound Braidon Burns to score out wide and extend the lead to 16-6.
The Roosters had several chances to return serve, but fell just short – including one try that was overturned by a successful Captain’s Challenge.
Penrith extended their lead when Kaide Ellis crashed over under the posts, while a try to Wayde Egan just short of half-time saw the Panthers take an impressive 28-6 lead into the break.
The Roosters needed to score first in the second half and they did just that, with captain Nat Butcher crossing in the opening minutes to reduce the deficit to 28-12.
When Sitili Tupouniua barged over a few minutes later, the Roosters were well and truly back in the game at 28-18 with still half an hour to play.
After being shocked by the two quick Roosters tries, the Panthers were able to calm the game down, but the opposition kept coming. With 14 minutes to go, a Penrith error saw Joseph Manu snare his second try, with the Panthers’ margin reduced to just four.
It brought the Grand Final to life, and when Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck scored a runaway try with seven minutes to go, the Roosters took the lead 30-28.
Dylan Edwards had a chance to level the game with a penalty goal four minutes from full-time but missed.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.