A Stephen Crichton intercept 14 minutes from full-time will forever be remembered as the moment that decided the 2021 Grand Final and secured Penrith’s third Premiership.
The Panthers won 14-12 but not before a late scare with South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds missing a sideline conversion four minutes from full-time that would have levelled the scores.
It was a Grand Final for the ages – one decided on defence in a year where blowout scorelines and attack dominated the NRL season.
Penrith’s kicking game was superb – both Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai producing gamebreaking moments with their boots that helped determine the outcome.
Cleary was named the Clive Churchill Medallist for best player on ground. In an emotional moment, it was presented by his father and coach Ivan.
After a bruising opening period, Penrith were first to score when Matt Burton found space in the 16th minute.
The Rabbitohs hit back to level the scores soon after when Cody Walker produced some of his trademark solo brilliance just four minutes later.
The Panthers took an 6-8 lead into the break when Cleary kicked a penalty goal in the 32nd minute.
Souths came out strong in the second half and were unlucky not to find the tryline, but did manage to level the scores through a penalty goal just four minutes into the period.
The Rabbitohs looked like they were about to create something down their left side when the game took a dramatic twist – Crichton intercepting a wayward Walker pass to race into Grand Final immortality.
Alex Johnston scored with just six minutes to go but Reynolds couldn’t land the conversion, leaving Penrith 14-12 up.
Reynolds attempted a two point field goal right on the bell but it fell short.
There were incredible scenes of emotion at full-time as the Panthers celebrated a hard fought victory over a newfound arch rival.
It is the club’s third Premiership after they won the title in 1991 and 2003.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.