Panthers aim for unique slice of history

J’maine Hopgood and Brandon Wakeham with the NSW Cup trophy. Photo: NRL Images.
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The Penrith Panthers will have a chance at becoming the first team in 40 years to win three NSWRL competitions – the NSW Cup, Jersey Flegg Cup and SG Ball Cup – in the same season at the NSWRL Grand Final day at CommBank Stadium on Sunday.

The Panthers will take on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the Grand Final for The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup; and the Newcastle Knights in the Jersey Flegg Cup decider.

The club already has the SG Ball Cup in their trophy cabinet after beating the Sydney Roosters in May.

The only club to win the same three competitions in the same season in the 57 years since all competitions have been running together (NSW Cup 1908; Jersey Flegg Cup 1961; SG Ball Cup 1965) is Balmain Tigers in 1982.

Penrith, who last claimed an NSW Cup premiership in 2017, just missed out on claiming the Minor Premiership to Newtown but were the first team through to the Grand Final after beating the Jets in the Major Semi-final.

They boast plenty of NRL experience with halfback Sean O’Sullivan filling in for NRL No.7 Nathan Cleary this season, while a host of other players have had a taste of first grade including Christian Crichton, Robert Jennings, Jack Cole, Sunia Turuva, Kurt Falls, Soni Luke and Matt Eisenhuth.

The Panthers will look to send several departing players out on a high note with O’Sullivan signing for Redcliffe Dolphins from next season while captain J’maine Hopgood is moving on to Parramatta Eels.

The Bulldogs have also had recent success in the NSW Cup after winning the competition in 2018 and have been in scintillating form after winning three elimination finals to make the decider.

They also have NRL talent at their disposal with captain and halfback Brandon Wakeham producing three try assists and a line break assist in the Preliminary Final win over the Jets, while winger Jayden Okunbor scored two tries, had a try assist and ran for 168m.

Penrith also has a chance at success in the Jersey Flegg Cup decider after beating Minor Premiers Sydney Roosters in the Preliminary Final.

Mavrik Geyer and Tom Cant with the Jersey Flegg trophy. Photo: NRL Images.

Newcastle Knights were the first team to book their place in the Grand Final after beating the Roosters and boast Under 19s NSW prop Max Bradbury in their line-up. The Penrith team includes Mavrik Geyer, the son of former premiership-winning Panther Mark Geyer, and halfback Isaiya Katoa, who steered the SG Ball Cup team to victory and has signed with the Dolphins from 2023.

The other match being played on the NSWRL Grand Final day will be the Presidents Cup decider between Maitland Pickers and Hills Bulls. The Presidents Cup is a knockout competition to determine the champion, semi-professional club from four competitions across NSW.

The Pickers, who were the last team to win the Presidents Cup when a modified version of the competition was held in 2020, claimed the Denton Engineering Cup in Newcastle. They have former NRL halfback Brock Lamb in their team and led the Denton Engineering Cup in both attack and defence.

Hills Bulls claimed the Ron Massey Cup in Sydney and boasted the second-best attack and best defence of the competition. They also have a strong team with captain Brad Keighran, the brother of Sydney Roosters centre Adam Keighran, being named the Ron Massey Cup Player of the Year at the Brad Fittler Medal.

All three matches will be live streamed on NSWRL TV.

The NSWRL, in conjunction with the NRL, announced a ticketing initiative which will allow Rugby League fans who attend the NRL Preliminary Final between Penrith and South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday 24 September to also attend the NSWRL Grand Final day. Fans just need to retain their ticket and scan at the ground at CommBank Stadium.

Additional tickets for the NSWRL Grand Final day can be purchased via Ticketek and are $10 for adults, $5 for juniors (4-18 years) and concessions, and $25 for a family of four; free (3 years and under).

Sunday 25 September, CommBank Stadium

Presidents Cup Final
11am: Maitland Pickers v Hills Bulls

Jersey Flegg Cup Grand Final
1pm: Newcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers

The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup Grand Final
3.10pm: Penrith Panthers v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

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