Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels

Sunday October 2 | Accor Stadium | 7.30pm AEST

This is the best match-up for a tight grand final that fans could’ve hoped for as the reality is that Eels are the only team who can take it to the Panthers. 

That has been proven in season 2022, with the Eels triumphing twice over the reigning premiers.

Those two Eels’ wins came in the regular season, before the Panthers exacted revenge with an authoritative 27-8 win in week one of the finals. The Eels were right in that contest for much of the early stages, before Panthers turned up the heat in the final half hour.

There’s little doubt the Panthers are deserving favourites after winning 22 from 26 this season, and winning seven from their past eight at this venue.

The Panthers have also been unstoppable in the finals series, beating the Eels by 19 points in week one before     trouncing the Rabbitohs by 20 points last week in the preliminary final. They also know what it takes to win on the biggest stage after featuring in the last three grand finals. 

While there’s undoubtedly plenty of positives for the Panthers, it’s still hard to reconcile how they are such a short quote given they’ve lost to the Eels twice this season. 

The Eels have more than proven to be a side who can beat the best when they come out of the blocks early and bully sides into submission. The Eels must start well here and get the Panthers second-guessing, which is a a very likely scenario given their opponents have started sluggishly in recent weeks.

Another positive for the Eels is their strong recent record against the Panthers extends further with 13 of the last 16 meetings decided by a 1-12 margin.

At the juicy price, the Eels look the clear bet.

Mitch Moses will be the key for the Eels, but it will just as important for the Eels to pressure Nathan Cleary and nullify his kicking game.

The Eels will also be looking to utilise their off-loading prowess, with Junior Paulo and Ryan Matterson leading the way here to give Moses time and space to be at his play-making best.

Out wide the Eels have the firepower to trouble the often-vulnerable right edge of the Panthers.

As mentioned earlier, the Panthers are rightful favourites – but there shouldn’t be such a discrepancy in the market because the Eels can test the reigning premiers if they find their best.

Suggested bets: 2u Eels win at $3.10, 1u each on first try to Waqa Blake ($15) and Will Penisini ($21).