Righto, time to take a deep breath.
Without being caption obvious, it wasn’t the NRL Grand Final that Panthers fans were hoping for was it.
How they got within 6 points was remarkable.
I backed the Panthers to win on Sunday night, 17 straight wins and a victory against the Storm earlier in the season had me convinced that this young side had all the ingredients to get the job done.
To be fair, the Storm were too good.
As much as I'd like to blame referee Gerard Sutton, reality is there will be no excuses from the way I see it, Melbourne dominated early and set up too much of a lead.
If the game went an extra minute or two, then Penrith no doubt score again, they just ran out of time.
The great thing for Panthers fans is that often, you have to lose one before you win one.
The two great powerhouses of the competition over the past 15 years, the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters have shown us that, well sort of.
Melbourne, aside from their remarkable win in 1999, well they lost to the Broncos in 2006. They came back the next year and beat the Sea Eagles in the decider, of course to later have it stripped off them for salary cap breaches.
The Roosters too lost in 2010 prior to 3 premierships in the next 9 years.
This Panthers side is young and will be better for the experience and have already been installed as premiership favourites for 2021.
They of course will be without departing skipper, James Tamou who will be with Wests next season.
Outside of that, the nucleus of this Panthers side looks well in tact and they'll have leadership options in Nathan Cleary and perhaps Isaah Yeo.
2020 saw significant improvement in a number of their individuals. Edwards, Crichton, Luai, Koroisau & Kikau, just to name a few.
And what about Nathan Cleary, perhaps unlucky not to win a Dally M medal and now unquestionably among the games most elite.
One thing is for sure, I may have done my money on Penrith on Sunday night, but I'll get it all back and more by sticking with them in 2021.
Barring significant injury to key players, next year will be Penrith's year.
Let's hope this articles ages very, very well!
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