BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The Penrith Panthers scored early tries in each half then relied on their strong defense to beat the Melbourne Storm 10-6 Saturday and advance to the National Rugby League grand final against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Both Melbourne and Penrith finished the regular season with 44 points and with records of 21 wins and three losses, but the Storm had a better points differential and won the minor premiership.
On Friday, South Sydney advanced with a 36-16 win over Manly to break a string of three consecutive losses in the semifinals.
The grand final is scheduled for Brisbane on Oct. 3. It was moved from its usual location of Sydney’s Olympic stadium due to a new wave of COVID-19 affecting the city and New South Wales state.
Souths coach Wayne Bennett could make league history if he wins the title for the Rabbitohs, a team owned by actor Russell Crowe.
The 71-year-old Bennett, who coached England’s national team for two years, will attempt to win an eighth title in his 10th grand final appearance. He could also become the first coach to win with three different clubs -- he won six titles with the Brisbane Broncos and another with St. George Illawarra.
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