Dylan Edwards isn’t the flashiest player in Penrith’s NRL juggernaut, but the fullback’s huge importance to the Panthers was on display again as the reigning premiers cruised into the grand final on Saturday night.
Edwards was at his towering best as Penrith beat South Sydney 32-12 at Accor Stadium to set up a grand final clash with bitter western Sydney rivals Parramatta.
The Panthers will battle for back-to-back premierships against the Eels at Accor Stadium next Sunday night.
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Edwards racked up 287 running metres, recorded 14 tackles and was at his best defensively as the Panthers cruised to victory over the Rabbitohs to secure a third straight grand final.
“He’s crazy,” Nathan Cleary told Nine after the game.
“I’m really happy that he’s getting the awards he deserves this year.
“We’ve known how good he is for a while and I absolutely love playing alongside him.
Phil Gould is in awe of Edwards’ rise
“I wish we could have videotaped him from the embryonic stage to … the way he trained and the perseverance he showed just to become the player he is,” Gould said.
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“He’s not that silky smooth ball player, creative type player. He just gives 100% every run, every tackle. He’s the minister of defense. That’s why the Panthers defensive line is always so well organized. And whenever someone needs to be there, he’s there every time .”
Paul Gallen called Edwards “an absolute genius”.
“I was talking before the game about him and Latrell Mitchell and the differences between them. But I promise you right now … the Penrith Panthers wouldn’t trade him for the world,” Gallen said.
“He’s an absolutely outstanding player. Effort all the time.”
“They wouldn’t trade him for anybody — Latrell or (James) Tedesco, nobody. They love him.”
Trailing 12-0 after 19 minutes, the Panthers were denied early by Bunker in controversial circumstances.
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But Apisai Koroisau converted tries and Brian To’o could be seen battling to level the score at 12-12 at half-time.
Penrith then ran away with the game in the second half with tries from Spencer Lenia, Izack Tago and Cleary as well as a Cleary penalty goal.
The Cleary penalty goal followed Taane Milne’s shocking high shot on Lenia which resulted in the South Sydney winger being sent off.
The Panthers are sweating on the big final availability of Lenia (concussion) and Viliame Kikau who was reported for a shoulder charge on Campbell Graham.
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