Penrith Panthers fans have been accused of a 'classless' act after the NRL grand final on Sunday night after appearing to boo Parramatta captain Clint Gutherson.
The Eels were blown off the park by a rampant Panthers outfit, going down 28-12 after trailing 28-0 and only scoring two late tries to save some face.
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Parramatta players and coaches were left absolutely shattered in the aftermath of the thrashing, but Gutherson showed his class with a humble runner-up speech.
The Eels captain was called to the stage to say a few words after full-time, congratulating the Panthers and conceding they were simply too good.
However there were unsavoury scenes at Accor Stadium when some Panthers fans booed Gutherson as he was walking to the stage.
Viewers watching at home were quick to condemn the ugly scenes on social media.
One wrote: "Booing Gutherson?? Come on guys.....and Penrith wonder why people say they are arrogant. Enjoy ur win but no need to boo now."
Another wrote: "Penrith fans booing Gutho is gross!! Don’t be sore winners!!!"
Booing Gutherson?? Come on guys.....and Penrith wonder why ppl say they are arrogant. Enjoy ur win but no need to boo now... #NRLGF
— Craig M (@diminutiverowdy) October 2, 2022
Classy Panthers fans booing Gutherson.
— billy buttons (@billy__buttons) October 2, 2022
Penrith fans booing King Gutho - harsh 😀
— Geoff F 🦅🐏🦅🦢👑 (@Bb2Geoff) October 2, 2022
Penrith fans booing Gutho is gross af!! Don’t be sore winners!!! #nrlgrandfinal
— Charlotte Ansell 🌻 (@Charl0tteAnsell) October 2, 2022
Wow Panthers fans, try not booing the losing teams captain. Stay classy guys #NRLGF
— Ali ✨ (@mcali187) October 2, 2022
— ΛNTISOCIΛL (@HawkReport) October 2, 2022
Panthers victory to inspire Parramatta's recovery
The Eels had twice defeated the Panthers in the regular season this year but found themselves completely outgunned on the big stage by their experienced rivals, who streaked away to an 18-0 lead at half-time.
While the Eels posted two late consolation tries, the Panthers' second-straight premiership was never seriously under threat.
But Gutherson said he had been heartened by post-match chats with the Panthers, who bounced back from a similar loss to claim the 2021 title.
Like the Eels did on Sunday night, the 2020 Panthers were overwhelmed by their grand final opponents in the first half and only gained the ascendancy when it was too late.
Both the 2020 Panthers and 2022 Eels were short on grand final experience; of the Parramatta 17 that lined up on Sunday, only Ryan Matterson had played in a grand final before.
Gutherson remained proud of his team despite Sunday night's result and said they could draw inspiration from their premiership foes as they looked to regroup.
"You'd like to think this feeling gives a lot of motivation. None of us have felt this," Gutherson told reporters.
"It makes you want to get back here.
"A few of the Penrith boys said that that was a lot of motivation for them when they lost a couple of years ago."
Four members of the Eels' grand final team will not be back next season - Reed Mahoney, Isaiah Papali'i, Oregon Kaufusi and Marata Niukore - but the club welcomes Josh Hodgson and Panthers forward J'maine Hopgood.
"We're losing a couple of great players but whoever steps up is going to do a job for us next year," Gutherson said.
"Not many people gave us a chance to get here four, five, six weeks ago and we proved them wrong. It's pretty good."
Panthers winger Brian To'o said he could sympathise with the Eels.
"The Parra boys obviously worked hard this year. They deserved to be in the grand final," To'o told AAP.
"They'll come out firing next year."
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