Commentator Phil Gould has doubled down on his view that the Panthers could have been considered the superior outfit in the first half of the NRL grand final, despite heavy criticism on social media.
The Storm raced away to a 22-0 lead at half-time, before the Panthers staged a thrilling second half comeback - falling just short in a 26-20 defeat.
'SHAME ON YOU’: NRL fans rage over 'disgusting' Smith moment
‘QUESTIONABLE’: Double Bunker drama rocks NRL grand final
But Melbourne fans were perplexed as to why former Penrith General Manager, and current Channel Nine commentator Gould, appeared to be heaping praise on the Panthers when they were losing.
“I honestly feel the Panthers are on top,” Gould said during the first-half.
“The run of the play I feel like they’re doing better than the Melbourne Storm but the Storm have been able to keep the scoreboard kicking with penalty try and penalty goal and now intercept.
“So the scoreboard is not as bad as what it obviously feels for them.”
After backlash on social media, Gould doubled down with his take on the game.
“Congratulations to Storm. 2020 Premiers. However, GF could easily have gone to Panther,” he wrote on Twitter following the game.
“Half-time score did not reflect 1st half action. Panther 20-4 second half, showed possibilities. Panther ran out of time. Cameron Smith said ‘If it goes another 2 mins, I just don’t know.’”
Gould also told his critics to “go back and listen” to the commentary after claiming he was just being honest.
“They need to go back and listen (to the commentary) again. They only hear what they want to hear,” he said on 2GB radio Monday morning.
“There is a difference between bias and honesty, I’m always honest.”
Fans criticise Phil Gould commentary
Despite his insistence the Panthers could have usurped the Storm in the grand final, NRL players, experts and fans took so social media during the game to call out Gould.
NRL star Josh Dugan said: “Is Gus watching it or is his heart talking? Melbourne are well and truly on top. Their defence is on song.”
“Cmon @storm !!! All over them!!! (Unless you were listening to the commentary ) 22-0,” Aussie cricket star Glenn Maxwell wrote.
Courier Mail Rugby League writer Travis Meyn wrote: “Phil Gould Pro Panther commentary. Wow.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.