Panthers fans have taken some of the shine off their third-consecutive NRL premiership after booing Adam Reynolds in the post-match ceremony. The Broncos captain was a shattered man after turning in one of his worst performances of a brilliant year in Sunday night's grand final.
The Panthers scored the opening try when Reynolds decided to try a short line dropout, with Selwyn Cobbo batting the ball straight to Mitch Kenny. Reynolds also kicked out on the full from another short restart and Nathan Cleary landed the ensuing penalty.
All-in-all the veteran halfback had a night to forget as Cleary masterminded the biggest comeback in grand final history. Down 24-8 with just 15 minutes remaining, Cleary laid on two tries before scoring the match-winner to seal a 26-24 victory.
It marked Reynolds' second loss in an NRL decider, and the Broncos player couldn't hide his devastation at full-time. But there were ugly scenes when Panthers fans booed when Reynolds was called onto the stage to give his runner-up speech.
One fan wrote on social media: "Why are they booing Adam Reynolds?? Classless." Another commented: "Penrith fans proving me right by booing Reynolds as he’s called up to speak. Cleary played insane then and won that game for you guys, but no need for that from the fans."
A third wrote: "Way to go Sydney, booing Adam Reynolds! Do yourselves proud."
Adam Reynolds apologises for snubbing Panthers in speech
Perhaps the treatment goes some way to explaining why Reynolds didn't acknowledge the Panthers players in his speech. Many pointed out that the Broncos captain failed to congratulate the winners for their triumph, although it appeared to be a genuine mistake.
“Firstly I’d like to thank the NRL and Telstra. Thanks for another great season. Without you guys, none of this is possible,” he said.
“To everyone who made today possible in the background. The match officials, particularly Adam Gee, congratulations on your first referee (in a grand final).
“To the Broncos. All the boys. Keep your head up lads. It’s been one hell of a year. I love every single one of yas. To all our fans and supporters, both interstate and back home, we’re extremely sorry we couldn’t get the job done tonight, but we’ll be back bigger and stronger next year.”
After copping backlash online for failing to mention the Panthers, Reynolds took to Instagram to apologise. “This one hurts,” he wrote. “Sorry to all Bronx nation. Love you guys. Sorry we couldn’t get the job done.
“Apologies for my speech, I forgot to congratulate the Penrith Panthers. One hell of a team. Congrats on another premiership and great season. See you all back in Brisbane.”
Broncos left devastated after NRL grand final collapse
To his credit, Reynolds did mention the Panthers in an interview with Brad Fittler before the presentation. “I’m extremely proud but geez we let that one slip," he said. "Can’t fault the effort of the team but lapses in concentration, it’s a hard one to take.
“Credit to Penrith, they were fantastic, obviously led by Nathan Cleary. I’ve got no words, I can’t sum that one up.”
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters said it was "hard to get your head around what happened". He added: "There's no emotion. It's very quiet (in the sheds). I feel for all the players that gave so much, but it wasn't enough in the end.
"That second period for 20 minutes at the start of the second half is the Broncos I know. We need to do that for 80. We are not there yet, but when we do we will win premierships. That is what it is about.
"We are not far off but we are getting there. We are a lot closer now than we were 12 months ago. Would everyone agree? I think so."
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