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Experts' View: Who'll win the grand final?

One team is pursuing a 22nd title and the other wants their third.

Sunday's grand final between South Sydney and Penrith isn't the showdown everyone was expecting when the finals started, but here we are. 

Penrith have had to do things the hard way after losing to the Rabbitohs in week one of the finals while South Sydney looked great in their two post-season matches thus far.

Before a ball is carried forward in anger, the experts at NRL.com have supplied their grand final predictions.

Experts' view - Who'll win the grand final

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

Souths to win the grand final. They dominated in the preliminary final through the middle and their backs took advantage of that momentum. Penrith had a much tougher win and could go in tired and wounded. Rabbitohs by 10.

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Brett Kimmorley (former Test halfback)

Penrith have been there and know what it is all about this time around. They've got to this stage with their defence and as we all know, defence wins premierships. Panthers by 4

Jamie Soward (Premiership winner)

I think Penrith win this weekend after the relief of getting past Melbourne. The fact their defence has stayed rock solid throughout the finals series holds them in good stead. Panthers by 8

Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers legend)

I can't not say the Rabbitohs. My brother is the physio, Benji is there in what could be his last game and another premiership, and they are an old club of mine. Rabbitohs by 6

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Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 

It’s going to be close, but Penrith will win. While they have not been scoring as many points in recent weeks, their defence has been almost impenetrable. I expect that to continue against Souths. Panthers by 8

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

Ivan Cleary’s team have the experience of playing in last year’s grand final. Many of the players have had a taste of Origin since then and their defence is the best in the NRL. Panthers by 2

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor-in-chief)

Penrith have the better defence and the grander big-game experience while Ivan Cleary would have learned plenty from the loss to the Rabbitohs a few weeks ago about how to dismantle their opposition’s attacking raids down the left edge. Panthers by 10

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

They weren’t at their best against the Rabbitohs earlier this month but have turned the corner since and will throw everything into this to go one better than last year. Panthers by 8

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Paul Zalunardo (NRL.com senior journalist)

If you can beat the Storm in September you can beat anyone. Penrith should be feeling better about themselves than was the case 12 months ago. They can keep South Sydney to 2-3 tries and Nathan Cleary can kick them to a win. Panthers by 4

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist)

Defence wins deciders and the Rabbitohs did a superb job shutting down the Panthers in week one of the finals and gave Manly nothing in the prelim until the game was dead and buried. Wayne Bennett has his men tuned to the minute. Rabbitohs by 8

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

They’ve been gritty, gutsy and extremely brave in defence this finals series. They will be again on Sunday and their attack will be on-point too. They’ll make amends for last year’s grand final loss to the Storm. Panthers by 14

Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

Superior defence and last year’s experience will prove the difference. Expecting their attack to fire as they pull away in the second half. Panthers by 14

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Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

Penrith’s lessons both from last year’s grand final and the week one loss to Souths will stand them in good stead. Panthers by 4

Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)

Have unearthed priceless self-belief with their defence in recent weeks and will have the slightest of edges in another low-scoring nailbiter. Souths won’t catch them off-guard like in week one. Panthers by 4

Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy guru)

Penrith have thumped South Sydney twice this season but they won't be complacent after being shocked by the Bunnies in week one of the finals. Their league-best defence is the key, and if it could contain a rampant Storm side last week it should be enough. Panthers by 6

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

It is going to be very tough for the Bunnies to get around the defensive resolve of the Panthers. When it comes down to committed, continuous efforts, the Panthers last two wins show they are the most likely to lift the trophy come Sunday night. Panthers by 10

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.