Stephen Crichton’s perfectly timed intercept was the defining play of the 2021 NRL Grand Final.
HOLYYYYY SNATCH 🤯
— NRL (@NRL) October 3, 2021
This uncharacteristic error by the reliable Walker cost his side greatly in their pursuit of victory, given his later hookup with Johnston resulted in a missed conversion from Adam Reynolds that would have re-tied the arm wrestle.
Despite this blunder, the Rabbitohs still had a chance to tie the game as their skipper launched a two-point field goal attempt in the dying stages, but the outgoing Bunny remained unsuccessful as his attempt fell well short.
When asked about Crichton's heroic play after the game, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary alluded to the fact that he and his staff had been drilling the team in how to capitalise on such opportunities and that back’s act was one that he had been reinforced through many hours in the training paddock.
“Our edge guys have practiced that situation, I don’t know how many times. Every single week,” Cleary said during his post match press-conference.
“Credit to Cameron Ciraldo who runs our defence, Andrew Webster who runs our attack. We train for it, and when it comes off in the big moments, he [Crichton] has that ability to be able to do that, but he’s trained for that too.
“It’s a beautiful moment when that happens. That was surreal. That was just gold.”
When commenting about the moment, Crichton relayed Cleary’s sentiment and added how his defensive duties were emphasised in the lead up to the Grand Final, given his several position changes over the course of the season.
“I moved from fullback to centre to wing. I guess just sticking to our principles and that was the read that came out of it,” Crichton told Channel Nine after the final whistle.
“Having Walker there he is one of the best in the league and eyes for the footy and space to put their players in.
“We did video on that during the week and I was there at the right time.”
The victory saw the Panthers realise their full potential as they redeemed their 2020 Grand Final loss by bringing the Provan-Summons trophy back to the foot of the Blue Mountains for the first time since 2003.