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Sydney's east v west in NRL decider

By Brent Read 28/09/2003 08:04:18 PM Comments (0)

Sydney's east will meet west in this year's National Rugby League grand final after Penrith set up a showdown with the Sydney Roosters in the premiership decider.

The Panthers surged into next Sunday's season finale with a 28-20 win over the New Zealand Warriors at Telstra Stadium.

It wasn't their most impressive performance of the season, but it was enough to complete a remarkable two year journey for John Lang's side from wooden spooners to grand finalists.

"This time last year I was back home fishing," said Penrith five-eighth Preston Campbell, who joined the Panthers this season from Cronulla.

"To be playing in a first grade grand final, it's a big change from fishing for yellow belly. I couldn't have hoped for any more.

"The boys weren't going well the last couple of years. I'm excited for them, especially the young blokes who have come through.

"We just have to try to beat the Roosters to the finish line next week."

The Panthers got off to a flying start against the Warriors, surging to a 10-4 lead inside the game's opening half hour with tries to Luke Lewis and Rhys Wesser.

Lewis was having an impact at both ends of the ground, also saving a certain Warriors try when he jolted the ball free from Vinnie Anderson's grasp with a desperate tackle as the Warriors centre was about to score.

The Warriors, despite playing their worst half in more than a month, somehow managed to level the scores at 10-10 at the break following some great work from Ali Lauiti'iti and Stacey Jones which led to a Richard Villasanti try.

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