NRL: Penrith Panthers dominate Grand Final rematch over Brisbane Broncos, Reece Walsh injured

Brisbane Broncos fullback Reece Walsh has lasted only a few minutes, before failing a head check, as Penrith Panthers overwhelmed his Brisbane Broncos side 34-12 in a rematch of last year's NRL Grand Final.

With the Broncos hot on attack, Walsh came into the Broncos backline, providing a trademark tap-pass to keep the move alive, but copping big hit from Panthers centre Taylan May that saw the two players clash heads.

The former NZ Warriors star stayed down with a big cut around his left eye. He left the field for a head check, which he failed, before returning to the sideline, but heading back to the locker room with vision problems.

Reece Walsh suffers an early injury against Penrith Panthers.
Reece Walsh suffers an early injury against Penrith Panthers. Photo credit: Getty Images

"No-one wants to see one of the best players go off, but I thought it was an accident," observed Penrith coach Ivan Cleary. "I thought he [May] was actually trying to pull out of the tackle.

"Reece Walsh moves pretty fast, so these things can happen. It's unfortunate for Reece."

May was put on report for a late tackle, but the loss of Walsh was just the start of a forgettable night for Brisbane, already missing veteran half Adam Reynolds and barnstorming front-rower Payne Haas.

They took an early lead from the subsequent penalty, but conceded the next 34 points, including try doubles to centre Izack Tago and winger Brian To'o.

Star half Nathan Cleary converted five of Penrith's six tries, before the Broncos saved face with tries to wingers Deine Mariner and Jesse Arthars. By then, the contest was well over.

"We faced a bit of adversity there early and we didn't handle it as well as we should've," said Broncos coach Kevin Walters. "The second half was better, we got into some rhythm, but the game was gone by then and it was too late.

"I thought our start was actually pretty good, until we had to make those adjustments, and as a team, we didn't handle that too well."

Penrith now have back-to-back wins, after dropping their season-opener against Melbourne Storm, while Brisbane have one win from their three games and will lose Walsh for their Queensland derby against North Queensland.

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