The first half of the 2023 NRL Grand Final was a bone-bruising affair between the Brisbane Broncos and Penrith Panthers.
A plethora of big talking points took place in the opening 40 minutes as the Panthers went into the sheds holding onto a slender 8-6 lead.
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As the teams made their way off the park, fans went and refilled their drinks as they awaited a breakdown of the first half action.
Channel 9 didn’t get the memo.
Instead of going over the remarkable first half with a fine tooth comb with their panel of experts, they brought out NBA legend Scottie Pippen instead.
The Chicago Bulls megastar is in the country as an ambassador for the NBL, but his presence on the NRL Grand Final panel raised serious eyebrows among league fans.
Sports journalist Lavender Baj wrote: “Why is Scottie Pippen on the panel what the f***.”
Another social media user wrote: “This is so embarrassing for Channel 9, the NRL and Australia … its the f***ing Grand Final … who gives a sh*t was Scottie Pippen has got to say!”
The Panthers came out firing in the opening stages of the contest as they put the Broncos to the sword.
Nerves looked to have taken their toll on the Broncos as they made error after error, but in the dying stages of the half they struck back.
Tom Flegler barged over the line, putting the ball down on the line under the posts.
The commentators called the late try a huge plus for the Broncos, who have made a mountain of errors.
“The Broncos are back in this,” Billy Slater said in commentary.
“They should be nowhere near,” Andrew Johns said.
It’s been a frenetic half with end to end action but the Panthers held their nerve and a majority of possession in the first half.
The back-to-back defending champs have had 57 per cent possession with 18 from 19 completions, while the Broncos are 13 from 21.
But the late try makes it a two point ball game which will be music to the ears of Brisbane coach Kevin Walters.