NRL Grand Final 2021: Sad truth behind Adam Reynolds’ late miss
The stage was set for Adam Reynolds to shine in his last outing for Souths, but NRL pundits believe he was hampered at the death.
If South Sydney star Adam Reynolds’ unsuccessful conversion attempt in the 75th minute of the NRL Grand Final hadn’t already broken the hearts of Bunnies fans, they were fully snapped in half when the halfback’s two-point field goal attempt with 50 seconds to spare fell short.
Reynolds, who became the Rabbitohs’ top point scorer in the club’s history this season, has been reliable with the boot throughout his time in cardinal and myrtle and is one of the best kickers in the competition, both in general play and off the tee.
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But his conversion attempt after Alex Johnston scored in the corner sailed past the right hand upright and failed to level the scores late in the game, as Penrith held on for an enthralling 14-12 victory.
The 31-year-old was taken off Souths’ goalkicking duties in their preliminary final win over Manly because of a groin injury, as youngster Blake Taaffe took over.
Reynolds was nursing the groin injury throughout the week leading up the Grand Final but declared himself right to kick for goal with the Bunnies’ second premiership in seven years on the line.
It’s impossible to prove Reynolds’ groin complaint hampered his conversion attempt or field goal effort, but NRL pundits speculated it may have played a part in the wayward kicks.
Speaking on Channel 9’s broadcast after the game, Peter Sterling empathised with Reynolds, and lamented just how cruel rugby league can be.
“I wonder how Adam felt,” Sterling said. “He’s had that groin problem, he didn’t kick last week.
“I know he’s played 75-and-a-half minutes, so he’d be warmed up and ready to go.
“But he’s still the player I’d want in that situation to try.
“I know he missed that one and it can be such an unfair game.”
NSW coach Brad Fittler also weighed in, claiming the stars simply weren’t aligned for Reynolds to nail a two-point field goal from the 40m line.
“At that time of the game when you’re fatigued and have a groin injury, it was going to be the greatest kick of all time if he hits it,” Fittler said.
“You just haven’t got the power, you’re adjusting, there’s a lot going through your mind.
“There was no doubt he would have wanted it (the final conversion). It’s so much harder having the injury.”
Ex-Blues captain Paul Gallen chimed in, and said: “Being … a senior player in the team, the captain of the side, he would have wanted that kick.
“He would have dreamt as a kid to equal the game up and keep them in the competition.
“It wasn’t to be, and he couldn’t quite swing it in.”
Broncos great Sam Thaiday also believed Reynolds’ groin issue had a negative impact on his kicking ability.
“If he (Reynolds) was 100 per cent, I’m sure he kicks that goal and we probably go into golden point,” Thaiday told Today.
Bunnies coach Wayne Bennett also revealed the club had kept Reynolds in cotton wool in the lead up to the game, admitting the halfback “didn’t kick till yesterday (Saturday)”.
The legendary coach also hit back at those who criticised Reynolds’ late misses.
“These guys make mistakes, they miss tackles, they drop balls, they don’t always get the goal kick,” Bennett said.
“Stop putting any more to it than the fact that he missed the goal kick and he didn’t hit the ball right on the drop kick, simple as that.”
Reynolds’ failed field goal attempt was his last action for Souths, as he departs the club to link up with the Brisbane Broncos from 2022.