Of the more than 40,000 people who were instructed to obey coronavirus instructions and braved the elements at ANZ Stadium on Sunday evening, none were more grateful than Ronald Pollen and her family and friends.
A Penrith fan of over 30 years, Pollen and her oversized flags were in the same section of the Sydney Olympic Park venue when the Panthers last lifted the trophy in 2003.
"I've been supporting the Panthers since the late 70s," the 55-year-old told AAP not long before kick-off against Melbourne.
"Flags have come and gone, there's been different colours, including the brown and white chocolate soldiers, and different poles have been used all the way back to when we started with it in the Super League."
"But I've been to every home game with them this year, and I thought we wouldn't be able to have them now."
In any normal NRL season, it's unlikely she would have.
COVID-19 restrictions meant the league could only allow for half of the 83,500 capacity site, which would normally leave precious little space for the quilt-sized flags.
When the league became the first professional sport in the country to emerge out of the COVID-19 lockdown came with its detractors, and it was the same on Sunday.
Over 50 protesters were forced to move on by a riot squad in the driving rain prior to the game.
Some traditional events remained, such as the retirees' parade, of which former South Sydney star and premiership hero, Sam Burgess, was a noticeable absentee. Local artist and former Gold Coast Titans video editor Amy Shark also did her best to ignite the considerably smaller crowd with her sultry tones. Storm captain and long-time NSW nemesis Cameron Smith was also booed heavily.
It's long list of lower grade deciders were gone, minus the third inception of the women's competition, of which powerhouse Brisbane claimed their third premiership in a row.
But no authorities were ready to take Pollen's generations-old, patched-up flags, which occupied the noticeably empty spaces brought about by the social distancing measures.
"We applied at the ground, and they were pretty cool about it," Pollen said.
"It's been a great season, I've enjoyed watching it. They're gonna do alright and win 18 in a row."
Australian Associated Press