Panthers prop Moses Leota has earned praise for setting the tone in the grand final with a series of bone-crunching hits in the first half.
After a slow start in their preliminary final win over the Rabbitohs, the reigning premiers came out of the gates fast against the Eels in the grand final, taking an 18-0 lead into the sheds.
Penrith’s dominance was built on the back of a ruthless defensive effort, with the Eels taking 39 minutes to register their first play-the-ball inside the Panthers’ 20.
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Leota was at the centre of the frightening defence, unleashing a series of hits that left the Eels rattled in the opening minutes.
« Moses Leota is on a search and destroy mission at the moment, » Andrew Johns said on Nine’s coverage after one of Leota’s hits.
« He’s not searching, he’s done a lot of destroying. »
Storm great Billy Slater also lavished praise on the 27-year-old.
« I thought it was set up by Leota, » he said of the Panthers’ dominant half.
« I thought his first stint was outstanding. He really set the standard of what the Panthers were going to do. »
Leota’s series of hits were followed by three first half tries to Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o, and Scott Sorensen.
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