The Panthers have delivered a “perfect” first half display — in a grand final against their bitter rivals.
Ivan Cleary’s men got off the a flying start with a smart Stephen Crichton try, before Brian To’o and Scott Sorensen also crossed to hold a 18-0 lead going into the break.
As both teams exited the field, Channel 9’s Matt Thomspon explained the Panthers kicked off the contest with “military precision”.
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“It’s hard to think of a more dominant first half effort from the Panthers all season and they have saved it until Grand Final night,” Thompson said.
After 35 minutes, Brad Arthur’s side were yet to have possession in their opposition’s 20 metre area.
Eels backrower Shaun Lane led his side’s running metres totals — with eight Panthers players topping that number, led by Brian To’o’s 142.
The Panthers also had 60 per cent of possession, and had 611 more total running metres, recording 1070 to the Eels 459.
Going hand-in-hand with eight of possession, Parramatta endured 229 tackles compared to Penrith’s 153.
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Former Panthers general manager Phil Gould believed it was the “perfect” first half display.
“It certainly was probably more professional 40 minutes of football you can imagine,” Gould said on Channel 9.
“They got on the front foot early kicking game was good and ball control outstanding. When the time came they could move wide. They kept Parramatta at the end of the field the whole half and gave them little opportunity to get out of it. They kept the pressure on them, the kicking game from Cleary and Luai have been outstanding.
“When they’ve had the chances they’ve taken them of the there’s been a relentless, relentless physical assault on the Parramatta side who I must say they were brave but totally outclassed by the Panthers team. A perfect 40 minutes of football.”
Australia’s rival code, the AFL, was slammed for its totally one-sided final between the Sydney Swans and Geelong Cats.
Geelong dominated their rivals, in the same vein the Panthers have come out firing against the Eels.
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