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Panthers maintain undefeated start, but Cleary under cloud of hip


Penrith crossed paths with the Brisbane Broncos to extend their unbeaten start to 2022 and stay atop the NRL ladder.

It wasn’t as straightforward as the 40-12 scoreline suggested, but from the moment Jarome Luai canceled Kotoni Staggs’ opener, there would only ever have been one winner.

The victory was Penrith’s 20th in a row at the BlueBet Stadium, with Ivan Cleary telling the media afterwards that his side enjoyed the milestone.

“We don’t take that for granted, that’s for sure,” he said. “Every time we play, especially at home, it’s a special occasion. Our community comes out and supports the team and it’s just a lot of fun.

Taylan May continued his scoring streak and Ivan Cleary will once again be delighted with the performance from his bench, with Scott Sorensen and Spencer Leniu making major contributions.

The only dark cloud will be over Nathan Cleary, who spoiled an otherwise outstanding performance by being flagged for a hip tackle.

His father rejected the idea of ​​a suspension, although discipline may still disagree.

“I don’t know why he was implicated,” said Ivan Cleary. “It was definitely not a hip drop, because it was a one-man tackle. It’s more like a Cumberland throw.

“It looked a bit awkward, but it happens sometimes. You don’t have to do anything illegal for this to happen.

“I think he’s been playing well. He’s getting more and more involved, his in-game fitness is improving and he’s going to keep improving. It was his best game so far since he started. back.

Brisbane were overtaken but fought back well, with Kotoni Staggs excellent and Adam Reynolds still dangerous.

They might miss a header from Keenan Palasia that saw him and Dylan Edwards thrown out, and one from Kobe Hetherington that allowed Spencer Leniu a late try, but overall it was a performance that Kevin Walters can. draw strong positives.

“I thought we were in the fight for most of it, but there was a ten minute block where they put it on us,” Kevin Walters said.

“That’s where they are and where we’re trying to achieve. We will get there.

“From that perspective, it was good to play against a team like Penrith because they themselves played on the right foot. There are a lot of lessons we can learn from tonight.

“I agree with where we are. I thought Adam played his best game for the club, Kotoni was good and we lack key players.

“The scoreline probably didn’t reflect the game, but that happens sometimes when you play the Premiers.

“We got a bit lost and they have several gears to go. They are playing very fast and it caught us off guard and we couldn’t keep up with them.

“It’s only round five and our goal is to go with them at the end of the season, and if we can do that, which I think we can, we’ll be a different football team.”

The Broncos’ completion rate was good, they kicked well and made Penrith work for their tries. The problem with Penrith, of course, is that they are more than capable of doing this.

Staggs looked back to form against the Roosters and opened the game after ten minutes. He occasionally grounded Paul Momirovski a week ago and gave Izack Tago the treatment this time, smashing his counterpart on his outside shoulder to put Tesi Niu over the top for the first try.

Staggs was heavily involved in Penrith’s response, but not in a positive way. He was lifted by Jarome Luai and had no game for the Panthers’ five-eight step and speed, which brought his team up to speed.

It was impossible to keep Staggs out of the game. He was quickest on a back kick and thought he had scored, but the bunker called a dropped ball.

He created a break from which Tesi Niu again almost recovered. It would prove the end of Niu’s night, straining a hamstring while running for the ball.

The Broncos would pay for their failure to capitalize, and it came from the most unlikely sources.

Scott Sorensen had only had two tries in 62 games heading into tonight, but you wouldn’t have known that by the way he lifted Jordan Riki, shoved him like Benji Marshall and rushed from 20.

It was the kind of try that immediately makes you anticipate a bunker intervention, but none materialized: it was so unusual.

The second half started with a bang. Keenan Palasia slapped Dylan Edwards in the face and got one in return, earning both ten minutes in the trash.

With both sides a light man, it was always likely that Penrith would fare better.

They struck quickly: Api Koroisau broke through the middle and, a game later, the Panthers moved quickly enough to find space for Charlie Staines in the corner.

Sorensen then nearly repeated his trick, before being taken down. No need, they had an even better one up their sleeve: Nathan Cleary slipped a side kick through the defense and Taylan May reached out with a left hand to collect it for one of the tries of the year until now.

Isaah Yeo has been one of the best players of the year so far, and he’s set up the following: his ball game has been excellent and stood out when the Penrith lock slipped on Liam Martin.

Kotoni Staggs still couldn’t be kept out of the game. Adam Reynolds, also excellent at silence, kicked behind the Penrith defense and his cross did the rest.

The Panthers fought back, again under unusual circumstances. Jarome Luai took the ball into contact and got up in a rage, with replays showing Kobe Hetherington having a fistful of hair.

As Hetherington feared a fight, Spencer Leniu snuck behind and under the posts. There was a matter of obstruction – Luai had a hand on Hetherington – but the bunker ruled the Broncos forward chose to focus on his little argument rather than making a tackle. The test held.

It was time for one more. It was Cleary’s boot again that created it, but not in the way he intended. The kick was about to land, only for Izack Tago to be pushed back by Kotoni Staggs.

Taylan May could have scored himself, but the score took it away and awarded Tago as a penalty try. It was a frantic end to what had been a frantic game.




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