NRL: Warriors fall to eighth after Panthers win

Rookie playmaker Nathan Cleary proved to be a force for the Penrith Panthers against the Roosters in their 38-18 victory. Photo / Getty Images
Rookie playmaker Nathan Cleary proved to be a force for the Penrith Panthers against the Roosters in their 38-18 victory. Photo / Getty Images

Nathan Cleary, son of former Warriors coach Ivan, did his father's old team no favours last night.

The 18-year-old rising star helped Penrith to a big 38-18 win over the Sydney Roosters which moved the Panthers to seventh on the NRL competition ladder ahead of the Warriors on for and against.

Cleary scored a try and showed tremendous vision and skill to set up another as the Panthers kept pace with the New Zealand side in the race for a top eight finals position.
Tyrone Peachey bagged a double - but it was 18-year-old Cleary who continued to win over the fans and make opposition teams take notice.

The little halfback's effort to race 30m then put up a cross-field kick while running at full speed for Peachey to score his second midway through the second half made the 9653 locals go berserk.

While Cleary was sadly placed on a club media ban afterwards, Penrith coach Anthony Griffin, Panthers teammates and even Roosters coach Trent Robinson were all impressed by the nine-game rookie.

Just how composed the son of former Penrith coach Ivan Cleary remains in the final month will go a long way to deciding if the mountain men reach the finals.

They'll back themselves against Newcastle on Sunday, then will thrash it out with the Wests Tigers and Gold Coast, two teams also sniffing around the edge of the eight.

"It was a pretty crazy try," Bryce Cartwright said.

Griffin added: "It was a great try, wasn't it?

"It was really enjoyable to watch them enjoying their footy out there tonight at this time of the year.

"He (Cleary) is doing a great job, his kicking game is good, but I have to give a rap to Bryce, Matty Moylan and Peter Wallace, the guys who are around him, keeping him calm and pointing him in the right direction."

Robinson lost his own No.7 Mitchell Pearce before the game because of a calf injury, but said of Cleary: "He was exceptional. To lead from the front as an 18-year-old, it was impressive."

The Chooks were entitled to back themselves last night, especially after they did so well against Brisbane last round. But they coughed up too much ball, gave away penalties and struggled in defence. Aidan Guerra has never played worse, and was pushed out of the way too easily by Chris Grevsmuhl and Blake for their tries.

Robinson said his team gave Penrith too much freedom with the ball.

What a joy it was to watch the youngsters at the foot of the mountain throw the ball around. Blake with his one-handed carries from deep inside his own half. Cartwright whenever he touches the ball. Birthday boy Peachey storming on to the ball out wide.
The thing that pleased Griffin the most was the way his players had responded to the heartbreak of losing in golden point to New Zealand.

"And to be able to peel off 60 minutes like that tonight, I'm really happy with the way we did that. Obviously it puts us in a position where we control our own destiny the last month," Griffin said.


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