The Penrith Panthers have leaped back in to Finals contention courtesy of a 38-18 demolition job on the Sydney Roosters, at Peppers Stadium.
Cleary the man for Penrith
Many believed that when his Dad was sacked as Penrith coach last year, son Nathan would follow him out the door. Luckily for Penrith, the halfback stayed around, and he showed his supreme skill last night, leading the romp of the Roosters with a try, two line breaks and two try assists. Of particular note was the kick to put Tyrone Peachey over in the corner, with Cleary breaking through the Roosters defence before summing up the situation and placing the kick across to Peachey with pin point perfection. Cleary is a superstar in the making.
Pearce the man for Roosters
The Roosters season can perhaps be summed up by the season that Mitchell Pearce is having. Pearce was again missing during the loss to Penrith, and the Sydney side went missing too in his absence. While Cleary may be the man for Penrith, the Roosters have shown their key reliance on Pearce, struggling in his absence and languishing down the near the bottom of the table as a result. They will hope for a fit and firing Pearce in 2017, or will be expecting the same troubles.
Panthers move closer to Finals football
With such a tight competition, the Panthers needed to win nicely and did just that, running away with the encounter in the second half to not only move inside the eight but improve their points differential. It was vital they did so to stay ahead of their rivals in a similar position. They would be disappointed to have let in two late tries though, and will hope that switching off late doesn’t cost them in the long run.
Roosters need not look past their captain for inspiration
If the Sydney side are wondering how they can get themseleves out of the mess they have find themseleves in, they could do worse than trying to emulate captain Jake Friend. The Roosters’ hooker was enormous for his team in the loss, completing 55 tackles in a 66 minute performance. He now leads the NRL’s tackle count for the year by a country mile, having made 1061 tackles in 2016, 199 more than nearest rival, Mitch Rein of St George Illawarra.