Ivan Cleary admits it’s been a while.
But a stellar Penrith Panthers side finally broke an eight-week victory drought with a convincing 28-16 win over the Sydney Roosters at Centrebet Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After locking in a 10-6 lead at half-time, a fiery second half secured the club just their fifth win in a season that’s now 20 rounds old and Panthers head coach Cleary conceded the lengthy time between triumphant performances had been draining.
”It’s been hard,” he said.
”I think we’ve done it twice now- five losses in a row- throw a bye in there, it’s a long time to go without one.
”There’s no in between, you either win or you lose, that’s the way you feel.
”It’s good for the boys, they’ve been working hard for a long time, to see them get some reward finally.
”It’s good for the fans too, the ones that have been coming here every game, supporting the team, for them to be able to go home happy.”
Feisty Panthers five-eighth Travis Burns felt the wrath of the referees twice during the game after an alleged ‘chicken wing’ tackle was put on report in the first half before he unleashed a high tackle on Roosters’ prop Martin Kennedy and was sent off the field with just under eight minutes of the second half remaining.
Cleary was uncertain of the legitimacy of the claims against Burns but said he wasn’t fond of his players being evicted from the field in the dying stages of a match.
”He’s an aggressive guy and he was in an aggressive mood at that stage, for sure,” Cleary said.
”That’s part of his job in the team, though, is to try and fire up his teammates.
”I’m not comfortable with giving away a penalty and bringing them back into the game.
”The fact that we were 12 men either didn’t help, in the end of the game.”
Classy attack delivered the Panthers five impressive tries and captain Kevin Kingston said the victory was well-deserved.
”I’m just really proud of the boys,” he said.
”It was a real gutsy effort, it wasn’t pretty at times, but I thought we did really well and like Ivan said, it’s been coming for a couple of weeks.
”Just all week, I thought we just prepared really well, we’ve had a bit of stuff going on in the last couple of weeks and the boys have just bounced back really well from it.”
Panthers centre Brad Tighe almost opened the scoring in the 10th minute but fell just short of the line before losing the ball.
He was quick to rectify the mistake, however, when he pounced on a Luke Walsh kick to secure a try in the 13th minute.
Sharpshooter Walsh converted and the Panthers led 6-0.
The Roosters came close to cracking their first points when Adam Henry flew over in the 32nd minute but the preceding pass was ruled forward and the effort was denied.
A rampant Shaun Kenny-Dowall finally delivered the Roosters a try when he barged over to score in the 37th minute and a Braith Anasta conversion levelled the scores at 6-all.
Penrith wasted little time hitting back when Lachlan Coote executed a scintillating break to send Matt Robinson powering over moments before half time.
Walsh missed the conversion and the Panthers led 10-6 at the break.
Winger David Simmons was first to strike in the second half when centre Michael Jennings passed to Tighe, who sent Simmons racing over in the 47th minute.
Walsh added the extras and extended the Panthers lead to 16-6.
An electrifying Jennings piled on a further four points to the Panthers’ lead with a stellar 55 metre run, sparked by a Robinson pass, in the 54th minute and another Walsh conversion gave the Panthers a 22-6 advantage.
Roosters second rower Boyd Cordner retaliated when he dived over for a try in the 59th minute and an Anasta conversion reduced the visitors’ deficit to 22-12.
The Panthers bolstered their lead again when Tighe stormed through the Roosters defence to crash over for his second try of the game in the 67th minute and an impressive Walsh conversion from out wide gifted the side a 28-12 scoreline.
With just under eight minutes left on the clock, Burns was sent off for a high tackle after already having been placed on report for a questionable ‘chicken wing’ tackle- whereby the victim’s arm is extended to a concerning position- on Roosters forward Mose Masoe in the first half.
Some handy hot-potato passes then allowed Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello to cross for a try in the 75th minute but Anasta missed the conversion and when the full-time siren sounded, the Panthers departed the field with a hard fought- and long awaited- 28-16 victory.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.