Ivan Cleary: lots of opportunities lost

Supermansour: Our photographer Gary Warrick captured this up-close and exclusive photo of Panthers winger Josh Mansour flying over the line for a try last Sunday afternoon.IT was another tough 80 minutes in the coach’s box for Ivan Cleary.
Nanjing Night Net

The Penrith Panthers’ head coach admitted his side was down on luck and skill as they let slip a 6-0 lead at half-time to fall 20-10 to the Canberra Raiders at Centrebet Stadium last weekend.

Despite winger Josh Mansour bagging a blistering try in just the fourth minute, lacklustre defence — and often disorganised attack — prevented the Panthers from pouncing on a win.

“I mean you can look at it a couple of ways,” Cleary said.

“The tries they [the Raiders] scored were, just, there was a little bit of luck involved in those.

“But we had a lot of opportunities, a lot of half chances that we probably got a bit excited and, in the end, it’s just a game that you sort of feel like slipped away a bit.

“We’ve had a few like that this year so that’s something we’re going to have to improve on.”

Arguably the most contentious moment in the game was when Canberra centre Jarrod Croker pounced on a try in the 46th minute despite appearing to tap the airborne ball forward before grounding it.

Although the controversial call levelled the scores, Panthers’ captain Kevin Kingston denied it soured the players’ spirit or hunger for a victory.

“We saw the green light go up but we just got on with the job really quickly,” he said.

“We flushed it straight away.”

Just seven for-and-against points now separate the Panthers from the last-placed Parramatta Eels on the competition ladder.

Kingston said the Panthers playing group would be doing their utmost to avoid the dreaded and unwanted ownership of the 2012 wooden spoon.

“Oh, without a doubt,” he said.

“We won’t speak about it too much but we’ll just get on with the job that we know we’ve got to do.”

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