Timekeeping issues and a controversial try have drawn the ire of Penrith's captain and coach after their dramatic last-minute 26-25 loss to Manly at Brookvale Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Under the new 2014 rule changes, time is to be blown off every time points are scored in the last five minutes of a half – which has added to the drama of any number of grandstand finishes already this year.
But Penrith were left fuming by a controversial decision firstly not to check the game's final try, which put the hosts in front by one, then by a failure of the timekeepers to blow time off – denying Penrith valuable seconds in their bid to earn a field goal to force extra time.
Manly had been three points behind with around 75 seconds remaining when five-eighth Kieran Foran hoisted a bomb that was recovered by Manly before Tom Symonds crossed in the corner. Several chasers were very close to being offside at the time of the kick.
Lyon's missed sideline conversion meant a field goal in the final 15 or so seconds from Penrith – if they could regather from the kick-off – would have forced golden point extra time. With every second crucial, the kick-off ended up bouncing into touch to end the game, but club skipper Jamie Soward was left furious at lost seconds after the final try, while his coach bemoaned the decision not to employ the video referee to check the offside.
"I would have liked them to go to the video; I actually thought a couple of those kick chasers were really close," Cleary said after the game.
"It would have stopped the clock too which would have been nice. I still can't believe they didn't go to the video. They go up there every time don't they? But on that kick, on the last try of the game, the game's over, when there's so many things that could have happened [that could have affected whether a try should have been awarded]. Unfortunately that's the way they game goes. I just wanted them to check and see if those guys were onside."
Soward suggested at least 15 seconds were lost, which could have proved critical in his side's search for a late equaliser.
"How long does it take to kick a field goal? Five or six seconds to get the ball back?" he said.
"The time stopped for the second last try. It didn't stop [for the last] until I stood up – obviously we were devastated they scored. It didn't stop til I stood up and walked forward and I said 'what about the time?'
"He [the on-field referee] said 'I asked for the time to stop 15 seconds ago', it didn't stop, I think you all heard that on the audio."
Soward said he wasn't criticising the on-field officials so much as the timekeepers for that blunder, but agreed with his coach the last try should have been checked.
"We go for everything else. If it decides the game – it's not like it was a consolation try – it would have been nice to check they were all definitely onside and check the grounding, I think that would have been fair enough from our points of view."