Cleary not worried by Knights' tactics
Sometimes Newcastle Knights enforcer Beau Scott may go one or two steps too far such is his passion for the game. Yet when it came to Scott pressuring opposition kickers it was fair game according to Panthers coach Ivan Cleary following his side's 26-14 loss to the Knights.
There were five instances where Cleary's halfback and captain Peter Wallace was flattened by the Knights' defence off the ball after he either passed or kicked.
While Scott was responsible for three of these occurrences, with Jeremy Smith and Joey Leilua making up the numbers, Cleary said he had no problem with Newcastle's tactics, despite the recent debate over Scott's style of play.
"You never like to see that happening to your captain and playmaker but honestly I thought everything they did off the ball was alright," Cleary said after the game.
"It's just how it goes that if you end up giving them a little bit more time when you have the ball then that's going to happen."
Admitting Newcastle's pressure off the ball may well have been a factor in the game's outcome if – and only if – his side were still in the game, the fact of the matter for Cleary was that momentum never swung the Panthers' way when it mattered most.
Going down 18-0 after 20 minutes, Cleary said the "catch-up mentality" of his side meant the Panthers weren't as successful or clinical as they obviously wanted to be.
"[Newcastle's tactics] becomes a factor if or when you're building momentum in the game and they had it all at the start of the game," Cleary said.
"After that we were playing catch-up so we couldn't build a proper game. They're riding high though too so they're doing a lot of things right."
Newcastle coach Rick Stone was quick to defend Scott, whose timing is proving impeccable when making such solid contributions off the ball, especially considering he didn't concede a penalty while doing so all game.
"I think that's what you try to do to most playmakers. Wallace is a decent player and it's our job to put the pressure on him. I thought we did that pretty well within the rules," Stone said.
"Last time we played like that we copped a bit of flak for it but most teams are looking to do the same – deny the opposition playmakers the chance to get any time or space.
"It's no secret. Every team has been trying to do it for 100 years and I think it will continue for a while yet."
Meanwhile Cleary credited the Panthers' very short turnaround as the cause to his side's flat performance against Newcastle.
"We didn't do anything differently this week. The reality was the game last Monday night was easily the toughest game we have had this season. It was very physical and really it was only a four-and-a-half day turnaround with travel as well so it was a fairly big ask for us," Cleary said.
"They were full of running and obviously back at home and full of confidence. It was just one of those games."
In positive news for Penrith, Cleary expects James Segeyaro to be fit for next Monday night's game against the North Queensland Cowboys though insisted Jamie Soward is a long way off from returning.