No half-time spray behind Panthers comeback
There have been some almighty sprays from coaches towards their teams so far in 2017 but surprisingly not last weekend at the foot of the mountains despite the Penrith Panthers trailing 28-6 to the Warriors at the break.
A parochial home crowd made their feelings felt as they watched their side concede five first-half tries including an intercept four-pointer to Warriors winger David Fusitua and the Waqa Blake sin-binning early on in the contest.
The 22-point deficit left coach Anthony Griffin with work to do in the dressing rooms at the break however Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary revealed there wasn't much that needed to be said.
"He (Griffin) was actually surprisingly calm," Cleary told NRL.com.
"We probably deserved a spray but he was very positive and I think that really helped us in the second half.
"It's happened for a few weeks in a row now where we've given away tries against the run of play and off kicks on the final tackle.
"We really need to clean that part of our game up and if we do then there's no reason why we cant be a threat.
"We've all done enough talking and it was more about our actions on the field now."
A cool and calm person himself, Cleary's kick at the death for Tyrone Peachey's try capped off Penrith's remarkable comeback as the game was put out of reach with the sideline conversion.
Cleary has only missed three goals from 37 attempts after 10 rounds of the NRL Telstra Premiership – striking at a career-high 91.9 per cent.
"I knew if I got that goal at the end we would win and I wasn't really nervous but there was a massive relief after I kicked it just because of how hard the boys worked," he said.
"To put the icing on the cake and be able to seal it was awesome."
It was around the State of Origin period in 2016 that the Panthers began to hit their straps, winning eight of nine games to charge into the finals race.
Cleary was partnered alongside five-eighth Bryce Cartwright during that purple patch of form and is pleased to be reunited with the 22-year-old again in the halves as the side looks get on a roll once more in the middle of the season.
"We're just trying to pick off where we left off last year and hopefully build that combination again," he said.
"He (Cartwright) is just starting to get back to full fitness so it will only get better after a few more games together too."
The Knights' upset win over the Canberra Raiders in dominating fashion has the Panthers on red alert come Sunday's visit to Newcastle, despite the clash between the two sides back in Round 4 going heavily in the Panthers' favour with a 40-0 scoreline.
"They're a whole other team up there and we'll need to be on our game," Cleary said.
"Going up to Newcastle is tough with the crowd behind them and they've got a different side to when we beat them down here and more match fitness.
"We need to replicate that second half [against the Warriors] and look to get another win heading into the bye."
After Cleary peppered the Knights with some of his trademark spiralling bombs six weeks ago, the Newcastle back three can expect another barrage come Sunday.
"Hitting them isn't too bad but where they land is probably the main thing I practice," Cleary said.
"I worked really hard with in the off-season with those kicks to make sure the area in which they landed were going to be beneficial for the kick chase.
"They're much more effective if our guys are putting the pressure on racing down-field and need to land in the right spot to get a good result."