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Cleary lauds Penrith's tenacity as he takes aim at Bunker

After being on the wrong end of some contentious calls from the match officials, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has praised his side's refusal to throw in the towel in their 19-18 golden-point victory over the Warriors on Sunday.

In the space of less than a minute early in the second half the Panthers had Jarome Luai sent to the sin bin for a professional foul which Cleary disputed, and then conceded a try which was approved by the NRL Bunker despite replays indicating the scorer David Fusitu'a's hand was out of the field of play before the ball was grounded.

Cleary aired his frustrations in the post-match media conference about the officiating.

"The Bunker made a pretty clear mistake straight after that [sin-binning], so I don't think the Bunker is the answer to everything," Cleary said in relation to Fusitu'a's try.

"I felt that they knew they got [the Luai decision] wrong afterwards, but it happens, you can't win them all.

"I felt like the pocket ref [Adam Cassidy] was really strong in his opinion [on the Luai sin-binning], which meant the head ref [Gerard Sutton] had to go with it, even though I didn't think he really thought it was [correct].

Match Highlights: Warriors v Panthers

"Big call, followed by another big call [the Fusitu'a try]."

Despite those decisions Penrith remained in the contest and looked to have won the game when Brent Naden scored an 80-metre runaway with two minutes left, before the Warriors kicked a penalty to force extra time.

Cleary said in the 10 minutes either side of half-time, when Penrith side conceded 10 points and were forced to play with 11 men after Liam Martin and Luai were banished, his side had every reason to give up.

"We were awful really, to turn the ball over maybe four sets in a row to let them back in before half-time," Cleary said.

"That coincided with a sin bin and then a try, and then the next sin bin and whatever went on after that.

"We probably had every reason to pack it in for the night.

"We haven't travelled well throughout the season, so it was just a brave win.

"You can feel sorry for yourself and just pack it in for the night and then blame everyone else, but we didn't do that, we just kept fighting and somehow won the game.

Panthers: Round 15

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"We have won five in are row now where we haven't even scored 20 points in a game, so I guess we are getting used to the tight and low-scoring affairs."

Cleary praised the impact of Naden, who scored two crucial tries in the second half, and playmaker James Maloney who laid on two try assists before kicking the match-winning field goal four minutes into extra time.

Seven days after starring for NSW in their victory over Queensland in Origin II, Maloney said he owed the Panthers a big performance in Auckland.

"It was probably my focus when I missed out [on selection] in the first Origin, that the Origin period needed to be really strong and that we could actually get the season back on track, and that didn't change just because I played last week," Maloney said.

"I still had to come back and make sure that we kept that momentum going.

"I wanted to make sure we got the win.

"We are still in a position where we can't be dropping games."

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