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Panthers prop Spencer Leniu.

Ivan Cleary concedes Penrith's 2019 season has fallen below expectations but he is confident the club is on the right track after blooding its ninth debutant of the year.

Billy Burns joined eight other rookies in getting his first taste of NRL for the Panthers when he debuted in the 24-6 loss to the Roosters on Saturday night and with most of the young crop playing consistently well when given the chance, Cleary was adamant the club was on the right path.

"We definitely finished the year feeling like we should have done better," Cleary conceded.

"I don't really want to give a post-mortem tonight; the bottom line is we're going to be disappointed with our finish but extremely confident about what's in front of us. There's a clear plan about how we're going to do that."

Match Highlights: Roosters v Panthers

The fact all nine debutants had come through the Penrith system was a sign the club was headed in the right direction, Cleary added.

"Playing six or seven rookies [against the Roosters], that’s a pretty inexperienced team. I'm confident in our system, I know the path forward and what we need to do and I'm looking forward to getting into it.

"First things first is getting the job done next week [against Newcastle]."

Cleary praised the effort levels against the Roosters and said if that sort of commitment had been on show all season the club would probably be getting ready for a finals tilt.

"Both sides completed high; we stayed in the fight all night so I was happy in that respect but it gives us a bit of a benchmark in what we've got to aspire to," Cleary said.

The Panthers pushed the premiers but couldn't quite nail their opportunities which in turn would have built more belief and Cleary admitted that was the story of the season.

One of those opportunities was a no-try ruling against Nathan Cleary, with the Bunker confirming an obstruction from Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who stopped in the defensive line.

Ivan Cleary took aim at Roosters prop Zane Tetevano, who chose to appeal for an obstruction rather than attempt a tackle.

Kikau palms his way over

"It would've been nice to get that one before half-time but wasn't to be," Cleary said.

"The game allows people not to try in defence; I've been saying that for years, as soon as you allow defenders not to try – it's not their fault, that's what rules allow – I don't think the game wants that.

"He made no effort at all, didn't run behind him. I don't know what the obstruction was because he just stopped. I don’t really think the game wants that. I don't think it was a great look."

Cleary declared the Roosters one of the two teams to beat, along with the Storm who earlier in the evening locked up the minor premiership with a big win over top four hopefuls Manly.

"Melbourne and the Roosters are the benchmarks and have been for some time," Cleary said.

"A couple of teams are doing well this year but it's Melbourne and the Roosters and every other team has been trying to aspire to what they've been doing for a long time."

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