Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

A lethal weapon in Nathan Cleary’s arsenal sparked the Panthers on Friday night when they desperately needed their main man, lifting the defending premiers to victory in an absorbing affair with the Roosters.

The Tricolors turned in a defiant display and even stole the lead through a Sam Verrills try in the 53rd minute, but a deadly Cleary move shortly after swung the match back in Penrith’s favor.

The New South Wales Blues halfback spotted a defensive misread from Roosters back-rower Sitili Tupouniua and pounced, rifling a ball to Izack Tago to send him piercing through a gap.

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The exceptional play seized the lead back for the Panthers, before the hosts crossed again on their way to a 26-18 win.

“It’s a brilliant pass,” said rugby league guru Phil Gould on Nine’s coverage.

“Out of the corner of his eye he was watching Tupouniua,” added rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns.

“He was just watching and scanning, and he was waiting for him to turn in. As soon as he turned his shoulders, Nathan just went ‘whack!’.”

Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

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Caller Mat Thompson labeled the pass “glorious”.

Cleary’s clutch play followed his shining performance for NSW on Sunday night, in which he steered the Blues to a series-leveling win over the Maroons in Perth.

The Panthers secured a seventh win in succession and extended their lead on top of the ladder to six points.

Their 22-20 defeat to the Eels in Penrith in round nine remains their only loss of the season.

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