Ivan Cleary hits out over Mitch Kenny sin-binning in Panthers' loss to Eels

The Penrith Panthers coach didn't agree with the controversial decision.

Ivan Cleary, pictured here alongside Mitch Kenny.
Ivan Cleary didn't agree with the decision to send Mitch Kenny to the sin-bin. Image: Getty

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has criticised the decision to send Mitch Kenny to the sin-bin during extra time in his side's loss to Parramatta on Thursday night. Mitchell Moses slotted a field goal in the second minute of extra time as the Eels got their first win of the NRL season with a 17-16 victory.

However Cleary wasn't happy over the manner in which the Eels were given prime field position for Moses to kick the match-winner, which came about after Kenny was penalised and sin-binned for a high tackle. With Waqa Blake bringing the ball out from the Eels line, Kenny collected him in the head with a brutal hit and was given his marching orders.

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The Eels marched up the field in the subsequent set of six, which culminated in Moses slotting the golden point field goal. Kenny's sin-binning came after Eels prop Junior Paulo was given the same fate for a swinging arm that collected Zac Hosking in the face in the final minute of regulation time.

When asked if he agreed with Kenny being sin-binned, Cleary said he didn't. “It’s just unfortunate,” he said in his post-game press conference. “Mitch was just trying to make a play. I definitely don’t think it was a sin-bin, a penalty maybe.

“It was just unfortunate... he was just getting off the line like he always does trying to make a play and unfortunately Waqa got hit by marker and was on the way down a bit and wasn’t hurt. A couple of big penalties and big moments tonight, which is a shame too.”

Ashley Klein, pictured here sending Mitch Kenny to the sin-bin during Penrith's clash with Parramatta.
Ashley Klein sends Mitch Kenny to the sin-bin during Penrith's clash with Parramatta. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Eels coach Brad Arthur said he had no complaints with Paulo being sent to the bin. The towering front-rower left his feet and hit Hosking flush in the head.

“I thought he was trying to jump over Dylan (Brown) maybe,” Arthur said. “Dylan Brown was on the ground. He was just trying to jump over him and it was unfortunate, he was falling.

“Probably [it was worthy of a sin-bin] in the circumstances. If you hit someone in the head, that’s what the rules have been. So I’ve got no complaints there.”

Ivan Cleary not worried despite another loss for Panthers

Cleary dismissed concerns over the Panthers' form after they fell to 1-2 on the season. "I feel like we'll get a lot out of that game in terms of improvement," he said.

"If we turn up like that and perform like that every week, I think we're going to win plenty of games. It's early days. We're playing well. It was a good game tonight.

"Some of the numbers that came out, the Eels were 95 per cent (completion rate) with the ball. They had 1000 kick metres, which I've never seen before. I'm not sure if that's ever happened before."

Penrith's loss was their third by a field goal in the space of a month, including the World Club Challenge defeat to St Helens in the pre-season. But Cleary said the unusual build-up to the season isn't an excuse.

"It's definitely been different, especially having such a big game, the World Club Challenge, to kick it off," he said. "It's been fine, I've been really happy with the 80 minutes we've been able to put together. There's heaps of stuff that we can improve at and we will but all in all, I think it's a pretty brave team doing their best every week."

with AAP

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