Coach's brutal 'whingeing' shot after Panthers win NRL thriller

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·Sports Reporter
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Parramatta coach Brad Arthur and Penrith counterpart Ivan Cleary were at odds over the treatment from the referee after the Panthers' thrilling NRL semi-final win. Pictures: Getty Images
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur and Penrith counterpart Ivan Cleary were at odds over the treatment from the referee after the Panthers' thrilling NRL semi-final win. Pictures: Getty Images

A post-match press conference spat between Penrith coach Ivan Clearly and Parramatta counterpart Brad Arthur has overshadowed the Panthers' thrilling 8-6 semi-final victory.

The Panthers prevailed in what was ultimately one of the most thrilling contests of the NRL season, despite the relatively pedestrian scoreline.

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The Eels took the lead when Dylan Edwards allowed a towering bomb from Mitchell Moses to bounce and ex-Panther Waqa Blake scored in the 11th minute.

The Panthers quickly responded when a Cleary grubber in the 17th minute bounced kindly into Kurt Capewell's midriff for the Queensland State of Origin representative to level the scores.

From there both teams traded blows without scoring until a penalty to Cleary gave the Panthers a two-point buffer heading into the break.

An arm-wrestle erupted in the second half, with the Eels getting lucky after a Blake Ferguson fumble that led to a try was ultimately called back.

The Eels were left frustrated by several moments fans should have gone their way, but the most egregious for coach Arthur was the stoppage in play with just four minutes to go.

Parramatta were surging against a scrambling Panthers defence late in the piece when Penrith star Mitch Kenny went down behind the play. 

Replays showed his ankle had been inadvertently stepped on, but the Penrith trainer coming on field to stop play at a crucial time left Arthur furious.

"There has been a bit of complaining over the past couple of weeks, and they got what they were after off the back of the whingeing," Arthur said.

"It might have helped them tonight. That's alright, I'm just proud of the boys.

"We'll just get on with it and go on to next year."

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When asked directly about the stoppage for Kenny's injury, Arthur spoke on several issues through the game.

"They're trying to make the game faster, but how many stoppages were there tonight when we were starting to get on top?" Arthur said.

"A 7-2 penalty count, and the bunker gets involved for what reasons?

"But then we make a linebreak out of back field, we get down there. Will Penisini gets tackled off the ball.

"Mitch Moses running down there to chase, he gets tackled down there in the background off the ball."

Cleary's comments last week had not centred around referees' performance, and only a plea for the NRL to look after kickers.

The Panthers were able to just outlast the Parramatta Eels in a thrilling NRL semi-final on Saturday night. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
The Panthers were able to just outlast the Parramatta Eels in a thrilling NRL semi-final on Saturday night. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

He also claimed his team had been roughed up by South Sydney, before Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett unleashed on the topic of kick blockers.

Cleary then claimed after his team's qualifying final loss to Souths that Bennett had influenced referees.

He had not spoken publicly on the issue this week and admitted he was unsure what Arthur was getting at when told of the comments.

"I made a comment in what I believe in last week," Cleary said.

"I don't know how that helped us, I didn't speak to anyone this week."

With AAP

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