Both teams struggled to score at Penrith. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Both teams struggled to score at Penrith. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Has Cleary’s coaching got an attacking issue?

WITHhistory on their side, were Penrith ever in doubt?

Friday night's victory makes it five wins in a row for the Panthers against the Wests Tigers.

It's a feat that almost diminishes the sense of beleaguerment emanating from Penrith during the week.

The headlines about coach Ivan Cleary's contentious Concord departure came thick and fast. Even Phil Gould's role and relevance at the foot of the mountains was questioned.

The Panthers were in doubt, and they were in doubt for 79 minutes of Friday night's game.

If you listened to Penrith supremo Gould talk about his side's 32-2 loss to Melbourne in round three you would have heard him highlight the fact that the Panthers never really looked like scoring. This from the team that could claw back just about any deficit on the scoreboard only last year.

Gould said the Panthers looked like a team that lacked confidence, and he was right. The once fearless and flamboyant Panthers had lost the glint in their eye, especially in attack.

Josh Reynolds assisted two tries off kicks. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Josh Reynolds assisted two tries off kicks. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Dylan Edwards' try in the final minute of the game was Penrith's first in 194 minutes - that's one try in more than  three hours of footy.

The last try before that was way back in the 45th minute of their round-two clash against Newcastle.

Up until Friday night, Penrith's key attacking statistics were just as unflattering. The Panthers are equal last with the Titans for linebreaks, last for metres per game (1130) and second last for points with only 10 scored per game.

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns accused Penrith of being too structured and said it was stifling their attack.

It's a crucial point because even though the Panthers got the win, their systems and "structures" are a telling indicator on how new coach Clearly wants them to play.

Why does it matter so much when they've just won a thriller in golden point? Because we've seen this all before with a Cleary-coached side.

A similar scenario played out at Tigers last year when he was in charge. Under his tutelage a football team known for it's free-flowing style of football finished at the bottom of the competition for tries scored in 2018.

Cleary worked to improve the Tigers' defence but in the end it came at the expense of their attack. And after three out of four wins to start the season, Cleary's Tigers still missed the finals.

That's one piece of history the Penrith don't want to repeat.

Rediscovering their ability to snatch a victory from the clutches a defeat, like they did on Friday night with a decisive try on the death and a golden point field goal from the boot of Nathan Cleary, might just be the perfect antidote to Penrith's attacking woes going forward.

News Corp Australia


'I'm so grateful': How Orara woman got 23 horses to safety

premium_icon 'I'm so grateful': How Orara woman got 23 horses to safety

Karn Groneng knows she is one of the lucky ones

Generous donations help keep firefighters going

premium_icon Generous donations help keep firefighters going

Giving spirit helps during bushfire threat

Bushfires hit Russell Crowe's Nana Glen cattle property

premium_icon Bushfires hit Russell Crowe's Nana Glen cattle property

Buildings lost but animals okay according to actor