Cleary and co win fiery battle over Tigers

Penrith have scored a hard-fought 19-12 NRL win over the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium.
Penrith have scored a hard-fought 19-12 NRL win over the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium.

Nathan Cleary's right boot has helped Penrith to a 19-12 win over a gutsy Wests Tigers as his father Ivan blew kisses to rival fans in a heated NRL affair at Bankwest Stadium.

In a high-quality game, halfback Cleary broke a 12-12 deadlock on Saturday night with eight minutes to play when he iced a field goal from 20 metres out.

Moments later, Apisai Koroisau put the game beyond doubt when he broke through the Tigers' midfield and put Dylan Edwards over between the posts.

But while the win kept the Panthers second on the ladder, there will be as much talk about the fiery battle that extended off the field.

Tigers centre Joey Leilua finished the match in the sin-bin after losing his cool and taking Dylan Edwards high and off the ball.

The match also ended in another melee, after Edwards was again taken high by Luke Garner on the siren.

Off the field, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary blew kisses to a Tigers fan and pointed at the scoreboard after being abused just under two years after leaving the club mid-contract.

"It's just an incident where I probably wish I didn't do anything, but I could have done worse," Cleary said.

"I didn't like what was said (to me).

"I'm not used to fans I don't think, it's been a while.

"It was an emotional game, it wouldn't matter who we were playing.

"The way the game was played and having to come back at halftime before all the drama at the end."

In the end, it was the Panthers' ability to keep their cool that made the difference.

After they led 12-10 with 20 minutes to play, Koroisau was penalised by the bunker for a high shot on a falling Luciano Leilua which drew a medicab onto the field.

The incident put the Tigers level, but fired up brother Joey who took exception to Koroisau checking on his welfare.

Then with 10 to play, it was a Leilua penalty in the play the ball that allowed Penrith to march down field and put Nathan Cleary in the spot for the one-pointer.

"We handled ourselves in some fiery exchanges pretty well," Cleary said.

"We want to be a club that plays by the rules."

The Tigers were courageous though for the most part.

They had just two men on the bench at fulltime, with forward Sam McIntyre taken to hospital after a head clash with Zane Tetevano in the first half.

They also withstood a stack of Penrith pressure in the first half to lead 10-6 at the break through Matt Eisenhuth and Tommy Talau tries.

"We definitely put ourselves in the fight," Tigers coach Michael Maguire said.

"He (Joey) was emotional, gave away penalties. We just can't do that."

"They (the ill-discipline) are the moments you talk about, they are costly moments. We need to be better in those situations."

Meanwhile Jarome Luai was again great for Penrith, setting up two tries for Stephen Crichton and controlling the game with two forced drop-outs.

James Fisher-Harris also ran 191 metres, laying the platform in the middle for Ivan Cleary's men.

But they too felt the pain of the win, with winger Brian To'o finishing the game on crutches with an ankle injury.

Australian Associated Press