NRL Grand Final 2023: Penrith Panthers illegal block plays, Nathan Cleary protection, Panthers vs Broncos, news

The Panthers have been accused of getting away with blatant penalties in an illegal act that works to protect superstar halfback Nathan Cleary.

Penrith duo Isaah Yeo and Moses Leota have been moving in the defensive line to block opposition players trying to put kick pressure on Cleary.

The footage shown on NRL 360 on Tuesday night shows the middle forwards subtly but effectively moving to protect Cleary.

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“Cleary is playing in career-best form, there’s conversations going on about is he as good as the greatest? As good as Joey? As good as Sterlo? But I tell you one thing he doesn’t need, he doesn’t need a leg up from the referees ignoring some of the tactics going on to give him protection,” Paul Crawley said on NRL 360.

“You have a look at some of these incidents involving Isaah Yeo and Moses Leota.

“When you’re giving kick-block protection, you’re not allowed to move. They’re moving, they’re getting in the way. These are penalties that are just being ignored. Why are they being ignored?

“I’m surprised the Broncos haven’t come out and spoken about it because you’ll remember two years ago when Bennett was coaching Souths in the grand final and this became a bit of an issue in the lead up.

“Wayne had sort clarity from Jared Maxwell the referees boss and then Ivan got wind of that and he accused Wayne of trying to influence the referees and it turned into a bit of a war of words.

“But it’s a legitimate conversation that needs to be answered because you’re not allowed to do it and they’re getting away with it. It’s clear as crystal.”

Anasta acknowledged the play was illegal but found praise for the Panthers’ ability to get away with it in games.

“Wayne brought it up and all of sudden Wayne beat them with no kick protection but then back to the grand final and it was back to where it was again,” Anasta said.

“But also, credit to Penrith for doing it so well, it’s an art to get away with this.”

But Crawley doubled down and called for the illegal manoeuvre to be penalised.

“The NRL has done a great job cleaning up the late hits on halves, but they’re getting enough protection now,” he said.

“You don’t have to give them more protection by ignoring moments that should be picked up by the referees because if you can’t get at him he’s impossible to stop.”

Originally published as Referees accused of ignoring Panthers tactic that creates Cleary protection racket

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