Nathan Cleary stuns again as NRL world left fuming over 'ridiculous' Panthers call

The Broncos were dudded by a blatant error in the early stages of their loss to Penrith.

Nathan Cleary is once again the talk of the NRL after leading the Panthers to a dominant victory over the Broncos in Thursday night's grand final rematch. But lost amid the carnage was a shocking and blatant call that went against the Broncos in the early stages.

The scoreline ended up 34-12, but the Broncos were dudded by what appeared to be a huge refereeing blunder when it was just 10-2. Mitch Kenny poured through a huge gap and was brought down close to the try-line by Selwyn Cobbo, before he bounced and reached out to plant the ball on the line.

Nathan Cleary and Mitch Kenny in action for the Panthers.
Nathan Cleary was on fire against the Broncos, but the Panthers were awarded a dodgy try to Mitch Kenny. Image: Getty/Channel 9

Referee Gerard Sutton awarded a try on the field, believing that Kenny had kept the ball pinned to his chest and momentum took him to the line. However many believed it was a double movement after replays showed Kenny surge forward and reach out for the line after the ball had already contacted the ground.

But inexplicably, the Bunker official confirmed Sutton's call and upheld the try. Fans were left fuming on social media, with many pointing out it was a clear case of a dodgy call going with a high-profile team when it would have been analysed to the nth degree if it was a lower side.

Mitch Kenny, pictured here committing a double movement.
Mitch Kenny landed short of the line before reaching out and promoting the ball. Image: Channel 9

Kenny looked very sheepish after planting the ball down and appeared to realise he'd committed a double movement. But the Panthers hooker breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was confirmed.

Channel 9 reporter Luke Bradnam wrote on social media: "If you ever wanted to know what a text book double movement is, could you find a better example than this?" Wide World of Sports columnist 'The Mole' commented: "On the Friday 6pm game and the Sunday 4.05pm game that is a double movement!"

Another person wrote: "Has the double movement rule changed?" While a fourth person said: "That try from Mitch Kenny should be used in the official NRL rulebook as the definition of a double movement."

Nathan Cleary does it again as NRL world left in awe

The call didn't prove to be costly in the overall scheme of things, with the Panthers running away with a 22-point victory. But it certainly put the Broncos even further behind the eight ball after they'd already lost Reece Walsh to a nasty facial injury.

Cleary took advantage of the depleted Broncos side, which was also missing big guns Adam Reynolds and Payne Haas. For the second week in a row, Izack Tago feasted on a second-rower defending at centre, with Brendan Piakura forced out wider when Cobbo replaced Walsh at fullback.


Cleary attacked Piakura all night and set up two lovely tries for Tago and another for Sunia Turuva. Cleary finished with three try assists, a line break and three line break assists in another masterful performance against the Broncos.

His display on Thursday night came just six months after he broke the Broncos' hearts with a sensational 20-minute burst to finish the grand final. Cleary turned the decider on its head as he led the Panthers from a 24-8 deficit to a 26-24 triumph.

Nathan Cleary in action for the Panthers against the Broncos.
Nathan Cleary torched the Broncos once again.

At one stage on Thursday night he had a hand in six tries in the last 60 minutes of game-time against Brisbane. The crowning moment came when he toyed with the Broncos' defence before producing a lovely ball for Tago to stream through for a try untouched.

NRL fans and commentators were once again in awe. “We spent an hour and a half pre-game talking about the grand final of 2023 and how Nathan Cleary won the grand final in 20 minutes,” Greg Alexander said on Fox League.

“It’s not the grand final and it’s not that performance, but by god it’s dominating. He has done everything, Nathan Cleary. Three try assists, some great passes, broke the Brisbane defence back down on the other side of halfway, made a 50 metre run, he’s done everything. It’s been a first class performance. Nathan, the art of deception in that final Izack Tago try was brilliant.”