Star Penrith pair Nathan Cleary and Josh Mansour have rushed to the defence of their forward pack after the Panthers were comprehensively beaten by Parramatta in the first genuine upset of the NRL season.
Post match, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary pointed to below-par performances from his back three, Mansour, Dylan Edwards and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, as a significant factor in the loss and the left winger concurred.
“That performance falls on our shoulders,” Mansour said. “Our middles had an outstanding game. In the backs’ department, we just didn’t step up. Obviously it was a sketchy game on our behalf and we have to make amends for that this week.”
The Panthers completed only eight of their first 14 sets and Mansour made two of those handling errors. They came within minutes of each other and kept Penrith pinned in their own half, opening the door for Parramatta to pounce.