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Sport Panthers jump to Maloney's NRL defence

00:46  18 may  2018
00:46  18 may  2018 Source:   msn.com

Maloney steers Penrith over Knights in NRL

  Maloney steers Penrith over Knights in NRL <p>Penrith star James Maloney kicked a field goal and set up the match-sealing try in a 29-18 NRL win over Newcastle.</p>Penrith were leading 18-6 on Friday night when Kalyn Ponga gave the Knights some hope by converting their sixth-straight set on the Panthers' line in the 54th minute.

James Maloney has continued his rich vein of form, powering Penrith to a 35-12 NRL win over the Gold Coast on Sunday. In the continued absence of regular halfback Nathan Cleary, Maloney pulled the strings, setting up two crucial second-half tries as the Panthers jumped into second spot on the ladder.

Maloney joined the Panthers in 2018 after a stellar career in which he has won two NRL Premierships, a World Club Challenge and was part of the 2016 Four Nations and 2017 World Cup winning squads for Australia. Passing. Defence . Running Metres. Round.

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Penrith coach Anthony Griffin has jumped to the defence of James Maloney, saying there are plenty of reasons why NSW should select the veteran playmaker for this year's State of Origin series.

The two-time premiership winner's chances of retaining his NSW jumper are under threat following comments by Blues adviser Greg Alexander that the Panthers five-eighth is struggling with his defence.

Nathan Cleary certain to return for NSW Origin trial against Luke Brooks

  Nathan Cleary certain to return for NSW Origin trial against Luke Brooks Boom Penrith Panthers half-back Nathan Cleary has been cleared to return from a knee injury to face fellow NSW contender Luke Brooks and the Wests Tigers at Panthers Stadium on Thursday. Panthers coach Anthony Griffin confirmed the 20-year-old will return against his dad Ivan’s Tigers after Penrith’s 29-18 win over Newcastle on Friday night.“He finished off his rehab today and had a tough session this morning down at Penrith and he’ll re-join the team tomorrow,” Griffin said.“It’s good to get Nathan back.”Cleary has been sidelined with a medial ligament strain suffered in the Round 3 clash against Canterbury.

The Panthers actually scored four tries to three but James Maloney ' s kicking proved the difference in a match that will go down as one of the games of Penrith had plenty of possession and territory in the opening 40 minutes, but were repelled time and time again by some typically resolute Cronulla defence .

Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Josh Mansour spoke about the club swap that is set to take place next week pending NRL approval, admitting they saw the positives in having the experienced Maloney calling the shots alongside Cleary. Panthers . Maloney continues to dominate in Cleary' s absence.

Maloney's tally 75 missed tackles so far this year is the highest in the league, with daylight a resounding second ahead of Wests Tigers forward Robbie Rochow's 51 attempts.

Griffin said Maloney's defensive issues haven't been helped by their injury crisis, which has resulted in an evolving door around the Panthers' left edge during his first year at the club.

"It hasn't been easy coming to the club, and we've had a lot of injuries," Griffin said.

"He's had a different centre and (second-rower Viliame Kikau is) doing a really good job out there, but it's his first year in first grade.

"But I don't understand the talk about him not playing Origin because of his defence. I think there's a whole lot more positives to him that'd be good for NSW to have out there."

Cleary strong as Penrith top Tigers in NRL

  Cleary strong as Penrith top Tigers in NRL <p>Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary has set up a try and broke three tackles in a strong return from injury in a 16-2 NRL win over the Wests Tigers.</p>Cleary had missed the past seven matches with a knee issue but set up a first-half try and broke three tackles in a strong performance against his dad's Tigers side.

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Penrith star James Maloney has missed 24 more tackles than any other player in the NRL this year but his club coach believes he is still worthy of a NSW spot. © Mark Kolbe/Getty Images Penrith star James Maloney has missed 24 more tackles than any other player in the NRL this year but his club coach believes he is still worthy of a NSW spot. Griffin did admit the 31-year-old Maloney had been responsible for some tries the team had conceded over the opening 10 rounds, but was impressed with Thursday's win over Wests Tigers.

Maloney missed just the one tackle for the match as the Panthers kept the visitors tryless.

"He's obviously been involved in a few tries that we've let in so far this year but as you seen tonight, we worked really hard on our defence and he's worked hard on his defence," Griffin said.

"He's doing his job from my point of view. Obviously every player's got areas they need to improve, but on the whole he's done a terrific job for us.

"All halves go through that. At some stage they get a lot of traffic run at them, they're little men. Sometimes they don't make their first-up tackles. But I wouldn't swap him for anyone."

The win also marked the successful return of gun halfback Nathan Cleary, who set up a try after missing the past seven matches with a knee injury.

Also a candidate to feature in the Blues' halves for game one on June 6, Cleary said he pulled up well after the match and was heartened by his combination with Maloney.

"It's definitely a work in progress. Halves partnerships don't just work overnight," Cleary said.

"It was a bit of a shame with the speed bump with my injury but now we're back playing some footy, hopefully we can both stay injury free and really work on our combination."

Maloney, Cleary lead Panthers over Dragons .
Penrith have moved to the top of the NRL table with a resounding 28-2 win over St George Illawarra at Panthers Stadium.In front of the biggest Panthers Stadium crowd in eight years, the Panthers halves orchestrated a resounding 28-2 win on Saturday night to leapfrog the Dragons to top spot on percentages.

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