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Russell Crowe Among NRL Fans To Call Out Controversial Nathan Cleary Conversion Kick

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Russell Crowe Among NRL Fans To Call Out Controversial Nathan Cleary Conversion Kick

NRL fans have erupted, taking aim at the match officials for seemingly letting a glaring incident go unpunished during the Penrith Panthers' preliminary final victory over the Melbourne Storm last weekend.

And if things weren't already damning enough, Hollywood megastar Russell Crowe has also gone wading in too.

Nathan Cleary. Credit: PA
Nathan Cleary. Credit: PA

Panthers star Brian To'o extended his side's lead in the second half, scoring a try try down the left wing.

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The lightning-quick winger skipped past the recovering Storm defence and grounded the ball just a metre from the sideline.

Halfback Nathan Cleary ended up missing the conversion attempt, which kept the score at 10-0 to the Panthers.

Penrith saw the game through to secure a historic 10-6 victory to earn their spot in the Grand Final.

But during the post-mortem of the game, eagle-eyed viewers noticed something fishy about Cleary's conversion kick - and it sparked immediate outrage, particularly among the Storm faithful.

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Instead of taking the conversion from the sideline where To'o had grounded the ball, Cleary appeared to place it approximately 10 metres from the sideline to take his shot at goal.

When you look at a side-by-side split of the two angles, they looked miles apart too - making the attempt far easier than it should have been.

The match officials somehow failed to notice the cheeky tactic and Cleary ultimately went ahead with the kick, although he ended up pulling it narrowly wide of the posts

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At the time of the incident, Fox League commentator Andrew Voss realised what was going on.

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"This is a little in," Vossy said in the commentary box.

"To'o put the ball down a metre in from touch. I thought Nathan might have crept in a little closer with the shot."

It was after the game, though, that the fingers really started getting pointed.

Rugby league journalist Phil Rothfield tweeted: "This is outrageous".

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While actor and South Sydney Rabbitohs co-owner Russell Crowe chimed in, adding: "Explain this... See where the try is scored? See where the kick is taken from?"

A bunch of other NRL fans also flocked to social media to have their say on the controversial moment.

Russell Crowe. Credit: PA
Russell Crowe. Credit: PA

Had the match have gone down to a two-point game which would've been won or lost by Cleary's conversion, then the incident could have been a huge talking point with a Grand Final appearance at stake.

Thankfully for the Panthers, and Cleary, they won by four points anyway.

The questionable moment did, however, spark a response from NRL head of football Graham Annesley who described the sequence of events as "simply unacceptable".

"I've asked for an explanation as to how this could have possibly happened, but regardless of the reason it is simply unacceptable," Annesley told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I can understand a split-second judgment error in general play, but this is a basic procedural matter that should never occur.

"Thankfully the kick missed so no advantage was gained, but we will further consider the implications of the error when we meet to review both games."

Featured Image Credit: Fox League

Topics: Rugby League, nrl, Australia

Max Sherry
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