NRL 2020: Penrith Panthers edge West Tigers in spiteful clash marred by Joey Leilua cheap shot

Several spiteful incidents have marred an otherwise enthralling NRL clash between Penrith Panthers and Wests Tigers.

The Panthers sealed their sixth win of the 2020 season, thanks to a late surge capped off by a Nathan Cleary field goal.

The 19-12 victory ended the Tigers' three-game unbeaten run in a match that reached boiling point with 20 minutes to go.

Impressive Tigers forward Luciano Leilua was felled with a high shot from Panthers hooker Api Koroisau. 

While the resulting penalty goal evened the scores, Tigers centre and brother Joey showed clear concern and anger after the incident.

When Koroisau went to apologise to Luciano, Joey pushed him away.

Fox commentator Braith Anasta was unimpressed by Joey's lack of discipline. 

"There’s no need for that,” Anasta said. "I understand it’s your brother, BJ, but come on mate."

Players from both sides get heated
Players from both sides get heated Photo credit: Getty

A clearly angered Joey Leilua was involved in a couple of dodgy moments over the final quarter of the match, before committing an act of foul play in the closing moments that was lucky to draw only a sin bin. 

Leilua hit Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards with a high shot off the ball in an ugly moment.

"Jeez, he comes up with some dumb plays, BJ," Anasta remarked. "That is just so unnecessary.

"He needs to settle down, he has to go for that. He does some stupid things and he doesn’t need to.

"It’s been his Achilles heel his whole career... he just can’t control his temperament.

Lead commentator Andrew Voss added: "That’s just crap."

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was then caught on camera, pointing to the scoreboard and blowing kisses to a fan.

Despite the funny moment, Cleary made it clear he was getting some serious stick from the crowd.

"I’m not used to the fans, I don’t think,” he said afterwards. "It’s been a while since they’ve been here.

"It was just an incident I probably wish I didn’t do anything, but I could have done worse, so it’s all good. There are no dramas.”

Pressed further, the former Tigers head coach said his actions were just part of the emotion of a tight and hard-fought game.

"I didn’t like what he said to me," he laughed. "As I said I’m not used to fans probably.

"I was probably a bit emotional, but I’m glad I didn’t do what I felt like doing."

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