Panthers superstar Nathan Curry is facing a near-term layoff after his dramatic sending-off against the Eels on Friday.
Leading 12-4 with 18 minutes to play, Cleary dropped five-eighth Dylan Brown with a nasty knock.
Cleary wrapped one arm around Brown’s waist and the other around his leg as he lifted him above the horizontal.
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“Oh, my goodness,” said Fox League analyst Dan Ginnane.
“That’s Dylan Brown flipped like an omelette.
“It’s a terrible problem … Thank goodness Brown is safe.”
Cleary shook his head immediately after the tackle and CommBank Stadium erupted with boos as he headed towards referee Todd Smith.
“The hands are between the legs, they put her in the ground – you’re out,” Smith said, pointing to the sheds.
The screams of the Eels fans quickly turned to cheers as one of the greats in the game and Penrith’s most important player – was ordered off the field.
“Can you believe it? Nathan Creary marched out of Combank Stadium,” Guinane said.
“Those replays aren’t pretty.”
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Shane Flanagan pointed out that Cleary’s hands were a “no-no” between Brown’s legs.
Meanwhile, Panthers legend Greg Alexander admitted the sendoff was the right call.
“I think the refs’ hands are tied. It was the wrap of the spear, the block ended on its head.
“The referee said his hands between his legs, they are the indicators that the referees are looking for, so I think the referee had no choice but to send Nathan off.”
Cleary is awaiting arraignment on Saturday morning, but could face a four-week ban as a condition precedent.
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Manly’s Carl Lawton was suspended for four weeks in May after pleading guilty earlier to a charge of Class 3 dangerous throwing.
Lawton’s problem was against Rabbitohs boss Cameron Murray in Round 8.
The Eels immediately put the Panthers down by one man and ran in three tries before the break.