Penrith coach Ivan Cleary backs Dubbo's Matt Burton to bounce back

MISSED OUT: Matt Burton had was left disappointed after Penrith missed out on a win on Sunday. Photo: NRL PHOTOS
MISSED OUT: Matt Burton had was left disappointed after Penrith missed out on a win on Sunday. Photo: NRL PHOTOS

Matt Burton was left shattered on Sunday night after missing multiple field goal attempts in Penrith's draw with Newcastle but Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has backed the young playmaker to bounce back.

After 80 minutes and 10 minutes of golden point the enthralling contest finished at 14-all, but both sides had huge chances to win.

Deputising for the suspended Nathan Cleary and playing just his second NRL match, Burton missed five field goal attempts.

Two of those were in front in the final minutes of regular time while one golden point attempt cannoned off the upright.

"I thought he was really brave how he just kept standing up," coach Cleary said post-game.

"I've seen plenty of kids either with field goals or goal kicks, when they're not going so well for you, and then hand it over to someone else.

"I figured the more he took, the closer he was going to get, it's how it turned out. He hit the post."


It had been a big couple of weeks for Burton as he came out of the lockdown well aware he'd be lining up in the NRL again after NSW half Cleary was suspended after he was found to have lied in relation to breaking isolation rules.

Burton had been a solid performer for much of Sunday's contest, with his kicking game keeping Penrith on the front foot for a lot of the match.

But the Knights, who lost Mitchell Pearce and Dubbo-born Connor Watson to injury inside the first 10 minutes, fought their way back and levelled things up late on.

The Panthers then had the better chances late on, but were forced to settle for a share of the points, with Burton having a fifth and final chance in the final minute of golden point only to see it sail wide.

"He's pretty disappointed," Cleary said of Burton.

"(That's) just the way it goes, second game of first grade. Had a lot to absorb over the last couple of weeks coming in to take Nat's role. He'll be better for it."

Cleary also spoke about his decision to drop Wellington junior Brent Naden on the day of the game.

Naden, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise at Penrith in the past year, was left out in favour of the up-and-coming Stephen Crichton.

"He's certainly a player of the future," Cleary said of Crichton.

"And I had him on the bench for the first couple of weeks but I really wanted to get him into the starting line-up and give him some games there.

"Plus he's our first-choice goalkicker."

The Panthers remain unbeaten and in a share of third spot with the Knights, with both sides one point behind the unbeaten Parramatta and Canberra.

Penrith takes on the Warriors next round, with Burton again likely to start with Cleary serving the second of his two-game ban.

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