Panthers won’t blame May absence for shock loss

Jasper Bruce |

Penrith were jolted out of a share of top spot in a sloppy loss to the Warriors.
Penrith were jolted out of a share of top spot in a sloppy loss to the Warriors.

Penrith have refused to blame Taylan May’s arrest for their shock loss to the Warriors at Magic Round.

It comes as captain Isaah Yeo admonishes himself for his “stupidity” in committing a professional foul at a critical juncture of Sunday’s 22-20 defeat.

Panthers centre May was arrested at a Sydney residence at 5am on Saturday, the day before the Warriors scored one of the biggest upsets of the year on the reigning premiers.

NSW Police are expected to allege the 22-year-old punched a woman known to him in the face and leg on April 8 when he faces Penrith Local Court later this month.

May has since been suspended from his duties by the Panthers, but is not yet officially subject to the NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy.

The incident forced the Panthers to parachute recruit Paul Alamoti into the starting side on Sunday, when the side turned in its clunkiest performance of the year.

Warriors players celebrate a try as dejected Panthers look on.
Penrith looked out of sorts in their narrow upset loss to the Warriors after a disrupted week. (Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS)

Penrith repeatedly put themselves under pressure with errors and ill discipline, with key men Dylan Edwards and James Fisher-Harris off their game as their team tried to fight back.

But Ivan Cleary, laconic even by his standards, did not believe May’s arrest had distracted his usually clinical side when quizzed post-match.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said.

“We just got on with life. We’re here to play footy and that’s what we did. We just didn’t play well enough today.”

Ahead of the game, five-eighth Jarome Luai said the Panthers would remain “professional” in the face of adversity and had a similar attitude afterwards.

“We don’t use anything as an excuse,” he said.

“We turned every page in our preparation and that’s all it came down to. “

Yeo lashed himself for barging into Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad as the stand-in Warriors five-eighth attempted to take a quick tap from a penalty just after half-time.

Referee Grant Atkins sent Yeo to the sin bin, where he watched as the Warriors ran in two tries to chase down the Panthers’ 10-4 lead.

“(It was) just stupidity,” Yeo said.

“Just a bad judgement call early in that second half when you already know we’re not at our best.

“It made the day hard for ourselves. That was poor leadership.”