Cleary stakes Origin claim as Penrith end losing streak
Nathan Cleary boosted his State of Origin hopes and helped Penrith Panthers end a six-match losing streak as they beat Parramatta Eels 16-10 in the NRL on Thursday.
New South Wales will announce their team on Sunday, when Cleary will learn whether he has done enough to keep hold of the number seven jersey for the Blues.
He did his cause no harm at Bankwest Stadium, scoring the winning try as the Panthers moved off the bottom and prevented the Eels from jumping into the top eight.
Maika Sivo's second-minute try, the winger dotting down for his sixth in five matches from Will Smith's grubber into the left-hand corner, gave Parramatta a superb start.
But they did not score another try in the subsequent 78 minutes of play, although the boot of Mitchell Moses ensured the Eels had a 10-8 lead at the break.
Tim Grant's try and a penalty from Cleary pulled the Panthers within striking distance and the latter duly levelled matters with a two-pointer inside eight minutes of the restart.
And it was Cleary who reacted quickest when Jarome Luai's grubber was deflected into the in-goal area, pouncing for a try that he converted to end Penrith's dreadful run and bolster his prospects of pulling the strings for the Blues come June 5.