Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has admitted the club's sex tape scandal rocked the side to its core and contributed to their woeful start to the NRL season.
Cleary made the frank confession after his side broke a six-game losing streak with a 16-10 win over Parramatta in which his son Nathan was the star at Bankwest Stadium on Thursday.
While the game was arguably the worst of the season, Cleary seemingly did enough to retain his NSW Origin jumper after coming up with two decisive plays to win the game.
Cleary senior looked like a man who had had the weight of the world lifted from his shoulders when he fronted his post-game press conference and opened up on the club's struggles over the opening 11 rounds.
He admitted the club lost its way when Tyrone May was arrested and charged with two counts of recording an intimate image without consent and two counts of disseminating an image without consent.
"The fact is we've got a very young team. And a lot of the external pressures, particularly at the start of the year when we had the video scandal, that was an enormous toll on our team," Cleary said.
"I didn't know how much, but our young guys, it rattled them because we went off a cliff at the start of the year."
Heading into the match it was reported that NSW coach Brad Fittler was leaning towards retaining Nathan despite the Panthers' struggles.
And the 21-year-old stood up when it counted, turning the tide in the second-half.
The Eels led 8-0 at one stage and 10-8 at halftime and Cleary gave his side field position when he stuck a foot out at an Eels kick and fell on the ball.
From the next set, Jarome Luai rolled the ball in-goal and Cleary showed desperation to dive on it to give his side what proved to be a winning lead.
"It's been like six months," Ivan said of the scrutiny on his son.
"From the time last year when we were talking about contracts, he was connected to pretty much everything pretty much connected with me.
"He has been under a lot of scrutiny, a lot of pressure. "
The 16,228-strong crowd were served up a low-quality spectacle marred by 28 errors and 16 penalties.
And while both sides were woeful in the second-half, Parramatta were just that much worse, completing just 11 of 20 sets to slump to their third straight loss.
"It's the attitude to grind," Eels coach Brad Arthur said.
"We know we can play some football but we want to do that all the time. You've got to earn the right to win games.
"Were not willing to stick at it. In the first half we did enough to earn the right, but the way we started the second half, we wanted to get it over and done with."
Penrith five-eighth Luai will come under scrutiny from the match review committee after clotheslining Mitchell Moses.
Parramatta star Blake Ferguson was put on report for a trip on Waqa Blake, but is likely to escape with a fine.
Australian Associated Press