Just four days removed from State of Origin, Cleary elected to rest all of his Origin stars, with the Panthers six points clear at the top of the table heading into the game.
With the Panthers unlikely to be challenged for the minor premiership, resting players was always a likely occurrence, and reported as if it was going to happen as far back as Origin 1.
It didn't set well with interim Tigers' coach Brett Kimmorley though, labelling the move as the Panthers not showing the Tigers any respect.
"They were the only club who rested their players before the team sheet came out," Kimmorley said in his post game press conference.
"They're a very good organisation that are entitled to rest their players and do whatever they want (but) we thought it wasn't respectful.
"My job as a coach is to be a storyteller. I used that (to motivate the players) during the week ... it got us up, which helped us."
Cleary shot straight back in his own press conference however, suggesting it wouldn't have mattered who the club were playing, they were going to rest the Origin stars.
"The decision was based on our team, not anyone else's," the Penrith coach said when told of Kimmorley's comments.
"It wouldn't have mattered who we were playing after the third Origin. That was the best time to rest guys. If you rest them during the Origin, physically they might get a rest but mentally they don't."