Melbourne Storm have consolidated their position inside the NRL’s top eight with a 24-10 win over the Panthers in Penrith on Monday night.
Following a tight first half, an assured performance after half-time which included an 88 per cent completion rate allowed Craig Bellamy’s side to fend off the fourth placed Panthers.
Despite the pre-game loss of in form prop Jesse Bromwich, Storm’s forward pack performed admirably, constantly making ground against Ivan Cleary’s Panthers. Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater were typically dangerous in attack with the victory putting Storm within two points of the top four.
Million Dollar Match: 5 Sept, AAMI Park. Be there for your chance “Kick to Cure” and win $1million. Buy tickets here.
Both sides gained attacking opportunities during a tight opening to the contest, with the Panthers shading the visitors for territory. Neither were able to find the clinical pass or cutting edge however as defence at either end held firm for the opening 15 minutes of play.
With Penrith forging forward and looking to have created an overlap, Storm winger Marika Koroibete stepped in to intercept and open the scoring with a length of the field effort, turning defence into attack.
Momentum swung off the back of the Koroibete try with Storm earning plenty of possession including repeat sets. Unable to make their weight of possession translate onto the scoreboard, Melbourne were made to pay as Penrith levelled the scores thanks to Dallin Watene Zelezniak six minutes before half-time.
Another twist in the opening stanza was left as Melbourne received a late penalty allowing for one last foray forward. Sisa Waqa’s quick thinking from a Cooper Cronk kick allowed Will Chambers to cross the line and give Melbourne a four point buffer heading into the break.
Cameron Smith’s penalty goal 12 minutes into the second half extended Melbourne’s advantage to six. Ben Roberts then helped Storm double their lead with a trademark left foot step sending him through the Penrith defence capitalising on his side’s strong start to the half.
Billy Slater’s 10th try of the 2014 campaign confirmed the result for Melbourne in the 62nd minute.
Melbourne Storm 24
Tries: Marika Koroibete 16m, Will Chambers 40m, Ben Roberts 57m, Billy Slater 62m
Goals: Cameron Smith 4
Penrith Panthers 10
Tries: Dallin Watene Zelezniak 34m, Jamal Idris 77m
Goals: Jamie Soward 1