Storm offensive blitz stifles Panthers
An inspired Melbourne Storm lifted for club captain Cameron Smith, who celebrated his 300 game milestone in style with a 52-10 win over the Penrith Panthers at AAMI Park.
Fittingly, it was Storm's captain and milestone celebrant who set up the games opening try, with Smith placing a kick that fell perfectly for Cooper Cronk after only five minutes.
Minutes later, Cronk went from scoring the first try of the game to providing the assist for the second, setting up Tohu Harris to cross in the corner.
Kevin Proctor added a third for the hosts with 15 minutes on the clock, to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd at AAMI Park, who roared with approval after the video referee confirmed the try.
A spectacle diving effort from Marika Koroibete, who got on the end of a Blake Green grubber, gave the fast finishing Storm their fourth unanswered try for the evening. Cooper Cronk stamped his influence on the game with his second try, which saw the Storm veteran crash through the Panthers defence and across the line with only minutes to play in the first half.
A rampant Storm went into the main break with a well deserved 26-0 lead.
Storm's dominance continued in the second half with Marika Koroibete scoring his second try on the back of a magnificent 80 metre dash, which saw the Fijian international break a tackle before charging across the white chalk.
Blake Green was the beneficiary of an expertly timed offload from Christian Welch, which allowed the five-eighth to embark on a 40 minute sprint to score Storm's seventh try of the night.
The Panthers continued to press in their attack and were rewarded for their persistence with back-to-back tries courtesy of a theatrical Waqa Blake effort and Tyrone Peachey, who broke a tackle from Marika Koroibete to score.
Stirring solo efforts from both Mahe Fonua and Kevin Proctor put any Panthers momentum to bed, ensuring that the hosts had a comfortable 38 point buffer in the closing stages of the match.
Richie Kennar scored his first NRL try and the tenth major of the game on the stroke of full-time .
Cameron Smith, who converted seven of his ten attempts on goal, was applauded off the field by the 11,956 spectators in attendance.
Melbourne Storm 52
Tries: Cooper Cronk 2, Kevin Proctor 2, Marika Koroibete 2, Tohu Harris, Blake Green, Mahe Fonua, Richie Kennar
Goals: Cameron Smith 7
Penrith Panthers 10
Tries: Waqa Blake, Tyrone Peachey
Goals: Jamie Soward
1. Cameron Munster, 2. Marika Koroibete, 3. William Chambers, 15. Kenny Bromwich, 5. Richie Kennar, 6. Blake Green, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10. Tim Glasby, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Tohu Harris, 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe, 13. Dale Finucane, 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 18. Mahe Fonua, 21. Christian Welch
18. Will Smith, 2. Waqa Blake, 3. Dean Whare, 4. Isaah Yeo, 21. Robert Jennings, 6. Jamie Soward, 7. Peter Wallace (c), 8. Nigel Plum, 19. Jamie Segeyaro, 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 14. Lewis Brown, 12. Bryce Cartwright, 13. Elijah Taylor, 9. Api Koroisau, 15. Jeremy Latimore, 16. Sam McKendry, 17. Tyrone Peachey