Storm too strong for Panthers
Storm have made it five straight wins to start season 2017 with a powerful 28-6 victory over Penrith on Saturday night.
The game was in the balance for much of the night before a scintillating 80-metre try from Josh Addo-Carr sent the 15,233-strong AAMI Park crowd into a purple frenzy.
The result also saw Storm captain Cameron Smith notch win No.238 of his career, seeing him surpass Darren Lockyer for the most wins by any player in NRL history.
The men in purple knew they needed to improve on some sluggish starts in recent weeks and they certainly delivered.
On the back of 75% of possession after seven minutes, Storm had the first try of the game as Suliasi Vunivalu, on his return from injury, crossed the line thanks to a brilliant Will Chambers flick pass down the touchline.
Provider for the first, Chambers would score the second 20 minutes into the game when a Cooper Cronk cutout pass saw the Panthers left edge in two minds and allowed the Storm centre to waltz through.
Cameron Smith converted the kick as Melbourne pulled out to a 10-0 lead.
Penrith slowly started to get some ball though and hit the scoreboard in the 25th minute through a Te Maire Martin try.
Momentum stayed with the visitors for the remainder of the half but it would swing back the way of Melbourne just 65 seconds into the second half.
Dale Finucane bulldozed through the Panthers’ line, offloaded to Cronk who side-stepped Matt Moylan to run on and score under the posts.
Storm were then forced to defend for 15 straight minutes but after holding firm in defence they were rewarded up the other end when Smith converted a penalty for a 12-point lead.
Panthers thought they had struck back shortly after with a try up the other end through Dean Whare but video review showed a strip from James Tamou on Vunivalu.
With the game still in the balance, enter Josh Addo-Carr.
Off a scrum play on Storm’s own 20 metre line, the ball came out to Addo-Carr who left two Panthers defenders in his wake to burst down the left touchline and score the game-sealing try.
That effort sent the purple faithful jumping out of their seats and ensured they would head home with unbeaten smiles on their faces.
Melbourne Storm 28
Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu, Will Chambers, Cooper Cronk, Josh Addo-Carr, Suliasi Vunivalu
Goals: Cameron Smith 3
Penrith Panthers 6
Tries: Te Maire Martin
Goals: Nathan Cleary