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Storm v Panthers: Smith hopeful; Edwards a chance

This Saturday evening encounter ranks as match of the round, despite the Rabbitohs meeting the Roosters on Friday night.

The Storm made it two from two with their 12-10 defeat of the Sharks last week, while the Panthers are also unbeaten after two games.

With no noisy Storm fans in attendance to spur on the home team, the Panthers will be looking to make the most of the opportunity in what will effectively be a neutral venue.

Melbourne are typically basing their game around tough defence, while the Panthers showed they can score points in last week's try-fest with the Dragons.

The Rundown

Team news

Storm: Goal-kicking centre Paul Momirovski has joined the squad after the swap deal with Harry Grant, which has sent the young hooker to the Wests Tigers. Kiwi hooker Brandon Smith is pushing for an early return from a facial fracture.

Panthers: Nathan Cleary said after Penrith's win over the Dragons that fullback Dylan Edwards was a chance to make an early return next week.

Key match-up

Cameron Smith v Api Koroisau. The sweat hadn't even dried after Melbourne's win over Cronulla and Smith was already talking up Koroisau's impact at his new club. The former Souths and Manly hooker will have to be focused for 80 minutes against the G.O.A.T if Penrith are going to remain unbeaten.

Brett Kimmorley says

This is the game of the round. Nathan Cleary is demanding results and Api Koriosau has been a sensational buy for Penrith with his creativity around dummy-half. Penrith will have the physicality to challenge Melbourne and this will be a good test to see if they can win the arm-wrestle on Melbourne’s home ground and be a true side for 2020. Melbourne got out of trouble last week because they always believe they can win and they don’t panic. They’re confident they’ll wear the opposition out eventually and Cameron Smith is so calm. This is the hardest game to pick and an upset wouldn’t surprise me, but I think Melbourne just get up. Storm by 4

Stat Attack

Penrith playmaker Nathan Cleary has racked up 24 points from the first two games of the season - if he continues at that clip, he will be a very strong chance of topping the scoring charts for 2020.

And another thing...

It was in round three last year at Bathurst that Melbourne and Penrith squared off in their only meeting of the season. The Panthers had a forgettable night, failing to score a try. They trailed 8-2 at half-time before the Storm piled on 24 unanswered points in the second half.