Penrith Panthers 10
Tries: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Jamal Idris
Goals: Jamie Soward
Field Goals: nil
Melbourne Storm 24
Tries: Marika Koroibete, Will Chambers, Ben Roberts, Billy Slater
Goals: Cameron Smith 4
Field Goals: nil
Melbourne Storm moved into fifth place on the National Rugby League ladder after a classy 24-10 victory over Penrith Panthers at SportingBet Stadium on Monday night.
They led 10-6 at the break after Will Chambers scored out wide following a cross field kick from Cooper Cronk that was tapped back by Waqa and onto the Storm centre. Ben Roberts extended the lead eighteen minutes into the second half after Matt Moylan was bundled into touch on a kick return. Three minutes later Billy Slater scored Melbourne’s fourth try for the evening as they went out to a match winning 24-6 lead. Jamal Idris scored Penrith’s consolation try just before full time as they posted only their second loss at SportingBet Stadium in 2014.
Both sides struggled to gain the upper hand in the first half with some elementary errors. One in particular was a forward pass to Mahe Fonua from Sisa Waqa under his posts in the early part of the game. A ninety-five metre intercept try from Marika Koroibete opened the Storm’s scoring. Penrith were deep in attack when Will Smith’s pass found the flying Fijian who made no mistake in taking the ball and scoring at the other end.
Penrith hit back six minutes before the break with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s spectacular leap through the air to ground the ball again showing the value of the corner post rule change adopted by the National Rugby League a few years back. Soward set up the try and added the sideline conversion to level scores at six apiece.
The home side were penalised close to half time which gave Melbourne one last attacking chance. As the siren sounded Chambers finished off an attacking play set up by Cronk and the Storm took a four point lead into the break. Discipline would be a factor in the Panthers loss as they conceded ten penalties during the game to the Storms eight.
To make matters worse for Penrith two players were placed on report. Adam Docker was on report following a tackle on a falling Tim Glasby. Jeremy Latimore was involved in the most contentious incident of the night as he was placed on report for a crusher tackle on Bryan Norrie. Norrie appeared to be backing into the defense in what appeared to be a normal tackle. The National Rugby League referee’s continue to have trouble in determining what is and isn’t a crusher tackle. For the record Norrie continued to play on after the incident.
As the game went on Melbourne looked good in attack and Billy Slater looks primed for finals footy as the Panthers gave him too much space to attack. The Storm’s defense was solid as they moved up on the Panthers quickly to shut down Jamie Soward and won the battle at the ruck. They look a potential threat if they can manage a top four finish, one that they could achieve if they can manage to win against the Roosters and Broncos in the final two weeks of the competition.
Penrith need to improve the way they play against the likes of Melbourne and Manly if they are to have any chance of moving deep into the finals series. At times the Panthers were frustrated by referee calls and this suited the Storm to a tee as the crowd were taken out of the game. Next week’s trip to Manly will give Panther fans a little more insight into how their team will travel at finals time. They finish with a home game to New Zealand Warriors in the final game of the preliminary rounds.