It was a gut wrenching game at AAMI Park on Saturday night, leaving everyone on the edge of their seats. Both the Panthers and the Storm put their best foot forward and played incredible football, however it was the incredible defensive effort from the Storm that left the Panthers scrambling, and what won the game for Melbourne in the end.

Rock Solid Defence Proved Essential for Melbourne

The Melbourne Storm proved worthy of being Premiership favourites when they hosted the Penrith Panthers, and showed off their flawless defence; especially on their goal line. The visitors had an overwhelming amount of possession throughout the game, and were awarded with twelve penalties, many of which were just metres from the Melbourne try line; however the outstanding defensive effort of the home side left the Panthers with just one try under their belt scored by five eighth, Te Maire Martin in the twenty-sixth minute. Their scramble defence is like no other team in the competition, and it’s hard to go past them, and that was proven by the struggling Panthers, who had trouble executing. It is becoming even more apparent that the Storm do not concede easy points if any at all, which can be credited to the astounding leadership and effective communication that is shown by all players in the Melbourne side.

Cleary and Martin are a Masterclass Pairing

Without discrediting the rest of the spine, the combination of Nathan Cleary and Te Maire Martin is undoubtedly an imperative aspect of the Panthers side. The pair have played together for five rounds as a result of a season-ending injury for Martin against Cronulla last season, and Cleary only making his first grade NRL debut in June of last year, however have looked created a communicative play that puts on the facade that they have played together for years. During the match against the Storm, they played alongside each other harmoniously, and together were the reason for the six points the Panthers scored at AAMI Park. The Panthers were playing out a set in Melbourne’s half when Cleary received the ball and threw it behind to Martin who ploughed through the Storm defence on the left hand side of the uprights. The halves partnership in a side is of high importance, and the Panthers’ halves showed confidence and composure; and are a great pairing that will dominate and contribute greatly to the success of the Panthers this season and beyond.

Through, Not Around

It was noted throughout the game by Fox League commentator Michael Ennis that in order for the Panthers to execute their plays and score points, they need to go through the defence, and not around. Sure, they gain more metres by going around the defence, but it gives more time for the opposition, in this case Melbourne, to scramble and defend, stopping them from conceding points. Throughout the game, when the Panthers were finishing sets and preparing to score, they seemed to go around the defence that the Storm was throwing at them, which prevented them from scoring any points. The ball was going from left to right, moving up a little more each tackle, however Penrith didn’t seem to be completely capable of or willing to run straight through the rock solid defence to get over the line and pin more points on the board, creating more pressure for the Melbourne side. It’s important for the Penrith Panthers to learn to go through the defence, not around it, and in doing so they will be able to score more points and win more games.

Spines Showed Importance

The match between the Melbourne Storm and the Penrith Panthers was nothing short of entertaining, and was undoubtedly a huge credit to the spines of both sides. The leadership and communication that was shown between the fullbacks, five-eights, halfbacks and hookers from the two teams proved their importance, and was overall crucial to the way in which the game was carried out. The leadership shown by captains Matt Moylan, the Penrith fullback and Cameron Smith, the Storm hooker was imperative, and they led the communication that was displayed throughout the entire match. All of the key match-ups of the game were involved in the spine, and the competitiveness of each individual match up and the overall match ups of the spines increased the intensity and entertainment of the game. A credit to all members of the spine for each side, showing importance to the strength and hold of the team when it comes to composure, confidence and execution of both attack and defence.

SCOREBOARD

Penrith Panthers

Tries: Te Maire Martin

Goals: Nathan Cleary

Melbourne Storm

Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu (2), Cooper Cronk, Josh Addo-Carr, Will Chambers

Goals: Cameron Smith (4)