The Penrith Panthers NYC side have extended their winning streak to eight matches with a comprehensive performance to defeat Melbourne Storm 36-16 at Pepper Stadium on Saturday night.
Melbourne opened the scoring in the 13th minute, taking advantage of dominant numbers on the left wing for Chanel Seigafo to run 30 metres to score in the corner. The try went unconverted.
The Panthers were quick to respond as Soni Luke utilised his speed and a big fend to bamboozle Storm defence in an impressive solo effort. The try and subsequent conversion pushed the home side ahead at 6-4 in the 19th minute.
Three minutes later Storm captain Junior Kirisome led by example as he evaded the Panthers defence on the right wing to score in the corner. The conversion was waved away but the Storm were again in the lead at 8-6.
Melbourne were not able to enjoy their lead for long as strong numbers on the right hand side saw Brent Naden slip the ball to centre Braidon Burns, who defied gravity to spin and plant the ball. The home side was back to a 10-8 lead.
The Panthers quickly followed up to extend their advantage with a beautiful grubber from Tyrone May dribbled through a gap in the Storm’s defence to be planted by Naden. The successful conversion made the score 16-8 to the Panthers in the 34th minute.
The final five minutes of the half saw the Panthers adding points to the board again with Sam Elwin backing himself to evade two Melbourne defenders to score next to the left hand upright. The easy conversion pushed the score to 22-8 to end the first half.
HALF-TIME: 22-8 Penrith
Melbourne started the second half with renewed determination and big Charlie Galo shrugged off two Panthers defenders to score. The attempted conversion was unsuccessful and the Panthers’ lead was cut to 10 points.
However Penrith hit right back as they capitalised on another error from the Storm. The Panthers’ fifth-tackle kick rebounded out of the defender’s arms for Tyrone May to snatch and find space to score in the 55th minute. The successful conversion from in front pushed the home side’s lead to 28-12.
Penrith went in again only seconds later on the favoured right hand side of the park. Naden shot a spiralling pass to Fuimanu Enese who turned on the afterburners to cross the white line uncontested in the 58th minute. The difficult conversion from the sideline extended the Panthers’ lead to 32-12.
The Panthers notched up their third try for the half with Christian Crichton collecting Elwin’s cut-out pass and slipping out of a defender’s arms to score. The kick from in front hit the right hand upright and left the score 36-12 to the Panthers in the 68th minute.
Despite the Panthers’ lead, the Storm were not to be deterred and finally struck again with Latreu Robinson battling to ground the ball in the right hand corner in the 74th minute. The kick failed to find its target, leaving the final score 36-16 in Penrith’s favour.