The Panthers pulled off a stunning 21-14 victory over Melbourne Storm at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday.
The Panthers showed remarkable composure against one of the premiership benchmarks, as they snatched the win in the final twenty minutes while the Storm were coming home strongly.
Viliame Kikau came from the bench to score the match-winning try, storming onto a perfectly-placed kick by Nathan Cleary.
Cleary and Kikau combine for highlight reel four-pointer
Cleary then slotted a late field goal, securing a thrilling victory for the Panthers
Meanwhile, Dylan Edwards assisted a try in a successful return from injury.
Just as they did last week against Parramatta, the Panthers showed great goal-line defence against Melbourne.
After withstanding an early attacking raid by Melbourne, the Panthers were rewarded with the opening try.
Api Koroisau set up a short-side attack, and Jarome Luai sent a cut-out pass to Josh Mansour. The winger bobbled, regathered, and then found Stephen Crichton on his inside to dot down.
Nathan Cleary added the conversion to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead after 17 minutes.
The Panthers were well in control, as some terrific kicks by Cleary and Luai had the Storm stuck in their own end.
The Storm eventually found an escape route and took full advantage. Felise Kaufusi scored in the 30th minute from a Cameron Munster face ball, and Cameron Smith converted to make it 6-6.
It was a tense first half, and the Panthers went into the break with a well-deserved lead as Nathan Cleary kicked a penalty goal after being taken out by Cameron Smith.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 8 – STORM 6
The Storm went on the attack early in the second half, but Zane Tetevano’s bone-rattling shot on Dale Finucane squandered an early chance.
The Panthers then defended another two consecutive sets on their own line, before extending their lead with their first attack of the second half.
Brian To’o applied the finishing touch to a well-worked backline play, which included excellent passes by Isaah Yeo, Nathan Cleary and then Dylan Edwards. Cleary knocked over the conversion, pushing the Panthers out to a 14-6 lead after 50 minutes.
The Storm hit back five minutes later though, as some individual brilliance by Cameron Munster led to Brenko Lee scoring. Smith converted to make it a two-point difference.
Soon after, Penrith coughed up the ball deep in their own half. A penalty goal by Cameron Smith in the 60th minute then saw the Storm draw level.
It was an ominous situation with momentum on Melbourne’s side, before coach Ivan Cleary injected Viliame Kikau from the bench.
The Panthers marched upfield, where Kikau flew onto a cross-field bomb by Nathan Cleary to push Penrith back in front.
Cleary then added the conversion, and the Panthers led 20-14 with 15 minutes to play.
The Storm still had a spring in their step, but the Panthers kept their cool in defence to maintain their lead.
Cool Cleary slots field goal
Nathan Cleary then iced the cake in the 76th minute, landing a field goal to secure a statement victory for the Panthers.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 21 – STORM 14