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Storm stun Panthers to stretch unbeaten Round 1 run to 22 years

The Melbourne Storm produced a magnificent defensive display to down premiers Penrith 8-0 and stretch their unbeaten opening round record to a staggering 22 years.

In front of a boisterous home crowd at AAMI Park, Craig Bellamy's men dug deep to launch their season in style without stars Cameron Munster and Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

The Storm opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Nick Meaney slotted a penalty goal that would remarkably end up being the only points of the half.

The Panthers came close in the 31st minute when a Nathan Cleary grubber was lost in-goal by Storm bench man Alec MacDonald but the ball rolled dead before the premiers could ground it.

On the stroke of half-time the Storm launched a right side raid and Meaney slid over in the corner but his body was touching the sideline as he grounded the ball in a desperate cover tackle by Taylan May and Dylan Edwards.

Reimis Smith Try

A high shot by Storm winger Will Warbrick on Sunia Turuva handed the Panthers a shot at late points but Cleary's 41-metre two-point field goal shot sailed wide.

Four minutes into the second half the Storm launched an aerial raid through Jonah Pezet and Eli Katoa claimed a try but replays showed Ryan Papenhuyzen had knocked on in the contest for the ball.

It was then Penrith's turn to come close with May slicing down the left wing and kicking back inside for Soni Luke to score but the video referee ruled that Jahrome Hughes had been obstructed in the lead-up.

No try but May has wheels

The game finally had its first try in the 50th minute when Pezet launched another pinpoint kick and Xavier Coates tapped the ball back for Reimis Smith to score. Meaney piloted the sideline conversion and the Storm led 8-0.

With 22 minutes to play the Storm threatened to go further ahead when Tui Kamikamica forced his way over the line but the prop lost control of the ball as he tried to plant it down.

The Storm were under extreme pressure in the 64th minute when Luke grubbered into the in-goal but Smith, Coates and Papenhuyzen converged to get the ball over the dead ball line.

Luke continued to probe and earned his team another repeat set but a poor kick by Jarome Luai allowed the Storm to defuse the situation and come away.

The premiers continued to throw everything at the Storm but huge defensive efforts by Josh King and Coates ensured the club's remarkable Round 1 record would remain intact.

Match Snapshot

  • The two sides made a total of 12 errors between them in the first half as they struggled for cohesion.
  • The Panthers were not held scoreless in the first half in any game last season.
  • Storm winger Will Warbrick was placed on report in the 40th minute for a high tackle on Sunia Turuva.
  • Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen returned from injury in style with 20 runs for 146 run metres.
  • Storm skipper Harry Grant came up with 44 tackles while Eli Katoa made 37 and Trent Loiero 36.
  • Panthers prop Moses Leota played his 150th NRL game.

Taylan May breaks through

  • Nick Meaney's move to centre proved a success for Melbourne as he ran for 163 metres and had two tackle breaks.
  • The last time the Panthers were held scoreless was against Melbourne in Round 22, 2022 when they lost 16-0 at BlueBet Stadium.
  • The Storm have not lost a Round 1 game since 2001 when they were beaten 14-10 by the Bulldogs.
  • Sunia Turuva ran for 207 metres for the Panthers while fullback Dylan Edwards racked up 175 metres.

They all missed it!

Play of the GameĀ 

Defence came to the fore in a tense heavyweight stoush at AAMI Park and the desperation of Panthers duo Taylan May and Dylan Edwards to deny Nick Meaney a try in the 40th minute was the stuff that the last three premierships have been built on.

May and Edwards deny Meaney

What They Said

"I don't think we played that well to be quite honest but we were really gutsy. There were a lot of tackles to be made in our 20-metre area and we looked like we were out on our feet a few times but we found a way to keep turning up. We must have been in our 20-metre zone there for about eight or 10 minutes with about 15 minutes to go. We had some blokes out on their feet but we just kept finding a way. The guys backing each other and the effort was tremendous. We defended unbelievably." - Storm coach Craig Bellamy

Storm: Round 1

"We couldn't maintain any sort of pressure. At 8-0 down we took a while to get some opportunities and at the end we just panicked... well, I don't know if we panicked, but we were all over the shop. It wasn't much of a game. I thought we defended well in our end and not so much in theirs. The last game we played it was the other way round so we just can't quite put it together. That's part of building your season and trying to get some consistency through the 80 minutes." - Panthers coach Ivan Cleary

Panthers: Round 1

What's Next

The Storm will be hoping to have Cameron Munster back on board when they host the Warriors on Saturday night. The Panthers are also at home in Round 2, welcoming old rivals Parramatta to BlueBet Stadium on Friday night.

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.